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Fire destroys Madison winery restaurant

RICHMOND — The building that housed the restaurant and gift shop at a Madison County winery burned down early Saturday.

Acres of Land, on Barnes Mill Road, still has its wine production and storage building.

"By the time we got down here, it was pretty much fallen in," Lowell Land, who owns the winery with his wife, Katherine, said of the burned building.

Land said he felt like things were going well for the business: Food quality was at its best, the gift shop had just been expanded, and in a local poll the restaurant had been voted the best place to take out-of-town guests.

"Everything was looking so good and then, all of a sudden, you get a call in the middle of the night," Land said.

The Madison County Fire Department and Kentucky State Police are investigating the cause of the fire.

Land and his wife closed the restaurant about 10 Friday night, he said. Fire crews were called about 1 a.m. Saturday, said Madison County Fire Capt. Rodney Dixon.

When firefighters arrived, they could see the fire through the windows, and it was coming through the roof, Dixon said.

Land and his wife opened the restaurant in September 2005, about a year after they opened the winery. The two, both retired accountants, built the winery on his family's tobacco farm. The restaurant and gift shop were in a converted tobacco barn. The couple saw the business as a way to save the family farm, Land said.

The winery produces 10 types of wine. The most popular is a Vignoles, a sweet white.

Land said he plans to rebuild "in some form." In the meantime, sales and tastings will move into the wine production building. There will continue to be vineyard tours and wagon rides and even weddings, though he might have to hire an outside caterer.

The entire operation employs 40 people. Land does not know how the fire will affect jobs.

Land said that he was glad no one was hurt in the fire but that he was saddened by the loss of the restaurant.

"We just have to go on with our lives and try to get it back again," he said. "But it's a huge disappointment."