Kennedy Vineyard — the Darke County winery that is poised to open its new Big Rack craft brewery this weekend — has now applied for a distillery license, its founder confirmed this morning, June 21.
“I’m pretty sure that we’ll be the only winery in the state with all three” operations, making wine, beer and spirits, owner John Kennedy said. Ohio Department of Agriculture officials said today they were aware of several wineries that have either a brewery or a distillery, but could recall none that have all three.
Kennedy said he intends to produce small-batch, high-powered moonshine, in varying strengths of 100 to 160 proof, and in multiple flavors, from unflavored to apple pie to blackberry to cherry.
“And all of the fruit will be grown in Darke County,” Kennedy said.
The winery owner said he wants to make “a quality product that is true to the name ‘moonshine.’
“There’s nobody else doing it,” Kennedy said. “You can’t find good-quality, high-proof moonshine out there.”
The permit process is just beginning, so there is no projected timetable yet for the distillery operation, he said.
Kennedy Vineyard is located at 3911 State Route 722 in New Madison in southern Darke County. It has operated strictly as a winery since it was founded in 2009 — until this Saturday, June 24, when Big Rack Brewery opens.
There will be live music, beer tastings and beers sold by the pint — but not yet by the growler. “We don’t have the volume yet,” Kennedy said
“We wanted to give or customers a new experience,” winery and brewery co-founder John Kennedy told this news outlet earlier this month. “We kept hearing customers — usually husbands, but sometimes wives, too — say, ‘I don’t drink wine. I’m a beer drinker.’”
FigLeaf Brewing Co. in Middletown also is seeking a license to make and serve its own wines alongside its beers. Other wineries such as Valley Vineyards in Warren County and Debonne winery in northeast Ohio established craft breweries years ago to accommodate customers’ preferences.
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