Historic Site Of Old Taylor Distillery

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Old Taylor Distillery


Friday, September 11 ~ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
~ 341 Madison Place Lexington, KY
Private Cocktail Party for attendees of the LIFE + STYLE presentations

Price: $50.00 – per person


  • Tour of Proven Winners Southern Test Garden.
  • Cocktail Party.

Saturday, September 12 ~ 8:00 am – 4:00 pm
Old Taylor Distillery ~ 4335 McCracken Pike, Frankfort, KY
LIFE + STYLE presentations

Price: $125.00 per person
Table of Eight – $900.00 (10% savings)


  • Breakfast – Prepared by Sage Garden Cafe.
  • Inspiring lifestyle presentations.
  • Lunch – Prepared by a “Famous Guest Chef.”
  • Incredible swag bag!


Friday, September 11
September 11, 2015 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Private Cocktail Party ~ Tour of Proven Winners Southern Test Garden

Historic Botherum

Exclusive to Old Taylor Distillery attendees.
Seating is limited!

Saturday, September 12
September 12, 2015 8:00 am - 8:30 am

Continental Breakfast ~ prepared by Sage at Wilson’s Nursery

September 12, 2015 8:30 am - 9:00 am

Marshall Dirks ~ Great New Plants for 2016

September 12, 2015 9:00 am - 9:30 am

Val Schrimer/Elizabeth Montgomery ~ All about Cocktail Gardening

September 12, 2015 9:30 am - 10:00 am

Caroline Allison ~ How to Really Photograph a Garden

~ Tips for all levels of photographers

September 12, 2015 10:00 am - 10:15 am


September 12, 2015 10:15 am - 10:45 am

Sally Van Winkle Campbell – Saving Kentucky

September 12, 2015 10:45 am - 11:15 am

George Gatewood/Vance Evans ~ Barn to Table

September 12, 2015 11:15 am - 11:45 am

Roianne Ridley ~ Winning Floral Design

September 12, 2015 11:45 am - 1:00 pm

Lunch ~ Prepared by a “Famous Guest Chef”

PLUS The Sunken Garden tour led by Jon Carloftis

September 12, 2015 1:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Jennifer Wilson ~ Edible Gardens Designed to Keep it Real!

Brianna Forbes Feistritzer ~ The Best Proven Winners Shrubs for your Home

September 12, 2015 1:30 pm - 2:00 pm

Matt Bizzell ~ Caring for the Gardens of Churchill Downs

September 12, 2015 2:00 pm - 2:30 pm

Sharon Bale ~ Inspired Floral Design from the Garden

September 12, 2015 2:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Jon Carloftis ~ Garden Tours with cocktails and appetizers

~ Sunken Garden
~ Botanic Walk
~ Old Taylor Distillery

September 12, 2015 3:30 pm - 4:00 pm

Marianne Barnes ~ Master Distiller


Jon Carloftis

Jon Carloftis Fine Gardens

Garden Topics:

Garden Tours

Kentucky native, Jon Carloftis, award-winning garden designer, garden writer, television guest, author, and lecturer, is a great American gardener. His career in gardening began in 1988, far from home in New York City where he became one of America’s pioneers and leading authorities in rooftop/small space gardening. 

Jon grew up on the banks of the Rockcastle River in South Central Kentucky, in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. It was there he began a love affair with nature. Jon is the owner of the Rockcastle River Trading Company, a popular home and garden store located on his family’s property in Livingston, Kentucky.  The beautiful gardens, designed by Jon, that surround the Carloftis home and store have been featured in Story, Sophisticated Living, BMW Magazine, Country Home, Garden & Gun, Outdoor Rooms, and Southern Living.

Be sure to check out the article on historic Botherum in the April 2015 issue of Southern Living!

Val Schirmer and Elizabeth Montgomery

Three Toads Farm

Garden Topics:

All about Cocktail Gardening!

A little Kentucky bourbon is most likely the force behind every great big, totally far-fetched idea. That’s what happened in 1997 when Val Schirmer made a pact with family friend, Charlie Hendricks, to start a tiny business growing flowers. But not just any flowers. The pair had the crazy idea they wanted to grow the kind of flowers that could literally stop people in their tracks. Big awesome blooms. “Let’s grow what others don’t know about, won’t try or can’t grow.”

