Wine Country, California may be all the rage, but the Natchez Trace Wine Trail, off the famous Natchez Trace Parkway, is an experience of fresh air, beautiful views and unique wines. The four family-owned wineries that make up the trail are approximately an hour outside of Nashville. It’s a wine experience worth a day’s road trip. Follow along for a run-down of each stop, plus a spot for lunch, and then, plan your own Natchez Trace Wine Trail adventure. Please sip responsibly.
Stop 1 - Grinder’s Switch Winery
Begin at Grinder's Switch Winery in Centerville with rows of grapevines and natural scenic beauty.
Grinder Switch is owned by Joey and Gail Chessor, a small-town couple who turned their dream into a thriving family business. To date, it has been a leader amongst the trail, growing and producing award-winning wine for nearly a decade. The tasting room boasts such glory, situated inside a log cabin that looks straight out of a fairytale. The cabin, built by Joey on the family estate in the 1980s, once served as a home for the Chessor couple and their two kids who now help run the family business.
After tasting the many wines on the menu from sweet blush wine to Cabernet Sauvignon, you can grab a glass and stay awhile to enjoy the views. There’s an outdoor patio where you can spend some quiet time with your wine. For larger groups, Grinder’s Switch can provide an event space with plenty of room for friends and family.
In reference to starting the winery, Joey said, "You get one shot at life. You can either try stuff or sit on the couch. What do you have to lose?" The Chessor family took that shot by opening up an additional (and quite popular) tasting room in Nashville.
Stop 2 – Keg Springs Winery
Keg Springs Winery is just 20 miles up the road in Hampshire. The scenic route takes you past creeks and farms. At Keg Springs, you enter a tasting room that faces a valley of views. Each week, entertainment can be found on the patio with attendees dance to the tunes and sip wine. This particular stop on the trail has free wine tastings and a complimentary buffet of cheese, dips, and fruit. You might even get a bowl of some of the sweetest watermelon around.
The best part of Keg Springs is the wine slushy which comes in a variety of flavors from grape to watermelon to peach. It's a refreshing boost if you’re traveling the trail in a Tennessee summer.
This winery is owned by Brian and Becky Hamm (Brian even created a mobile bottling unit that is used by many wineries throughout the U.S.). With the help of family, they've created unforgettable wine flavors like cherry, blackberry and strawberry. Each of the bottles of cherry wine has a specially designed label by the youngest member of the family, Jaycee. She paints the design for the label and it gets printed on each bottle. For all of you wine connoisseurs who love to collect the bottles, you definitely want to hang on to this masterpiece.
Stop 3 – Amber Falls Winery
Amber Falls Winery in Hampshire greets you with the cutest cottage that is available for rent. If you're looking for a serene setting to spend the night under the stars, this one is for you. As you venture further towards the tasting room facilities, you can see a water house and rows of labeled vines to learn about the many types of grapes they have on-site. As you arrive at the tasting room, you can see barrels of wine line the walls, giving the tasting room a cozy feel. On Saturdays, live music and food trucks are hosted to celebrate the weekend.
Amber Falls is owned by Tim and Judy Zaunbrecher. They serve a variety of award-winning wines from merlot to Pinot Gris, cabernet sauvignon and more. One of the best wines they serve, Cajunfest, is comprised of a secret recipe that Tim won’t ever share! We can't blame him; it is that good. It has a smooth, yet spicy blend that serves you just right. Couple this wine with barbecue nachos from Bubba Gandy's food truck, and you have the full experience.
Stop 4 – Natchez Hills Vineyard
Your last stop is Natchez Hills Vineyard in Hampshire. This beautiful space is just a couple of miles down the road from Amber Falls. As you drive up to the tasting room (tastings are $6 per person), the vineyard makes you feel like you're on an exclusive adventure only seen in the movies.
The property has immaculately-kept gardens fit for a royal wedding. In fact, this winery serves as a wedding venue as well. If you're a bride or groom looking for an all-inclusive, exclusive, upscale location that encompasses serenity, Natchez Hills is your dream location; there's even a bridal cottage on site.
There is also a recording studio just upstairs of the event space if you're an artist looking for a creative location to think, write, sing and make music as long as you want.
Natchez Hills Vineyard offers an array of wines that the family matriarch, Karen Odom started by planting the vineyard years ago. To date, you can taste their award-winning wines like Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, sparkling wine and rosé, in three different locations: the one in Hampshire, The Fontanel Mansion, and the Nashville Farmer's Market. Their best-seller is a brewed tea wine called Naughty Tea, that captures the taste of a southern sweet tea.
A Stop for Lunch: Papa KayJoe's BBQ
If you're looking for some good eats to balance out the effects of all of the wine, follow the smells of delicious barbecue to Papa KayJoe's BBQ in Centerville. You can appease your ravenous cravings with a host of barbecue choices from smoked chicken thighs to pulled pork that melts in your mouth. Be sure to try the cornbread sandwich, praised by Garden & Gun Magazine.
Each location along the trail does have wine available for e-commerce purchases and many are available online. Be sure to take a designated driver along for the experience of a lifetime.
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