Drink Up the Good Life in Tennessee Wine Country
Perhaps no other harvest is anticipated as much as the grape harvest. Through the centuries, the fruit of the vine has represented the good life. In Tennessee, the good life means dry reds, dry whites to semisweet to Southern sweet wines.
Tennessee has more than 40 wineries and 150 vineyards, according to the Tennessee Farm Winegrowers Alliance. The state holds four wine trails, with two in East Tennessee, one straddling between East and Middle, and the fourth just west of Nashville. As a whole the wineries of Tennessee produce fine wines that gain national attention.
The Upper Cumberland Wine Trail contains six wineries, each with distinctions of its own. The vineyards take advantage of the high altitude of Cumberland Plateau with its varied microclimates. The grapes seem to like the varied weather and fertile soil.
The wineries are open for visitors to select and sample wines. Many have gift stops for wine table accessories and restaurants either on site or nearby.
Chestnut Hill Winery in Crossville is one of the state’s largest wineries. It has a wide selection of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Its sweet wines reflect the fruits of the region: muscadine, peach, and watermelon.
Also in Crossville, Stonehaus Winery has wines ranging from dry Cabernet Sauvignon to rich Merlot to the fruity muscadine. People can arrange for a guided tour and visit the gourmet food shop. The family-owned winery is open seven days a week.
Housed in an English Tudor-style building, the Highland Manor Winery evokes the tradition of Old World wine making. Free cellar tours highlight the traditions of handcrafted wines. This winery near Jamestown is the state’s oldest licensed. A gift shop enables visitors to purchase drinking and dining accessories. Guests make themselves comfortable at picnic tables on the property.
Fourteen cultivars flourish on the sloping vineyards of Holly Ridge. They encircle the winery, which hosts a late summer grape stomping festival annually. The family-owned winery near Livingston produces more than 30 wines ranging from dry dinner wines to sweet dessert wines.
Surrounded by 52 acres and housed by a Tuscan-style building, DelMonaco Winery exudes the hospitality of wine harvests. Guests to wine tastings use the back patio and picnic area in the vineyards to sip wines and taste cheese of the region. Chardonnay, Rhine Riesling, Cabernet Saugivnon and fruit wines are specialties.
An enterprise that began with five acres of grapes planted in 1994 is now Red Barn Winery and Vineyards. The old tobacco barn at the 100-acre farm is now better known for Southern sweet wines, dry reds and dry whites. The winery is located near Lafayette.
As you sample these liquid treasures of the Upper Cumberland, treat yourself to the local fare. The Bull & Thistle Pub in Gainsboro features Irish favorites, while Bacara’s Restaurant in Jamestown has German-inspired cuisine. Seasons Restaurant in Livingston specializes in Southern cooking, just as if you are seated at the table at Grandma’s house.
Got a favorite Tennessee winery? Let me know in the comments!