Over a few bourbon-infused toasts on that summer evening on the Schirmer’s front porch, Three Toads Farm — which Martha Stewart Weddings has just named one of the top 10 farmer-florists in the country — was born and the pair learned through trial and error over the next several years to grow the biggest, boldest Oriental lilies that most people have ever seen.

As part of the local flower renaissance taking place around the world, Three Toads Farm specializes in growing uncommon and heirloom flowers (along with their signature lilies) as well as fresh-from-the-garden fine floral wedding and event design, thanks to Hendricks’ daughter, Elizabeth Montgomery, who interned as a Toad when she was 11.

At Old Taylor Distillery, Val and Elizabeth will show us what to grow to create fabulous cocktail and culinary treats, plus use in drop-dead awesome arrangements for our cocktail parties!

Caroline Allison

Garden Topics:

How to Really Photograph a Garden

Allison is a photographer based in Nashville, Tennessee.  Since 2008, she has been a contributing photographer for Garden & Gun Magazine.  In addition, she has had work published in Southern Living, Travel + Leisure, The Wall Street Journal, Oxford American, Traditional Home, and others.  She is currently working with Jon Carloftis on a book!

In addition to her work as an editorial and commercial photographer, she regularly exhibits her artistic work as well.  Her photographs have been exhibited both nationally and internationally including exhibitions at the Bronx Museum of Art, the Chicago Cultural Center, and Momentum Art in Berlin.  Her work has been included in group exhibitions at Howard Greenberg Gallery, Lehmann Maupin, and Apex Art in New York City.  She was the recipient of a Bronx Museum AIM fellowship and was artist in residence for the Amt fur Wissenschaft und Kunst in Frankfurt, Germany.  In 2009 she represented Tennessee in The 50 States Project,, and was a 2010 nominee for the Baum Foundation Award.

Sally VanWinkle Campbell


Sally Van Winkle Campbell is a native Kentuckian and author of two award-winning books; But Always Fine Bourbon and Saving Kentucky. She is the Granddaughter of “Pappy” Van Winkle.

” I didn’t set out to be an author. My first book jumped out of my heart. It took four years and after that I thought I’d never write another book – a sentiment that lasted about twenty minutes. I suppose the same impulse that drove me to write But Always Fine Bourbon – the story of the rise and fall of our family distillery, inspired Saving Kentucky…too often we don’t know what we have until we lose it.
During the ten years that it took to produce Saving Kentucky– my friend and renowned photographer – Thomas Hart Shelby and I traveled Kentucky – driving up and down two-lane roads where sagging tobacco barns bore witness to an industry once so important but now all but gone from the landscape. We stopped in towns so tiny as to be one or two blocks long – where the people are close…we traveled the roads of the Bluegrass – mile after mile of low stone walls snaking through the thoroughbred horse farms that are legendary to the state. We saw first-hand the majesty and the heartbreak of the eastern Appalachian Mountains and the people who live in them.
Saving Kentucky tells the stories of an amazing group of Kentuckians who are going to extraordinary lengths to save the things that are so important to our heritage:
the land – the mountains – the small towns and historic buildings – a way of life. And they are doing it not just for themselves – but for all of us – and for our children and grandchildren.”

Longwood Antique Woods

Garden Topics:

Barn to Table

Longwood Antique Woods have been the pioneers of reclaiming and recycling old wood for twenty-four years and has supplied countless material solutions for floors, doors, bars, beams, furniture art, and much more.  The antique wood in our collections is salvaged from historic barns, warehouses, and cabins slated for destruction throughout the Bluegrass region of Kentucky.   Our mission is to supply a green product with a unique history; whether it is from the barn of highly recognized War Admiral or rural farmer Papa Shepard. Reclaimed barns are the main source of our flooring and building materials. Some can be as old as 150 years.

The company was started by George Gatewood of Mt. Sterling, KY. His vision was to save every board from the barns he kept seeing the farmers loosing. Constantly in search of pie safes and old trinkets, George knows his way around the back roads!

Roiann Ridley


Garden Topics:

Floral Design

From an early age Roiann went to the woods with her grandmother to forage. The joy of finding beautiful objects in nature still guides her philosophy of floral design today. With over 30 years of experience managing businesses that are unique and customer-oriented, Roiann has has established a reputation for providing upscale style at a reasonable cost.

