Have you ever met someone for the first time and instantly you could see into their heart? It’s a pretty incredible experience. Sharing your emotions, the most personal side of you, especially with strangers, takes courage. But for Lauren Manuel Rutherford, Marketing Director for Talon Winery in Lexington, Kentucky, it’s something that comes naturally to her, and we learned from the get-go that Talon is built on two very important things: love and family
We met Lauren on a beautiful August day as the winery was opening. Located just off Tate’s Creek Road in Lexington, Talon sits on 300 acres of gorgeous farmland covered in steep and fertile vineyards, and it is also home to Lauren’s entire extended family. Greeted by a beautiful front entrance with brightly colored flowers and a quaint sidewalk, we soon made our way into Talon’s historic home.
Steeped in History
Talon’s tasting room is in a farmhouse that was built in 1790 by Kentucky’s first governor, Isaac Shelby, for his daughter as a wedding present. This 200-year-old home would undoubtedly make a fascinating novel with its rich history and multigenerational secrets. It’s even said to be haunted by a dark-haired bride seen ascending the staircase, and there have been sightings of children looking out the window.
Lauren’s grandparents, Harriet Allen and Charlie Tackett, purchased the farm in 1998 and made combining names cool way before Brangelina. They fused their last names – Tackett and Allen – to create Talon.
Though Talon was the first winery in Fayette County, Harriet and Charlie did not originally intend for the farm to be a winery. After purchasing the property at their granddaughter’s suggestion, Harriet, a lawyer, quickly decided that they would need to find a way to make money to sustain it. They made the decision to open a winery right about the time it was discovered that red wine prevents heart disease – a fortuitous decision.
Harriet and Charlie were new to winemaking and received guidance from many outside sources, who assisted them in both the growing and winemaking processes. They made the first batch of wine from their grapes in 2000 and officially opened their doors for business in 2004.
Relax and Un-wined
Talon has five acres of vineyards, two and a half of which are for the chambourcin grapes they use in their Coyote Red and Toasted wines. Their vineyards are also open to the public and they invite people to come pick grapes at the end of August through early October during their harvest time. If you ever get the chance, it’s a fun experience and a great way to feel a part of the wine you enjoy.
When Ted and I want to unwind after a busy week, we often find ourselves at their second location in Shelbyville, set just off I-64. Opened in 2009, the beautiful country setting creates a sense of tranquility with a serene pond and picturesque view. They also have their own line of wine called Sugarlips, which was created in 2015.
This location is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a chilled bottle of Southern Rose and some of Larry Mac’s delicious wine and bourbon cheese. The Shelbyville location is definitely one of our favorite places for a date. After 35 years of marriage, I still love going out on dates with my handsome husband. I get more smitten with each passing year. I won the lottery with him.
One of the things we love about Talon is how pet-friendly they are. The Shelbyville location has a big open field where Truly can run and explore. Talon was our first stop the day we adopted Truly and she became a part of our family. It is a beautiful memory that we will always cherish.
Southern Rose and Coyote Red are two of our favorite wines at Talon. Their Southern Rose is a dry rosé with flavors of strawberry and cherry, and it goes best with light dishes. Their Coyote Red is a semi-sweet estate red blend and pairs well with cheese or chocolate desserts. If we are in the mood for a dry red, we go with the Toasted Estate Chambourcin, which is aged first in KY oak barrels and then in KY bourbon barrels. As for white wine, we like the Chardonnay and Sugar Lips Vidal Blanc, which is a bright and tropical white wine that pairs great with spicy foods. (And you know we love our spicy foods!)
All of their wines are delicious and divine. A tasting is a great way to try many different kinds of wine, and you get free tastings when you join their wine club. The wine club allows you to choose wine quarterly – three bottles, six bottles, or even a case. We’ve been wine club members for the last six years and we highly recommend it. You can even order personalized wine labels, which are perfect for a gift. Both locations also have a shop where you can buy all things wine as well as their own Talon merchandise.
Talon is a female-owned family business. Harriet is involved with all of the big decision-making. Lauren’s mom, aunt, sisters, and cousins all work in various capacities throughout the year from bartending to event planning to working the tasting room. As Lauren told us, “you just pitch in where you are needed that day.”
