Brianza Gardens and Winery is a little slice of heaven, with its picturesque setting of splendid vineyards and colorful gardens on a rich piece of land; it’s like a bit of Tuscany in Kentucky. Of course, as wine lovers, the real heaven comes from tasting their amazing and award-winning wines.
- Wine Tasting
- Winery & Vineyard Tours
- Locally Made Sausage, Cheese and Pretzels or BYOF Bring Your Own Food
- Live Music Saturdays & Sundays
- Food Trucks on Saturday
- Cottage and Bungalow Accommodations
- Winery and Garden Weddings, Rehearsals and Receptions
- Wine Club
- Not Pet Friendly (but two beautiful Brittany Pups (Whiskey & Bourbon) roam the property)
Tony’s Journey to Brianza Winery
After getting a degree in political science, Tony Parnigoni opened his first business at the age of 25: Marketplace Promotions. It was the first business in the country to contract samples to grocery stores like Kroger and Winn Dixie. Tony went on to own and sell several successful businesses, as well as work for an array of different companies such as Proctor and Gamble and Aramark, where he met his beautiful wife Deb.
Briana Gardnes & Winery-The Beginning
Tony’s successful career led him to retire early so he could focus on building, literally from the ground up, this new business he is so passionate about. Tony purchased the farmland in Crittenden, Kentucky back in 2010, when the only thing standing on the property was an old farmhouse. Brianza, fittingly named after the northern province in Italy where Tony’s family originated from, officially opened for business in 2015, but not without Tony’s labor of love.
Tony knew that, in order to be a successful winemaker, he would need to expand his knowledge beyond that of a wine connoisseur, so he thrust himself into research, soaking up every bit of knowledge he could find, including chemistry – which, Tony told us, is not his forte. He also worked closely with both the Ohio State University and the University of Kentucky, which have test plots and teams that help people like Tony, advising them on what grapes to grow, as well as how to plant, cultivate, and harvest them. Tony started growing his own grapes in 2012. He also sought guidance from Jim Wight, owner of Wight-Meyer Vineyards in Shepherdsville, KY, who was happy to share his knowledge on equipment and bottling.
A Fund Day at the Winery
Tony runs the majority of the business on his own, landscaping, harvesting, winemaking, working events, bookkeeping: he wears all the hats. Although his wife Deb has a busy career of her own traveling the country for Aramark, she helps out with major decisions, purchasing items for the shop, working events, and even parking cars on occasion. When asked if he could use one word to describe his Brianza success, Tony said, “Fun! 70% of what I do I absolutely love. When you are blending the wine and have it ready to bottle, that’s a fun day!”
Tony enjoyed talking to us about growing, harvesting, and winemaking. “The vines have to be constantly maintained or they will not produce grapes,” he said. He grows three whites on the property, Vignole, Aromelia, Seyval Blanc, and two reds, Noiret and Marquett, which make up about 15% of their wine and produce about 2,500 cases. He also buys one white, Vidal Blanc-White, and two reds, Chambourcin and Cyntiania, from Kentucky growers, as well as juice from the New York area that comes in refrigerated trucks.
Tony uses excess grapes and juice to create flavorful blends such as Brianza’s Tootsie Roll (it tastes just like a tootsie roll), Creamsicle, or Sweet Bottom Strawberry. Some flavors are not big sellers and are one and dones, like Sweet Bottom Strawberry, but some, like Sweet Bottom Red, will always be on the list.
The Recipe Book
Tony keeps a book of all his recipes, and Brianza has over 16 wines on their menu. Their bestseller depends on the week, but their estate-grown Noiret and Vignoles are always in the top five. Their Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sweet Bottom Red, and Vidal Blanc round out the perennial top sellers. Brianza also offers their guests a wine club membership, where members receive VIP treatment along with two shipments of premium estate-produced wines each year. Outside of the winery, Brianza wines can only be purchased at the Vom Fass Specialty Store in the Crestview Hills, KY Mall.
