Wonderful wines come from the ground, says Chase Vienneau, who knows whereof he speaks. As Arrington Vineyards’ winemaker, he deals not only with the making and bottling of great wines, but also with the soil, sunlight, weather, vines and growing techniques that are the ingredients of quality.
“It all starts in the fields,” says Vienneau, who oversees what goes into the 20,000 cases of wine Arrington Vineyards sells at its tasting room and ships across the country. “We can’t make good wines without good grapes.”
Owned by country music star Kix Brooks, winemaker Kip Summers and entrepreneur John Russell, Arrington opened its doors in 2007. Since then it has grown to produce 16 wines, from dynamic reds to crisp whites and popular roses. Arrington grows 16-plus acres of various wine grapes, but also purchases grapes from other carefully selected growers in Tennessee and around the country.
“There’s no way we could grow all the grapes we need for 20,000 cases a year,” Vienneau says. “But more and more of our wines contain substantial percentages of Tennessee-grown grapes.”
A Taste of California in Williamson
If the notion of a Southern vineyard conjures up memories of Grandma’s oh-so-sweet Scuppernong wine, Arrington may surprise you.
“We are going for a West Coast style of wine that you don’t find too often in the South, where wines tend to be fruit- and berry-based,” shift manager Katie Starnes says. “We’re not what you might expect to find in Tennessee.”
Arrington’s outstanding wines have won rave reviews in prestigious competitions, and attracted the attention of other wine producers, who may come to visit from Napa or Santa Barbara with some skepticism, but go home impressed.
The tasting room is housed in a refurbished stone and timber farmhouse, with more than a bit of California about it. The sprawling, wooded grounds are dotted with picnic tables and porch swings, each with a panoramic view of the vineyards and rolling countryside. Visitors can enjoy complementary tastings, buy wine to take home or drink on the premises, pick up a snack or wine paraphernalia, or become one of the 4,000 members of Kix’s Wine Club.
Celebrations and Events in the Vines
Picnics are popular family outings, but many couples come for romantic dates. although Arrington Vineyards does not host weddings (neighboring Lilac Farms, owned by the Vineyards’ owners, does) it is a perfect venue for rehearsal dinners, family reunions, birthday and anniversary parties, and receptions.
August through early October, visitors can see – “and smell,” Starnes quips – the picking and crushing of grapes, and can even pitch in on the harvest.
“It’s a destination for people,” Vienneau says. “You can make a day of it – come have a tasting, have dinner, listen to a little music. It’s a fun day.”
Music, understandably, is an important part of Arrington Vineyards’ charm. Music in the Vines, which features a variety of performers and musical styles, runs weekends from April through November. An annual Spring Break party ushers in warmer weather with a Calypso band. And the Harvest Party, the Vineyards’ biggest event, draws hundreds of people to see Brooks and others play, taste the wines and raise money for Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.