Like a fine wine, time should be savored, lingered over and experienced deeply. That's why a tour through East Tennessee wine country is well spent.
Award-winning wines, free parking, free tours, free tasting, located in the heart of Gatlinburg, Smoky Mountain Winery (Winery Square, Suite 2, 450 Cherry Street, Gatlinburg, TN 377838 Ph: 865-436-7551/1-888-765-9463 www.smokymountainwinery.com) offers a "grape" taste.
Since opening its doors in 1981, they have produced wines which have received hundreds of regional, national and international awards. Dedication to making great wine and customer satisfaction has been, and continues to be, the driving force behind efforts at the Smoky Mountain Winery. Visit the production area for a free tour. A knowledgeable and courteous staff will answer your questions on the aspects of wine making. Then enjoy a free taste of over 20 award winning wines available in our tasting room.
Viewing windows of winery operation and a great gift shop right in the middle of Sevierville an Pigeon Forge. The award winning Apple Barn Winery (230 Apple Valley Road, Sevierville, TN 37862 Ph: 865-428-6850 www.applebarncidermill.com/come_visit_Smoky_winery.cfm) has established itself as a leading fruit winery. Using apple cider as a beginning point for many of their sweet, fruit wines, such as Apple-Raspberry, Apple-Peach, and Apple-Strawberry have made them one the largest wineries in the state. Southern favorites like Muscadine wine are also available along with many others.
Tennessee's largest family-owned winery, Mountain Valley Winery (2174 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863 Ph: 865-453-6334 www.mountainvalleywinery.com) has national award-winning wines, an annual May Wine Festival and a free tasting bar right in the heart of Pigeon Forge. Mountain Valley Winery is open to the public without charge. A tour of the facility gives you insight into the skill and dedication from the moment the grape is picked until the bottle is corked. The tasting bar allows you ample time to sample the varieties and make your choices to take home.
A beautiful creek runs beside the barn-like building at Clinch Mountain Winery, Inc. (Route 2 Box 143 AA, Bullen Valley Road, Thorn Hill, TN 37881 Ph: 865-767-3600 www.clinchmountainwinery.com ), located at the foot of Clinch Mountain and just 200 yards from a public boat launch to the Clinch River. See a wonderful display of antiques, visit the tasting bar and gift shop. Just far enough off the beaten path to keep your drive interesting, Clinch Mountain Winery blends whimsical serendipity with the warmth and charm of an old time country store. Founded in 1998, the small, family-owned winery produces over 23 wines, each with its own distinct characteristics and colorful names, like the playful and lighthearted Hound Dog Red. Clinch Mountain Winery uses only Tennessee grown grapes. Six varieties of grapes are grown at the family's Forge Ridge vineyard near Harrogate, Tennessee. Every bottle is corked by hand and labeled with pride. The winery also stocks a large variety of Tennessee made foods, local crafts, and unique gifts.
Enjoy 51 acres with hiking trails, picnic tables and a pavilion overlooking the Tennessee River at Loudon Valley Vineyards and Winery (555 Huffs Ferry Rd, Loudon, TN 37774 Ph: 865-986-8736 www.tennesseewines.com/loudon_valley.htm). This is a tiny winery, which uses locally grown grapes and fruit, has won a host of awards and is family-owned, open daily, offers tours and free tastings. Not only will you find some great wines inside; especially in the winter, you get a spectacular view of the Tennessee River in the valley far below.
With over 800 awards under their belt, the Tennessee Valley Winery (15606 Hotchkiss Valley Road East, Loudon, TN 37774 Ph: 865-986-5147/1-888-TVW-WINE www.tnvalleywine.com) strives to bring you the very best in Tennessee wines. Offering a selection of around 25 different wines ranging from Cynthiana and Cabernet Sauvignon to Muscadine and a selection of fruit wines - even a wonderful Honey Mead, Tennessee Valley Winery is family-owned, uses local grapes and has free tastings.
Free tours include explanation of harvest, crush, fermentation, bottling and labeling at Orr Mountain Winery (355 Pumpkin Hollow Road, Madisonville, TN 37354 Ph: 423-442-5340 www.tnvacation.com/vendors/orr_mountain_winery). The winery is all one level and is wheelchair accessible. A shady picnic area provides a splendid view of the mountains and it's located one mile from the Lost Sea.
For something a little different, be sure to stop by Shady Grove Meadery (709 Norris Freeway, Lake City, TN 37769 PH: 865-426-4900 www.shadygrovemead.com), open weekends. What is Mead? Tis the ancient drink of kings, queens, prophets, poets and lovers, Mead (honey-wine) is thought to be the oldest alcoholic beverage known to man. Called Ambrosia by the ancient Greeks, it was believed to be the drink of the gods. Considered by the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Norseman, Assyrians, Incas and Aztecs to have sacred and magical properties. It was also believed to prolong life and bestow health, strength, virility, wit and poetry.
And what goes better with wine than cheese?
Sweetwater Valley Farm (17988 West Lee Highway, Philadelphia, TN 37846 Ph: 865-458-9192/1-877-862-4332 www.sweetwatervalley.com) combines the tradition of family farming with the art of fine cheese making. One of the few farms in the country producing fine farmstead cheese, Sweetwater Valley Farm controls the process from cow to consumer in order to create high quality cheddar cheese. There is nothing artificial in the cheese, just high quality milk and an old fashioned approach to cheese making. Proper aging time is allowed to ensure a great flavor for all of the cheeses. You may also want to go on one of our farm tours. On days that the weather permits, you may take a walking tour to see the dairy and hear about the process from cows to cheese.
For more information about Tennessee Farm Winegrowers, visit www.tennesseewines.com.