Sip Tennessee Wines along The Rocky Top Wine Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains

Sip Tennessee Wines along The Rocky Top Wine Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains

The Rocky Top Wine Trail consists of four wineries serving up sweet and dry wines sourced with Tennessee grapes and served with shining hospitality.

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While in the Smoky Mountain region, fill up your car to visit the wineries along the Rocky Top Wine Trail. Along the way, you can taste sparkling wines, white and reds and blueberry wines with many of the grapes sources right here in Tennessee. Couple your trip with a few dining destinations and you’ll find this stretch of road will fill your vacation with plenty of memories for years to come. Read along to find what you can experience along the way.  

Hillside Winery
Stop 1 of 7

Hillside Winery

Hillside Winery

229 Collier Dr.

Sevierville, TN 37862

Just off the main drag and nestled at the foot of a hill where a Collier-owned resort complex resides, Hillside Winery is the perfect way to start your Smoky Mountain adventure. Its red roof and wrap-around porch are a sure giveaway that fun is about to commence. Once inside, you’ll notice a large retail space to sip and shop or for your designated driver to peruse while you head back to the tasting room to savor. Banked by a bird’s eye view of the wine making process, the tasting room offers limited free tastings seven days a week. Make sure to try the bubbly sweet Muscadine Spumante wine which is made with 100% Tennessee Muscadine and sports a beautiful Pipevine Swallowtail on its label. On top of it all, they buy nearly 80% of their fruit locally. “The passion we have for Tennessee and making Tennessee products is evident in our wines, says Katie Collier, wine operations manager. “We could buy cheaper fruit elsewhere, but we believe in Tennessee farmers and their hard work.”

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Apple Barn Winery
Stop 2 of 7

Apple Barn Winery

Apple Barn Winery

220 Apple Valley Rd.

Sevierville, TN 37862

Producing apple-based wines onsite since 1994, Apple Barn Winery is just across the road from the Little Pigeon River and is part of a whole apple mecca of sorts. On the hill behind the winery, there is a trellised orchard of four apple varieties – Jonathan, Macintosh, Granny Smith and Winesap. After crushing the apples and blending them with juice and yeast, the fermentation process begins. The dry apple wines are aged up to a year in American, Hungarian and French oak barrels, while the sweet ones are fermented in stainless tanks up to 60 days prior to bottling. Unlike grape-based wines, apple wines do not require lengthy periods of aging. “We’re in the South where all the sugar is. Go up north and experience the sugar-fraught,” says Assistant Manager Mack Ford with a wink. There are a plethora of goodies to choose from in the gift shop and the displayed bottles dripping with awards from which you can sample their latest incarnations. 

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Mountain Valley Vineyards
Stop 3 of 7

Mountain Valley Vineyards

Mountain Valley Vineyards

2174 Parkway

Pigeon Forge, TN 37863

Mountain Valley Vineyards opened in 1991 and is Tennessee’s largest winery. Just beyond the Titanic Museum headed toward Gatlinburg on the right, you can’t miss the flagstone rotunda from the road. Scoot on in to the tasting room to sample a host of French and German-style sweet wines where tour guide Angel Bradley says, “The more you go, the better this is going to be.” Try the Mountain Valley Red which has been their most popular wine since the winery’s inception and is made with 100% Tennessee concord grapes and other native varieties. They offer several gift baskets filled with wine and cheese for purchase or you can select your favorite combo to be enjoyed out back on their patio. Free tours of the production facility are available noon to 5 p.m. every day.

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Mill Bridge Winery
Stop 4 of 7

Mill Bridge Winery

Mill Bridge Winery

3331 S River Rd.

Pigeon Forge, TN 37863

The Little Pigeon River weaves her way through this area and can be seen in all of her glory as you cross the bridge into an area of Pigeon Forge called the Old Mill District established in 1830. While exploring this area, stop in at the inviting little yellow cottage known as Mill Bridge Winery. It opened in 2016 and soon added a line of ciders upon its debut. You may come for the wine, but you’ll stay for the ciders. Start your tasting off with a bit of the bubbly Sonata that’s perfect for mimosas or Indian Summer, a sparkling blueberry wine. Or, you may just want to go ahead and grab a flight of ciders to enjoy out on the intimate back deck overlooking the river. Either way, you can’t go wrong as this simple respite is a peaceful way to sip your way through the afternoon. 

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Sugarland Cellars
Stop 5 of 7

Sugarland Cellars

Sugarland Cellars

1133 Parkway

Gatlinburg, TN 37738

This full-scale winery is situated adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park entrance in a plaza of several lodge-style establishments. Upon entering Sugarland Cellars, lift your gaze to the chandelier completely made from sparkling wine glasses. Make your way further in and you’ll see the tasting room cozied up among wine barrels well within sight of the production facility. The wine portfolio here ranges from dry to sweet paying homage to the Smokies with names like Hellbender, Elkmont and Mountain Laurel. Most of the Sugarland Cellars staff are from the area which can come in handy, especially if you’re interested in learning about extra shortcuts to where the locals go. They’re also ready to share the stories of those gorgeous peaks calling your name.

 

Where to eat:

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Applewood Farmhouse
Stop 6 of 7

Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant

Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant

240 Apple Valley Rd.

Sevierville, TN 37862

While traveling the Rocky Top Wine Trail, you may want to stop for a bite to eat. There is Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant, conveniently down the road from Apple Barn Winery. Housed in an expanded 1870s farmhouse, the restaurant was started in 1986 and still retains its home-sweet-home charm to this day. It’s why so many folks have made frequent returns for more than 30 years in an attempt to relive fond childhood memories.

The restaurant is divided into several rooms much like the old house, but with two special tables outfitted with porch swings on the original porch. There’s always a wait for these, but folks don’t seem to mind. No matter where you sit, apple fritters are served with apple butter sourced from next door at the Apple Barn and Cider Mill along with non-alcoholic juleps as complimentary starters all day, every day. Don’t miss the Famous Fried Chicken or maybe Momma’s Country Meatloaf is more your jam. Regardless, save room for apple cobbler.
 

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Anakeesta's Cliff Top Bar and Grill
Stop 7 of 7

Anakeesta, there's magic in the mountains.

Cliff Top Grill and Bar at Anakeesta Outdoor Theme Park

576 Parkway

Gatlinburg, TN 37738

A great way to end your day is with dinner at Anakeesta. Escape the hustle and bustle of downtown Gatlinburg by hopping aboard the world’s only chondola which is half chair lift, half gondola. You’ll ride up the mountain for about 20 minutes before experiencing what can only be called nature’s ultimate theme park and a first-rate, open-air dining hall, Cliff Top Grill and Bar. Sip on a local beer paired with perhaps a burger sourced from farms in the area, all while soaking up those stunning panoramic views.    

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