Her most recent venture is a unique retail and floral design shop—opened in 2005, MacKenzie’s is named after her cherished thoroughbred horse. The retail space and studio are located in Bowling Green, Kentucky where Roiann fulfills daily floral orders; she also provides wedding and special event services nationwide. Finding daily inspiration in things that are obvious in nature and also in things often hidden from the casual observer, Roiann’s design schemes reflect this proclivity—as well creativity, talent and skill. Her florals are crafted with finest products sourced locally, regionally as well as internationally. Roiann has trained with Kenneth Turner in London and has been distinguished as a one of the Chapel Designers wedding experts.

Matt Bizzell

Garden Topics:

Churchill Downs Gardens

Matt Bizzell is the Director of Horticulture at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. He has a B.A. in Biology from Indiana University Southeast and started working for Churchill shortly after graduating. He has a lifelong love of history, nature, and unusual plants. He resides in a historic house built by his ancestors in New Albany, Indiana.

As a kid, Matt used to play around the abandoned Old Taylor site, so he should have some fun stories for us!

Jennifer Wilson & Brianna Forbes Feistritzer

Wilson Nurseries

Garden Topics:

All about Herb Gardens and The Best Proven Winners Shrubs for your home

Jennifer Wilson is the CEO and owner of Wilson Nurseries, Kentucky’s largest destination garden center and nursery. A born Midwesterner, her passion for plants was decided by childhood moments in her Grandparent’s vegetable gardens and caring for their collection of over 200 African Violets. Her choice of college brought her south and it was here that she developed not only a dedication to greenhouse growing, but also her singular affection for herbs and edibles gardening, which was nurtured in her by a plant propagation mentor. A true love for the nursery industry and an eye for design helped her shape Wilson Nurseries toward a new way of thinking about gardening and an entrepreneur’s spirit combined with tireless work guided her to grow Wilson Nurseries, along with its sister companies to their present form. Jennifer lives with her husband and teenage daughters on their Central Kentucky farm, abounding with plant and animal life.


Brianna Forbes Feistritzer is a plant enthusiast and a key part of the creative and visual design team at Wilson Nurseries for nearly 14 years. She is a graduate of the UK School of Landscape Architecture and has been instrumental in the layout and grounds design of the nursery.

Her latest projects include a Monarch Way Station and the design and development of a butterfly house at Wilson Nurseries. As woody plant aficionado, she is also an advocate of historic preservation and economic development in her community of Danville through her role on the Heart of Danville Board. When she isn’t wrangling children, dogs, and chickens she enjoys working in the garden with her husband and finding balance in yoga.

Sharon Bale

Sharon Bale has three loves – plants, food and people, particularly her grandchildren Harper and Jack – but she happily tolerates every one else.

A retired extension floriculture specialist at UK with more than 30 years in the department of horticulture, Sharon eared her creds and expertise getting her hands dirty, buried in the study of plants and sharing her knowledge of floral design through her classes. Those who listened, like students Jon Carloftis and John Morris, developed their passion because of her teaching.

She has designed for dozens of weddings and traveled far and wide to make brides’ wedding dreams come true. She calls her van her office and in it she travels the U.S. including serving as designer for presidential pre-inaugural balls for the Kentucky Society in D.C. Closer to home, she has worked as designer for both the Lieutenant Governor’s and Governor’s mansions on special occasions such as inaugurations, derby festivities and holidays. She was tapped as chief designer when the Old Mansion was filmed for A&E’s “America’s Castles,” and more recently designed for the Mansion’s Centennial Gala.

Throughout her career she was in charge of the annual and perennial plants at the UK Arboretum. It was no stretch for her at Carloftis’ urging to create a chef’s garden at the Arboretum and work with national notable chefs for a feature in “Country Living” – Ultimate American Kitchen Garden, April 2012.

Sharon’s flair for entertaining includes delicious food given hours and sometimes days of attention. While she goes to great length in her cooking, her personal style for floral decorations is quite simple. Her advice always: utilizer flowers and plants from the yard or your neighbor’s yard; less is more. “You don’t have to be a skilled designer to create an inviting setting in which to entertain.” Good food, interesting and fun guests and a thoughtful table are always the combination to a successful event.

Marianne Barnes

Garden Topics:

Master Distiller

Raised and educated in Oldham County, Kentucky, Marianne Barnes took a fascinating path from an interest in design to liquor. Although she always loved science and math in school, as a youngster her “dream jobs” when grown up progressed from linguist, to designer, and in high school had ambitions to be a mechanic even led to an active avocation working with cars. It wasn’t until her father suggested she might like engineering, which the path started on the direction to making spirits. Little did she realize that she would find herself in a history-making position in which the creative and the scientific would come together. A fortuitous confluence of circumstances – her love of science, analytic mind, exceptional sensory skills, drive, and a fateful internship choice – led to her being the first woman to earn the title of Master Distiller in Kentucky since Prohibition.

