History in a bottle

Mini-grant helps mother-and-son duo bring worldly wine experience to downtown Somerset
SOMERSET, KENTUCKY (October 12, 2023) — A full-bodied world of wine is coming to southeastern Kentucky.

The past several years have seen a revitalization of downtown Somerset, from the reopening of The Virginia to the continued beautification of Fountain Square and the blooming of new businesses up and down East Mount Vernon Street. That breath of new life into this multifaceted city has given Somerset’s residents and visitors new opportunities to explore. This winter, they’ll have another such opportunity: Southern Vines Wine Salon.

A passion project for mother-and-son duo Lee and Jake Redmond, recipients of a mini-grant from the Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA), Southern Vines will be a portal to the vibrant vistas of vino.

“We want to introduce the wonderful world of wine to everyone,” Lee said.And that world, as she says with unbound enthusiasm, will be all-encompassing.

“Southern Vines will feature wines from across the globe,” Lee explained. “Vintages hail from Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, South Africa, Argentina, New Zealand, and many more countries.” She also notes that patrons will have the chance to taste the breadth and depths of wine from the United States, from regions including New York, Washington, Oregon, and, of course, the Bluegrass State.

You can’t speak with the Redmonds without also feeling unrestrained joy when they discuss the ins and outs of their project, particularly in their desire to bring their passion and know-how to the people of Somerset. And that passion comes honestly, cultivated by a lifetime of serving the public.

While living in Colorado, Jake built a holistic health consulting firm, while Lee has been around the hospitality industry the majority of her life, growing up with a father who managed restaurants and nightclubs. Her most recent entrepreneurial endeavor included bringing a cottage village experience to Texas wine country.

It’s little wonder, then, why the Redmonds exude such excitement about their project, as it brings together their love of serving people and serving wine.

The Redmonds want Southern Vines Wine Salon to exude as much beauty and care on the outside as is experienced on the inside, which is where SPEDA’s contribution will be invaluable. The $2,500 mini-grant will be applied to costs associated with renovating, painting, and lighting the wine salon, which will be located in one of those storied East Mount Vernon Street buildings, as well as replacing windows and doors and improving the awnings.

“Downtown Somerset is going through a tremendous revitalization,” Jake said. “We want our building to be a beautiful addition to the Arts and Entertainment District.”

The Redmonds have grand plans for that addition, both for the building and the flavor it brings to the community.

“We offer our guests a vibrant and beautiful atmosphere to learn about wine or just drink a glass,” Lee said. “It is truly the world’s most captivating beverage.”

The Redmonds envision the Southern Vines experience as custom-built, completely dependent on the patron’s desires that day. “We give our patrons the opportunity to delve deep into the subject if they would like,” Jake said. “Our certified sommeliers (wine stewards) can discuss soil, rain, tannins, acid, and more all day long. Knowledge enhances the experience of wine.”

However, if patrons are in the mood for a more low-key affair, the salon will also allow them the opportunity to take in the moment by lingering over a glass of wine, letting the taste and the music delight all the senses for a relaxing visit.

Southern Vines has far-reaching plans for a positive impact on Pulaski County. With the goal of opening on New Year’s Eve, Lee said, “Southern Vines intends to be one of the premiere establishments where people can enjoy downtown nightlife. We want to give guests an experience they will never forget.”

Those ambitions are fueled by what earning the SPEDA mini-grant has meant to them.

“The grant impacts us on a personal level because it is a sign that we are on the right path,” Lee said. “It is very encouraging to have the support of SPEDA. To be awarded the grant is quite an honor. We want to contribute to the community the best way we know how.”

And all roads to that community spirit lead back to wine and connecting with people.

“Wine is the only beverage that reflects the terroir of where it comes from,” Lee said. “It connects people to the place and people who produced it, sometimes from long ago. It is like drinking history in a bottle.”To keep up with the progress of Southern Vines Wine Salon, follow the business on Instagram @southernvineswine.