The owners of Hermitage Farm in Goshen are expanding on the farm’s horse racing heritage with a new concept meant to attract diners and tourists.
Owners Steve Wilson and Laura Lee Brown announced Thursday that they’ll open a farm-to-table restaurant on the property as well as a bourbon experience that will celebrate the making of the popular beverage from “seed to sip.”
Wilson and Brown, who are married, bought the farm in 2003 to ensure it was not turned into housing. They previously said they sought to expand on the vision of its previous owners, the Henshaw-Waters family, Warner Jones and Carl Pollard, as a successful Thoroughbred horse operation.
Their vision of that plan is a roughly 14,000-square-foot restaurant inside barn eight on the property. It will seat about 150 people and have a locally raised and grown concept, with plans to hire a chef to oversee the menu and a large processing kitchen, the couple said at a news conference at the farm.
The restaurant will feature hogs, chickens and bison raised on the couple’s nearby farm and other area farms. Wilson and Brown also own Kentucky Bison Co., as well as the Louisville-based 21c Museum Hotel chain.
About 7,500 or so square feet in the “mechanic’s barn” will be converted into a bourbon experience, which will include demonstrations of fermentation, distillation and aging with a tasting area but no distillery. It will showcase local brands.
A third new element at Hermitage Farm is an equine experience where visitors will be able to see horses up close. The tourism destinations will be surrounded by gardens and orchards, where the farm will produce its own fresh vegetables. Wilson said it will take a few years to fully grow out the gardens and orchards.
A parking lot with more than 100 spaces also will be added alongside overflow parking.
There are no cost estimates for the project, which is expected to start construction in the first quarter with an 18-month buildout, Wilson said. The work is dependent on zoning approval by Oldham County government, he said. Because the project is in the early stages, there is no name as of yet for the attraction.
In addition, it was announced that about one-third of the nearly 700-acre farm along U.S. 42 will be placed in a conservation easement for agricultural use only.
Bob Gunnell, a spokesman for the project with Louisville public relations firm Boxcar PR, said he expects the tourist destination to be popular in Oldham County as well as with conventioneers visiting Louisville who want a great dining experience paired with a tour of bourbon history. It could play well specifically with those convention-goers who may not have time to take a tour of the Urban Bourbon Trail.
The farm has been home to more than 200 stakes winners, including 1953 Kentucky Derby Winner Dark Star. Brown and Wilson also have hosted the lavish Hermitage Grand Gala, a Kentucky Derby party, at the farm.