As a college student at University of Louisville, Barnes wasn’t sure just how she would utilize her chemical engineering degree. Barnes found herself having to make a choice between several possible college internships. It finally came down to choosing between renewable energy research or working for Brown-Forman. Choosing an internship in Brown-Forman’s R&D department where she first learned to make bourbon, though, would set her on in a direction that would put her squarely in the path of Bourbon history. “Being mentored by Woodford’s legendary Master Distiller Chris Morris was one of the best things that ever happened to me; learning from him really brought all of my studies and hard work together,” said Barnes. Barnes was recognized in Whiskey Advocate Magazine as “The Next Generation” for the Bourbon Industry, as well as being honored by Forbes and included in the 2015 Food & Drink 30 under 30 list. Now she steps into the role of Master Distiller herself. Her combination of technical knowledge honed by hands-on experience, with a specialized palate and creative sensibility turn out to be a unique formula for her role as Master Distiller.

At 28, Barnes is well poised as a leader of the new generation of Spirits professionals that will shape the industry. She points out that her goals are “100% inline with our overall product strategy, total transparency. I want to have my hands on every part of the process to make sure I are making the highest quality products.” Barnes adds that she wants to be known “as an innovator that respects tradition and uses traditional style product and process as inspiration”.    

Barnes’ role in changing the dynamic in a predominantly male industry is clear. Praise for Barnes comes from thought leaders such Fred Minnick, author of Whiskey Women, who states that, “now that Marianne Barnes takes this title, she honors all the women past, present and future as the first woman to rise up the production ranks at a major Kentucky bourbon company and become a master distiller”.

Marshall Dirks

Proven Winners

Garden Topics:

Great New Plants for 2015 ~ How a Plant Becomes a Proven Winners

Marshall Dirks will bring his enthusiasm, humor and 20+ years of experience with Proven Winners products to “center stage” at the Keeneland LIFE + STYLE event.  As the second employee hired by Proven Winners, he is technically in charge of marketing and public relations. All the plant geeks who surround him are turning him into a passionate gardener!



If any of your questions cannot be answered here, don’t hesitate to contact Proven Winners via the contact form below.

You may also contact us at:

Phone: 815-899-1973


When and Where will the LIFE + STYLE Event be held?

Friday venue:

September 11
Private Cocktail Party
Historic Botherum
Lexington, KY

Saturday venue:

September 12
Historic Site of Old Taylor Distillery

4335 McCracken Pike, Frankfort, KY

Lexington, Kentucky 40510

What is the cost of the LIFE + STYLE Events?

Day Event: $125.00 per person

Table of Eight: $900.00 (10% savings)


How do I register for the LIFE + STYLE Events?

You can register online at Proven Winners or by calling 815-899-1973.

Will I receive a ticket for the LIFE + STYLE Event?

No, tickets are not mailed. You will receive an email confirmation once you have completed registration.

A name tag will be waiting for you when you provide your name at the door!

What if I register and for some reason can’t come?

Your registration is transferable.

To transfer your seat to another guest, please call the Proven Winners office at 815-899-1973 and we will be happy to change the name on the registration.


More information on Old Taylor Distillery Restoration

Recommended Hotel Accommodations

Double Tree Suites
2601 Richmond Road
Lexington, KY 40508

Hyatt Regency
401 W High Street
Lexington, KY 40507

369 West Vine Street
Lexington, KY 40507

Campbell House
1375 S Broadway
Lexington, KY 40504

Gratz Park Inn
120 West Second Street
Lexington, KY 40507

What is the dress attire?

Smart casual.
Comfortable shoes are recommended.

Are there options for my dietary requirements?

A vegetarian meal option is available. You can make that choice when you register at Proven Winners.

Will there be special accommodations for those with physical limitations?

The Old Taylor Distillery venue has rougher terrain on the botanic trail and at the sunken garden. These two areas are not handicapped accessible.

All parts of the presentation itself are accessible.


Looking For More to do in Lexington?


Historic Botherum directions.

Old Taylor Distillery


Address: 4335 McCracken Pike, Frankfort, Kentucky

For More Information: Roadside America