You’ve heard of Tennessee whiskey, but if you’re looking for something sweet (or dry), you can find it in a tasting room nestled between the rolling hills of Tennessee’s wine country. Check out these four wine trails that touch family-owned vineyards on working farms and sprawling mountaintop estates for a taste of Tennessee flavor waiting to be uncorked. Please enjoy responsibly.
In West Tennessee, the fertile soil of the Mississippi Delta produces Napa-inspired vineyards and award-winning wines. In Jackson, family-owned Century Farm offers locally-made cheeses and charcuteries to complement your wine tastings. Bring the entire family for a vineyard picnic affair. Make sure to stop nearby for a tour of The Carnegie Featuring the Tennessee Legends of Music Museum.
Nestled in Humboldt, Crown Winery is a solar-powered, Tuscan-style villa with 50 acres of vineyards, ponds and trees. You can enjoy a bottle of dry Sangiovese or a sweeter Strawberry Strut among the lush landscapes and feel like you’ve been transported to southern Italy. Recently, their winemaker Barry has turned his attention to malt and hops and the winery now includes a brewery featuring rotating taps.
Although its name might remind you of France, Paris Winery boasts Venetian-style architecture and 26 varieties of wine. Tours and tastings happen daily and the property also features Ruggero’s Italian Bistro, open Fridays and Saturdays, if you feel like taking your Italy-in-Tennessee experience a step further.
Following along the Natchez Trace Parkway just outside of Nashville, the Natchez Trace Wine Trail includes five wineries showcasing the hospitality and charm of Middle Tennessee.
One of the best-kept secrets of this wine trail is Amber Falls Winery & Cellars. The scenic country drive is a treat on its own, but the real rewards here are the unique wines. Be sure to try Cajunfest, a sweet red blend infused with Cajun spices — a party for your palate. When you’re ready to get back on the trail, Keg Springs Winery is a casual, family-owned spot with a knowledgeable and friendly staff. Their frozen wine is the perfect way to cool down on a hot Tennessee day.
If you enjoy sweet wines, be sure to visit Grinder’s Switch Winery, a seven-acre vineyard on a locally-owned family estate. A peaceful retreat in the woods, the hand-built log cabin tasting room originally served as the owners’ home, and once inside you’ll feel just like family. Finally, stop by Natchez Hills Winery where old-world elegance meets Southern charm. Pop open a bottle on their patio and soak up some fresh country air.
Discover roaring waterfalls and follow rivers through sprawling forests. Famous for its natural beauty, the Upper Cumberland area is the perfect place to relax with a glass while you take in the sights. The area has been home to winemakers for more than 100 years, and today there are eight family-owned wineries along the Upper Cumberland Wine Trail.
If you’re coming from the west, you’ll find Cellar 53 Winery, a family-farm-turned-boutique vineyard offering small-batch, handcrafted wines. Just north is Red Barn Winery & Vineyards, where you can pair sweet sips and scenic views. While you’re in the area, don’t miss Cordell Hull Lake. Stay the night in a cabin on the water before getting back on the open road. Further east along the trail you’ll find jaw-dropping pastoral views at DelMonaco Winery & Vineyards, where you can take a day trip from Nashville on a restored passenger train during Train Days, which stops at the winery and are held once a month through Nov. 10. Of course, no trip to the Upper Cumberland trail would be complete without a visit to Highland Manor Winery, the oldest licensed winery in Tennessee with roots dating back to Prohibition. Try its popular muscadine, a fruity wine voted “Best Sweet Wine” by Southern Living Magazine several years in a row. If you’re still thirsty, other wineries on this trail include Chestnut Hill Winery, Holly Ridge Winery, Northfield Vineyards and Stonehaus Winery. Pick up a Wine Trail Rack Card at your first stop and visit all eight to receive a special gift.
Once you’ve completed the Upper Cumberland Wine Trail, you won’t have to go far for another taste of Tennessee wine. Though not technically on the trail, Arrington Vineyards is a close neighbor and worth the visit. Co-owned by country music artist Kix Brooks, this winery offers spectacular mountainside views that make it a great stop for a peaceful afternoon picnic.
Dense blue fog clings to lush tree tops. Boundless verdant hills stretch for miles. Behold the land of the Great Smoky Mountains, among the oldest mountains in the world. Tucked between these majestic ridges, five wineries and one distillery form the Rocky Top Wine Trail. With free tastings at every stop and more than 70 unique wines offered, you’re sure to find a Tennessee wine to please your palate. Plan to take your time and break up the trail over a few days. This way you’ll get to try more wines and have more time to appreciate the Smokies. Win, win.
Taste the sweet fruit and muscadine wines at Mountain Valley Winery or the unique apple wines at Apple Barn Winery. Grab some lunch or a snack at the nearby restaurants and shops, including the famous Apple Barn Cider Mill & General Store. If you’re looking for something with sparkle, try the bubbly at Hillside Winery. Stay on the trail toward Sugarland Cellars where the knowledgeable staff will be happy to talk you through their wine tasting process or share some of the forgotten stories of the Smokies. Then top off your trip with a visit to Mill Bridge Winery, where you can savor a chilled wine or cider on the patio overlooking the river. Bonus points if you make it to Doc Collier Moonshine Distillery for a taste of their locally-made moonshine.
Not far from the Great Smoky Mountains’ territory is the Great Valley Wine Trail, formed by three wineries. Travel country roads between each stop, and you’ll discover why the locals love East Tennessee.
A short drive from Knoxville is The Winery at Seven Springs Farm. Located on the historic “Thunder Road,” which was once used by moonshiners, Seven Springs is steeped in historic charm and a homey atmosphere. Further down the road is Spout Springs Estates, well known for its stunning views and wines made only from Tennessee grapes. On the tail end of the Great Valley Trail, Goodwater Vineyards is a family-owned spot specializing in dry wines. Call ahead to sign up for their catered picnics held Tuesdays through Sundays until the end of summer.
Many of these trails can be enjoyed over a few days, so no matter which one you choose, take your time and savor all the beauty between sips. And remember, there’s a lot to explore on Tennessee’s country roads, so be sure to have a designated driver with you on your journey.