We met Lauren’s sister Olivia Manuel, who was working in the tasting room the day we were there. “She is the incredible talent behind the artwork on some of our wine labels,” Lauren shared. Lauren couldn’t resist having a proud sister moment, showing us some pictures of Olivia’s artwork. Having a son who is an artist, we recognize amazing talent when we see it, and Olivia is very talented.
Lauren was such a heartwarming person to interview. She has an incredibly infectious personality and bright smile that seems to sprinkle a little stardust wherever she goes. I asked Lauren if she would be offended if I used the term “adorable” to describe her, and, adorably, she giggled, “No, I take that as a compliment.”
She was a delight to interview, but it was when I asked her about her relationship with her grandmother that it became emotional. Her eyes filled up with tears as she explained that people call her a “mini-me” of Harriet. “We are very close and are always on the same wavelength,” she said. Lauren proudly described her grandmother as very strong and very independent. She is one out of 14 siblings and was the only one to graduate from college before going on to become a lawyer. “She is always motivated and never tired,” Lauren said. “She is 71 years old and nothing holds her back.” I could see and feel Lauren’s love for her grandmother beaming from her chest
Maybe I could see it because I feel the same love and adoration for my daughter that she feels for Harriet. Christine is often called my “mini-me” – primarily because we look alike, but also, I think, because we have similar hearts. We are both very mothering and protective over the people we love. She loves to bake like me. She loves spoiling people and giving gifts like me. She also looks for the best in people.
We talk every day and I ask her, “How was your 24?” She starts from the time we hung up the day before to the moment I answer her call. Christine is invested in everything she does: her work, her art, her community, her cat Swayze, and most definitely her family and friends. Our call is a way for us to download our day and destress, where we can feel free to vent about our frustrations and celebrate our joys. We are each other’s confidants, therapists, and cheerleaders.
The connection I feel to both of my children is beyond explanation. With them both living on the East Coast, music is a way for me to feel close to them. Mitchell and I have a song, “Time after Time” by Cindi Lauper, and we danced to it at his wedding. That dance was magical and I’ll never forget it as long as I live.
Christine and I also have a song, Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings.” The lyrics were written for the movie Beaches, which is about two best friends, one in the limelight and one in the shadows. The song is about their love, adoration, and support for one another. The chorus of the song goes:
Did I ever tell you that you’re my hero?
You’re everything, everything I wish I could be,
Oh, and I, I could fly higher than an eagle
For you are the wind beneath my wings.
Cause you are the wind beneath my wings.
That’s how I feel about my daughter. I may be her mother, but she is my hero – truly everything I wish that I could be. She’s the best parts of her dad and me. She is an incredible human being. I don’t know what I’d do without her. She is the wind beneath my wings. Talking to Lauren about Harriet, it was clear to me that she feels the same way – and that is a beautiful thing.
Raise a Glass
If you’re thinking about treating someone who’s the wind beneath your wings, Talon is the perfect place to unwind together. They offer a variety of music from local artists on weekends at both locations. They also host corporate events, like their 10th annual Makenna David Pediatric Emergency Department Summer Concert Series, which raises money for children facing life-threatening trauma and illness, and includes live music, a silent auction, games, wine, and food trucks. The Shelbyville location is a great venue to host personal events as well.
Talon’s Lexington location is the ideal place for a wedding. The Monarch Pavilion, with both covered and open areas, offers the bride and groom an outdoor experience. Talon also offers the Ca”Barn”et Barrel Barn, which has a romantic and rustic-chic vibe. Both areas have incredible views of the gorgeous farmland, old pond, and vineyards. Lauren and her husband tied the knot on the farm in 2017, which made her wedding that much more meaningful and magical.
No matter the occasion, or for no occasion at all, grab a picnic basket and your favorite people and head out to Talon Winery for a relaxing and enjoyable time. Indulge yourself with a bottle of their award-winning wines and don’t forget to check out their wine club membership. And if you see an adorable young lady with a beautiful smile, that’s Lauren. Say hello to her for us and tell her the Bluegrass Travelers sent you