New winery to open soon in Jessamine County

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, October 18, 2023

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In 2022, Jessamine County’s Chrisman Mill Vineyard & Winery closed its doors after serving its wine for 25 years. A new family is moving onto the property to bring life back into the once-loved space with Ghost Fox Winery.

On Thursday, Oct. 12, the Jessamine County Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the winery, celebrating their joining.

The new winery owners are set to open any week now and are only waiting for their local, state, and federal alcohol and tobacco licenses to be finalized.

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For Mallory and Josh Morris, owning a winery has been a dream of the married couple for 15 years. Mallory is a chemist by trade, working as a manager at a sports supplements testing facility, and Josh is a pilot.

When she was in college, Mallory worked for a Kentucky winery, and when the two lived in Maryland, Josh also worked at a winery. Since Josh was in the military, the family traveled worldwide for around nine years. One of those places is where their dream officially began.

Josh had been stationed in Japan, and that’s where Mallory’s wine-making career took off.

“I had three years of nowhere to work, nothing to do, and I figured I could make wine with a five-gallon bucket in the house. So we got the supplies for it, and you can find them on Amazon, surprisingly. We started making wine in our closet. We were giving it to friends, and it just got to the point where we were making a lot of wine, and we had friends tell us, ‘You should sell this!’” Mallory said, responding that they’ll get into selling their wine in the future once they both retire.

But Kentucky had other plans. Josh finished his military service, and the couple returned to the Bluegrass State.

In Woodford County, they had found a property with a big empty barn that was available for rent.

They turned that barn into their winery, using imported grapes from California, Oregon and New York, and made six varietals of wine for their first batch.

The Morris’ first sold their wine under their company name in June at the Jessamine County Wine and Vine Fest, but soon realized their space was not enough and they needed more equipment.

Thanks to Mallory’s realtor cousin, the couple found the Chrisman Mill Property, which was available for sale. The previous owners of the property, Chris and Denise Nelson, built the vineyard from the ground up and left everything they used in their wine-making process for the next person who bought the property.

The Morris’ went to see the property to see if they could buy any of the equipment on site. Instead, they decided to buy everything- the entire property with the vineyard, the tasting room, the event space and a home for the couple and their young son and daughter.

According to Mallory, the family moved just in time for the children to start at Warner Elementary School.

She is pleased with the result: “They got enrolled, and they absolutely love the area, and we’re excited to be a part of the community. It’s just been so welcoming and wonderful to be out here.”

Mallory is grateful to have this space and have the guidance of the previous owners.

“Chris and Denise have been super helpful also. We met them on our closing day, and they were so kind as to walk us around the property and show us everything they had done. Chris left us a journal of the vineyard notes and everything he had used for the past decade. It’s just so nice that they wanted to leave their winery and vineyard with people who could take care of it, and the fact that they trusted us to do that is amazing,” Mallory said.

Although it was too late to harvest once the Morris family moved in, Mallory said that the two plan to add more vines on the property over the next ten years to make wine from Kentucky grapes.

How did the couple get the name Ghost Fox Winery?

Since their son was born in Japan and the family loved the culture so much, they wanted to honor their time there with the name of their winery.

The name comes from a Japanese Folk Tale. When Japanese people answer the phone, you may hear the greeting, “Moshi, moshi!”. Though the term is derived from the verb meaning “to say,” and as a greeting, it means “Hello” or “I’m going to talk,” it is also thought to ward off fox spirits- which do exist in Japanese folklore.

Since it is too difficult for fox spirits to say “moshi, moshi,” you can easily confirm that you are not a fox spirit and are a friend.

“Foxes are very sneaky, tricky individuals, and they can shape-shift into a beautiful woman, and they’ll try to trick you into marrying them so they can take all of your money,” Mallory said.

What will they offer? When will they be open?

Because the two have full-time jobs, the couple will only have the winery open on the weekends and a few weeknights, such as Thursday and Friday.

One thing that Mallory said they are trying to ensure is that wine is accessible to everyone. So, the winery will be offering two wine cocktails per season.

“We want people to want to come out and drink wine even if that hasn’t been their beverage of choice, so what we’ve been doing is making wine cocktails where we take our wine and we mix them with beverage infusions and fruits and we have one that gets mixed with green tea which is light and refreshing for our spring wine,” she said.

Currently, they are trying out some new cocktails to sell at the Jessamine Fall Festival.

For winery visitors, plates of snacks the couple found to pair well with the wines will be offered for sale. Some of these items are an homage to the places they’ve lived internationally, like sweet mochi balls from Japan or dark chocolate pretzels. The plates will be offered in three tasty flavors: sweet, spicy, or savory.

The two have also renovated the space with facelift updates. There has been no reconstruction, but there is new paint, new floors, a new bar, and a new tasting room all ready to be enjoyed.

If you are interested in booking events, there will be a contact form on the Ghost Fox website, so anyone can call or email and will be provided with pricing lists.

“We have a private event space for renting or the entire facility. If you wanted a wedding, you could rent out the entire space for the day,” Mallory said.

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