Some of our favorites wines include Meritage, which is a smooth red blend with tannins and a subtle taste of black currants and plum flavors, and it pairs well with a nice steak dinner. Their Sweet Bottom Red, which is made from Concord grapes and a bit of blackberry, can be a bit of an addictive treat, and we find it’s great to enjoy all by itself. Brianza’s Chardonnay is dry but very smooth and pairs well with a cheese plate, seafood, or poultry dinner. Their Sweet Bottom Tropical, which is a crisp semi sweet wine with pineapple, strawberry, and a hint of grapefruit, is a bit tart, which we absolutely love, and we find that it is a perfect summertime wine. Brianza has the best wines!
The Winery Gardens and Weddings
Along with teaching himself how to grow grapes and make wine, Tony has designed a beautiful destination for his guests to enjoy. The property includes a small pond, beautiful gardens, two cottages, a vibrant red barn, a rustic covered bridge, outside patio area, an indoor/outdoor entertainment area, a gift shop, and a wine tasting room. The gardens also have a wedding arbor draped in gorgeous wisteria surrounded by luscious green fields and vineyards, and the landscaping is impeccable. Tony and Deb enjoyed their dream wedding destination in Italy in 2015 and wanted to bring that same feel back to Brianza Winery. Recently married bride and groom, Kevin and Aubrey Schweitzer told us, “They made us feel like family. They wanted us to have their wedding at Brianza and wanted us to have an exceptional experience.”
Speaking of weddings, Tony said his most famous guest was Hunger Games star and Kentucky native, Josh Hutcherson, who was there for his father’s wedding. (Wonder if he baked them any bread!)
Brianza Winery also offers winery and vineyard tours where you can go behind the scenes to learn the winemaking process from one of the most award-winning winemakers in the Midwest. They periodically offer wine education and private barrel tasting events as well, so keep an eye out for those.
We spent a wonderful weekend at Brianza Winery not too long ago with our favorite travel companions, Guy and Jill Pauley (Becky’s brother and sister-in-law). We enjoyed an overnight stay in one of their adorable cottages, tried many different wines, and had lots of laughs. Perhaps the highlight, though, was when Ted was invited on stage with the Jeff Blackburn Duo. He did his best impression of Darius Rucker singing “Wagon Wheel” — and let’s just say it was a “dinner and a movie” we are not likely to forget. It was a perfect evening, and the next morning, we all got a sense of renewal from the gorgeous views and one final stroll through the gardens.
If you take your own weekend trip to Brianza Winery, you’ll find entertainment in the live music that they host, including guest favorites like the aforementioned Jeff Blackburn Duo (sans a cameo from Ted), who cover a whole range of styles and genres, from fun Americana party music to Jimmy Buffett to bluegrass. The Marty Connor Band does covers of country music and 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s rock. Taylor Henry is a singer songwriter influenced by 60’s pop and early love progressive rock.
If you are looking for a bite to enjoy with their wine, you can purchase some Brianza local favorite flavor offerings like Summer Sausage from Avril and Bleh Butchers located in downtown Cincinnati, Ed Mar Dairy Cheese from Independence, Pretzels from Yankee Doodle Deli in Covington, or delicious beer cheese from Lexington. On Saturday nights, there are food trucks that cater to the masses like crowd favorite, family-run Peace Pizza, which offers wood-fired pizzas like margarita, pesto mushroom, and kalua pork and pineapple. Other favorites are Burgers to Shakes, Libby Ray’s Family BBQ, The WIcked Lobstah, and Rollin Bowls.
Whether you want a peaceful overnight stay, an afternoon wine tasting, an evening of entertainment, or a wedding destination, you’re certain to find your own “dinner and a movie” at Brianza. Go check out this little slice of heaven and tell Tony and Deb that the Bluegrass Travelers sent you. May the wine be ever in your favor.