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The Baker-Bird Winery and Vineyard was constructed in the early 1850s by Abraham Baker. Baker was a German immigrant who, along with a large influx of his fellow Germans, arrived in Augusta, Kentucky at the beginning of the 1850s after traveling by boat along the Ohio River. Baker and his peers had operated lucrative wineries back in Germany, and sought to achieve the same success in the United States. Baker's business was built along Augusta-Chatham Road just off of West 2nd Street in Augusta, and is a brick and limestone building which is still standing today. Baker and his peers are credited with starting the Ohio Valley wine industry, with over half of all wine consumed in the United States during the 1850s-70s coming from Augusta, Kentucky. In 1974, Baker's winery was recognized by the National Register of Historic Places.

  • The winery's entrance.
  • Front view of the business.
  • A side view of the business.
  • The entrance to the business's storage cellar.
  • An outside view of the winery and its small vineyard.
  • One of the business's storage barrels.
  • A bottle of the business's wine.

Augusta, Kentucky is located along the Ohio River and is the oldest town in Bracken County, which was formed in 1796. Soon after the town's establishment, Augusta experienced the arrival of an influx of German immigrants, who sailed to the town on the Ohio River. Among these immigrants were the Ifterick, Switzer, and Baker families, all of whom hailed from lineages who had established themselves as expert vitners and sought to use their wine-making expertise to build new lives for themselves in the United States. The surrounding mountains and easy access to the Ohio River inspired them to view Augusta as the perfect spot to reestablish themselves.

The most prolific and successful of these endeavors was that made by the Baker family. In 1851, the family's patriarch, Abraham Baker, began construction on his own winery on what is now Augusta-Chatham Road, just off of the city's West 2nd Street. Baker, along with a team of German masons, built the winery themselves, adhering to the guidelines put forth by the American Vine Dresser's Guide (1826) which mandated that the wine cellar be eighteen feet deep, below the surface of the ground, and walled and arched with brick or stone materials. The cellar's location and design also enable it to remain at a constant temperature of around fifty-five degrees Fahrenheit, allowing for the preservation of Baker's stores. In addition to the cellar, Baker also planted a vineyard a few yards away from his business. Also included in the facility were living quarters for Baker and his family as well as a work space to bottle the wine. Baker's business - as well as his fellow Germans' - are credited with starting the wine industry in the Ohio Valley region, one which, in the following decades, proved to be incredibly lucrative, with over half of the wine consumed in the United States coming from Augusta, Kentucky. During the height of his business in the 1860s-70s, Baker was producing around 20,000 bottles of wine a year. The wine was sold to nearby residents and businesses in addition to being shipping down the Ohio River by flatboat to locations as far away as New Orleans.

Today, the winery and vineyard is still in operation, making it the oldest commercial winery in America which is still in its original location. The winery offers historic tours of its facilities and the surrounding area, and as of November 1974 has been recognized by the National Register of Historic Places.

Baker-Bird Winery, KentuckyWine. Accessed August 15th 2019.

About Us, BakerBird Distillery. Accessed August 15th 2019.

Historical Designation Nomination Form - Baker-Bird Winery. National Park Service. November 1974. Accessed August 15, 2019.

Image Sources(Click to expand)