At Home, on the Job

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Natalie Voss

As the owner of Wines on Vine, Burk Kessinger is right at home in the restaurant, especially since he moved upstairs 

Burk Kessinger enjoys the proximity to downtown amenities his new apartment affords him. "It's a real joy to be downtown," he said. "I think we're doing a great job here in Lexington." PHOTOS BY SARAH JANE SANDERS

When Burk Kessinger comes home each day, his surroundings remind him of the two finest things in life: good horses and good wine.

The owner of Wines on Vine on Old Vine Street recently grew frustrated with his long commute from Midway to downtown Lexington, so he set out to make his home a little closer to his business. The result was an apartment directly above the shop.

“It’s just really fun to be able to walk to the Kentucky Theater, to walk to Common Grounds in the morning,” he said. “It’s a real joy to be downtown … I think we’re doing a great job here in Lexington. A lot of people have put a lot of years of work into getting it where we are now, and I think it’s all starting to pay off, and it’s fun to be down here and be part of it.”

Completed with help from building owner Zeff Maloney and interior decorator Mary Lou Yeary of Gallery Interiors, Kessinger’s new two bedroom, one and a half bath, space gives visitors both a sense of Kentucky’s history and the urban feel of a downtown loft. The walls feature exposed brick original to the building, while the new heating vents and plumbing running across the walls and ceiling were Kessinger’s choice (inspired by a building in New Orleans) to give the space a juxtaposed modern, urban feel. When choosing the material for the hardwood floor that runs throughout the apartment, however, he opted for a hat-tip to the Bluegrass, using split pine fence posts from a local horse farm. Two of the apartment’s heavy, carved interior doors were also locally salvaged antiques featuring pine on one side and mahogany on the other.

The open floor plan is ideal for entertaining guests during a wine tasting or dinner Kessinger says, and seems to help people relax, which is important to him. Adding to the atmosphere is his extensive art collection, which he has curated over several years during his travels domestically and abroad. So far his collection numbers 30 paintings in a variety of styles and dramatic colors from France to New York to Lexington. Kessinger says he only buys pieces he loves (rarely two from the same artist) and is drawn to water-focused subjects. The serenity and the colors of the water are particularly alluring to him, whether on a real-life beach or a canal scene in a painting.

One of his favorite pieces is called “The Jazz Man,” and features a tunnel of vibrant colors surrounding a tiny jazz musician. Kessinger picked it up in New Orleans due to its exuberance and hung it in the spare bedroom, which he keeps ready for visits from his grandchildren.

Also hanging in the grandchildren’s room are a few throwbacks to his days as a horse trainer. Kessinger’s horses were successful, to the tune of 243 wins from 1,815 races run by his trainees, earning a total of $9.4 million. A few of his career highlights include 11 stakes wins at Keeneland, a win in the Apple Blossom Stakes with Degenerate Gal, and eight-time stakes winner Weekend Madness.

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