Tennessee…wine country??? Three words you would never hear me say together, until now. Disclaimer: I am in no way a wine aficionado, but I like to think my palate has developed over the years (credit I give partially due to an old flame/classically trained chef).
But you guys, it exists! As wine club members, my husband and I had the opportunity to tour the Natchez Hills Winery and Vineyard in Hampshire, Tennessee with the owner himself. There’s a cluster of wineries in the area tucked away far from the highway noises and city lights. An aerospace engineer turned winery/Bed & Breakfast owner, Jim gave us an entertaining personal account of his wine production journey-from acquiring the land to tasting his newly bottled recipes paired with local, artisan cheeses and chocolates.
What really sets this wine apart from other Tennessee varieties (for me at least): it’s grown and processed with passion using Old World winemaking techniques incorporating a creative, artistic approach. Traditional AND handcrafted? SWOON! In other words, the flavors of the locally grown or California sourced fruit shine rather than the overly processed, added sugar other Tennessee wines are known for.
WE TALKED GRAPES-This vineyard features viniferous varietals; the vinifera is a common grape species in Europe and source of the Old World wines. The grapes were barely blooming on our April visit, but I can’t wait to go back later this year in August and help with harvesting!
There were gorgeous red and white rose bushes blooming at the end of each row of grapes to distinguish between which wines the grapes would be used for.
WE SWIRLED, SNIFFED AND SIPPED-In addition to traditional reds and whites, we tried several unique, flavorful combinations. A dessert wine featuring local honey, cloves and spices and a white wine fermented with tea leaves for a classic southern ‘sweet tea’ twang. I’m a red girl, but I have yet to meet a Natchez Hills wine I didn’t enjoy. AND-There is a peach-infused wine I’m waiting to taste as soon as it’s barrel ready!
Luckily for those of us that can’t make the hour drive south of Nashville, there is a Natchez Hills tasting room at the beautiful Fontanel property in Whites Creek. I happened upon this gem when we bought our home in the area last year. It’s worth the short drive from downtown Nashville. Trust.
If I wasn’t married already, I’d definitely be booking the vineyard in Hampshire for the big day. Bonus-it has a built in recording studio. If you have a couple of extra hours to spare, go pay the vineyard or the tasting room at Fontanel a visit!
Now-whose ready for my United States dream vacay? Yosemite to Napa Valley in 2017!