Old Crow Inn now selling cases of beer

May 04, 2004|LIZ MAPLES

Cases of beer can now be sold legally at Chateau du Vieux Corbeau, the winery at Old Crow Inn.

The business was granted a malt beverage retail license and a restaurant wine license by the state Thursday after twice being turned down by the city. The Brousseaus, owners of the winery, applied for the licenses so that they could serve beer and champagne at weddings.

"We don't want to be a big beer store," Andre Brousseau said. "We're a winery first."

Voters in the precinct approved the winery in 2001, under the impression Brousseau would sell only the wine produced there.

After studying the law last fall, Brousseau said he discovered that the package license was available to the winery, along with the by-the-drink license for a restaurant or bed and breakfast on site. The restriction is that the purpose of the business is to promote viticulture and oenology, growing and making wine, and tourism.


The state faxed the newest licenses on Thursday, one of two days that the beer trucks are in Danville. Brousseau had them deliver that day and said as soon as the trucks turned off Stanford Road people followed them into the winery.

Business has picked up

Business has definitely picked up. People have already come from Garrard and Lincoln counties to pick up cases of beer. Brousseau said they come in, timidly, as if they expect the beer sales to be a rumor. Then they see the cases behind the counter.

"They are like deer in headlights," he said. "They see the beer and they just start to glow."

Already he has had requests for specialty beers, but he said that he knows wine, not beer.

He is selling hot cases, 24-packs, of domestic beers. The prices is about $2 more than at a traditional package liquor store, but Brousseau said some people have said it was worth it not to have to drive to Lawrenceburg or Nicholasville. Prices range from $12 -$20 a case.

Asked if he thought this was a deviation from what he told voters, Brousseau said that he didn't know at the time that the law would allow him to sell any wine in Kentucky and to hold the other licenses. He said the law is complex and contradictory.

He said he believes that voters saw the election as an alcohol issue not a just-wine issue.

"The people who were in favor of us having a winery were really in favor of us, not on the fence," he said. "We don't force people who come to our door to partake."

Old Crow has lost weddings and events because it couldn't serve beer and champagne, Brousseau said.

He won't be selling cold beer

He applied for the malt beverage retail license so that he could offer guests beer instead of wine. The license also allows him to sell cases of beer. But he says he won't be selling cold beer and plans to keep the selection limited.

"It's not worth it to be a liquor store," he said. "It's just not that type of place."

The restaurant wine license will allow him to have champagne at weddings. Before, small wedding parties sometimes made do with white-wine toasts, but Brousseau said for most it just wasn't the same. "Everybody wants to have a toast," Brousseau said.

With a winery license, the business can sell any wine produced in Kentucky, but there isn't a winery in the state that makes champagne or any other sparkling wine.

The new restaurant wine license allows them to import wines from out-of-state, but Brousseau said he doesn't see that happening. He believes that Kentucky makes the best wine in the country; even better than California.

Brousseau pointed out that the winery hosts events where no alcohol is served, and has had church bus tours there.

Danville denied the licenses in December, saying it didn't have the authority to grant such applications. Danville's liquor-by-the-drink vote only allows the city to grant licenses to restaurants. The Alcoholic Beverage Control board agreed, and granted the license after a review of an appeal filed by the Brousseaus.

The state, not the city, issued the licenses

The state, not the city, issued the licenses. The Brousseaus will pay state, not city, fees and taxes.

Brousseau is pleased with the ABC's decision.

"We've been struggling in the sense that we had some things we wanted to do, and couldn't," he said. "This allows us to be more competitive.

The winery grows white and red French-Hybrid grapes in the vineyard for wine production there. The Brousseau's also grow red, white and blue table grapes for eating.

The winery has produced a blackberry wine with berries grown organically at the farm on the inn grounds. It also has plans to make strawberry wine and apple ciders with locally grown fruit.

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