Did you know right here in beautiful Northeast Tennessee there is an amazing winery and vineyard as beautiful as anything located in Tuscany? In fact, in 2016, Johnson County, Tenn. was included in the establishment of the Appalachian High Country Viticultural Area. This designation affords the region the distinct notoriety of a wine destination. It helps to inform wine connoisseurs that the grapes grown and wine produced in the Appalachian High Country tastes like no other region in the country. If you are looking to fill your day with a scenic mountain drive and some Appalachian Tennessee Agritourism, then consider taking the drive up Hwy. 421 to Mountain City, Tennessee’s very own member of the wine trail. A word of caution, however, about Hwy. 421: The scenic route is also known as “The Snake” by locals, motor enthusiasts and cyclists, it is not for the weak stomach.
If you can brave this curvy scenic mountain drive, make your way to the Watauga Lake Winery for an afternoon of great wine tasting and wood-fired pizza during their Sangria Saturday events. Located in the old Dry Run Elementary, the winery is a little over one mile from their beautiful vineyard, Villa Nove, where they grow about 75,000 pounds of grapes in ten different varietals.
Owners, Wayne and Linda Gay, planted the grapes for the winery about 12 years ago, and opened to the public in November of 2012. Since opening, their wine has won numerous awards including the coveted William O. Beach Award designating it the best wine in the state grown entirely from Tennessee grapes. In the 2017 Asheville International Wine Festival Competition they were awarded the Double Gold for their port wine, Duncan Hollow, as well as a Gold for their Barely Peach. They took a Silver for their Tart-N-Blue which is a spoof on Italian Limoncello which they craft from their blueberry wine and the zest of “hundreds and hundreds of lemons” according to Linda.
Once you have enjoyed some great wine and pizza, visit their Villa Nove Vineyard and soak up the beautiful Appalachian mountain range seen from the patio of this stunning wedding venue.
After exploring the vineyard, head back toward downtown Mountain City and take a nice evening stroll along the street of a truly small town community. Antique shops, unique storefronts, historic houses and beautiful murals are a perfect way to finish off a relaxing Saturday in the mountains.
If you’ve worked up another appetite after exploring the vineyard and downtown, ten miles down the road in nearby Doeville is the very unique Monsoons, a Thai and Exotic foods restaurant. Owner, Mel, and her family cook some truly amazing Taiwanese cuisine. An obvious fan of westerns, the decor is a unique mixture of John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and US License plates. Bring your patience because home cooking takes time, but it’s truly worth the wait.
If you aren’t hungry enough for a full dinner, then treat yourself to a fabulous dessert and cup of coffee at Suba’s Restaurant instead. You will not regret it, unless you think heading back home on “The Snake” with a full stomach is a bad idea.
Mountain City, Tennessee is a hidden gem offering a unique mix of small town atmosphere, award winning wines, and international cuisine. Fall is a great time to hit the road for the color splash of the Appalachian Mountains and experience this one of a kind community in Northeast Tennessee.
For more information on Mountain City, visit johnsoncountytnchamber.org
Written by: Amanda Bowers of VeraVise WOW Travel