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Death of co-owner delays Talon's grape-planting

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By Steve Doyle

There are no grapes in the ground at the Talon Winery in Shelby County.

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The acreage surrounding its beautiful tasting room on Gordon Lane remains planted in grasses and flowers, and there’s no firm date when grape seedlings might be planted.

Officials at the winery had said when its tasting room opened last spring that they planned to plant the vines this March. They cited an unusually wet spring as a reason they were delaying the planting.

But now tragedy has required a further delay.

Shortly after the facility opened in May, co-owner Charlie Tackett, 80, learned that he had arterial lateral sclerosis (ALS). He passed away in September.

“He went through several months of the illness,” said Lori Baumgardner, Tackett’s step-daughter and one of the managers of the winery. “He had Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and he went pretty fast.

“Really money and that [delayed the planting]. It kind of got us out of synch last year, and we just haven’t gotten around to it.”

She said that there is no firm schedule on when Talon might plant here.

“We don’t have a time frame,” she said. “It’s something we’re planning on doing. We don’t have a definite date set. We’re working toward it.”

A vineyard takes several years to mature and produce wine, and the plants require significant care and feeding to nourish them to their maturity. Climate and soil issues are delicate factors.

Baumgardner’s mother, Harriett Allen, and Tackett got into the wine business by purchasing an old tobacco farm in Fayette County. Talon harvested its first crop of grapes in 2002 and opened to the public in 2004. The company purchased its 17 acres in Shelby County in 2007.

Its wines include most varietals and feature a Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve for about $50 a bottle. Two of its reds have been honored with gold and bronze awards form the 2007 International Eastern Wine Competition.

Talon also won six medals – one in each category it entered – at the 2009 Kentucky State Fair.

The tasting room, which opened just before the Kentucky Derby, continues to draw customers to sample and purchase the wines, participate in special events and visit a gift shop.

“We like being in Shelbyville,” Baumgardner said. “We had a great first year.”

The company’s purchase of its land in Shelby County required a special election in 2008 so that the acreage could be used for selling wine as well as growing grapes.

Shelby farmer and businessman Ferenc Vegh went through a similar process in 2009 so that he could add a tasting room at his winery near Southville.

Vegh already had planted grapes, but won’t have any wine from them for several years.