For the second year in a row, Paducah's Purple Toad Winery received the most medals at the Kentucky Commonwealth Commercial Wine competition.
The winery, located at 4275 Old U.S. 45 South, earned 19 medals - three gold, 11 silver, and five bronze - at the recent competition in Lexington.
According to Allen Dossey, Purple Toad owner, the local winery is growing just like its list of awards.
"We're probably the third largest in the state already," said Dossey. "We sell in three states - Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois - and we're getting ready to go into Tennessee."
The winery, which just celebrated its five-year anniversary, caters to newer wine drinkers, Dossey said.
"Most of the newer wine drinkers will drink a sweet wine," said Dossey. "Ours are what we really consider a gourmet sweet wine, with more of a fruit flavor."
According to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, prior to Prohibition, Kentucky was the third largest grape and wine producing state in the nation.
Currently, Kentucky has more than 113 grape producers growing 583 acres of grapes.
Dossey's "day job" is as president of Western Rivers Insurance, "but wine is my nights and weekends."
Although he grew up on a farm, what he learned about making wine he pretty much got on his own.
"I just read some books," he said. "I can usually take something, read it, and use it."
When he won a gold medal in his first competition he was hooked, Dossey said.
Wine is growing in popularity, especially among women, Dossey said.
He estimates women make up to 70 percent of his customers, and that 80 percent of the wine sold is purchased by women.
While Purple Toad sells mainly to liquor stores, its wines are available at some local restaurants.
The search for a name for his wine business was somewhat exhaustive, Dossey said, working through trademark and copyright issues.
After narrowing the field, he had somewhat settled on the name "Purple Toe'd," playing with the idea that the old-fashioned way to make wine was stomping grapes, which would leave a residue of a certain color on one's toes.
Some unofficial market research apparently changed his mind.
"The ladies did not like it ... they thought it sounded like dirty feet."
Contact David Zoeller, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8676.
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