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The Winery at Belle Meade Plantation

by
Kathy Sullivan

The Winery at Belle Meade PlantationSummary: The Winery at Belle Meade Plantation is a non-profit winery. All profits go to Belle Meade Plantation for education and preservation. Enjoy a visit to the plantation and after the tour stop in the tasting room to taste wines produced from Tennessee grapes.

The winery is located on the site of the Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville, Tennessee. The tour of the historic Belle Meade mansion, will end at the winery tasting room. According to Sheree Kelley, “we are different because people come to see the plantation and then discover the winery.” As a Tennessee non-profit organization, the profits from the winery are used for preservation and education at Belle Meade Plantation.

History

According to historical research, there is evidence that Muscadine grapes were grown on the plantation in the 1800’s. The Hardings (the family that owned the plantation during the 19th century) also produced wine from the vineyards on their property.

Vineyards

The vineyards for Belle Meade Winery are located in Hampshire, Tennessee about 45 miles from the winery. Vineyards occupy 17 acres including Vidal Blanc and other grape varieties.

The Winery at Belle Meade PlantationWinery and Tasting Room

The winery opened to visitors touring the Mansion in November 2009. Current production is 2,500 cases. The winery building was built in 1998 as an onsite education building. By 2009, the directors of the historic plantation renovated the building for use as the winery and tasting room. Brian Hamm is the winemaker.

The tasting room counter is of medium dark wood with a stone base. A fireplace adds to the ambience of the room. Windows allow visitors to see into the tank room. The room also has a dessert counter with Peanut Butter Pecan, Meltaways and more. A wine garden is available for visitors who want to purchase a bottle of wine and enjoy it on the premises. At the time of a May visit, large magnolia flowers were in blossom adding a bright contrast to the dark green leaves. Not far from the mansion, the old dairy on the property is used as bonded storage. This stone building helps keep the wine in an ideal environment.

The Winery at Belle Meade Plantation     The Winery at Belle Meade Plantation

The Winery at Belle Meade PlantationWhite Wine

Carriage House White produced with Vidal Blanc grapes was a light straw color. The aroma offered citrus notes while the taste had tropical nuances. The finish was crisp and fruity.

Blush

Bramble Blush an orange/pink color was a proprietary blend. There were some foxy and citrus notes. There was a hint of Concord grapes. The finish was crisp.

Red Wines

Red Muscadine, a blend of Muscadine grapes including Noble, had a label displaying the race horse Bonnie Scotland. The wine was a bright red. The wine offered grapey notes with a foxy aftertaste. The wine was crisp and dried on the finish. Racing Silk was a red wine produced with Concord grapes. The result was a wine with a Welch’s grape juice taste. The wine was sweet but offered a crisp finish. The name, Racing Silk, was in celebration of Belle Mead’s heritage “of owning the oldest continually run Racing Silks in America.”

Fruit Wine

Blackberry wine was bright red and produced with blackberry fruit. The aroma and taste were of blackberries. The crisp finish cut the sweetness. Suggestions for pairing Blackberry wine included cheeses, pork and steak. Another use is as a reduction sauce. The blackberry wine pairs well with chocolates and can serve as a dessert by itself.

The Winery at Belle Meade PlantationThe Belle Mead Plantation

The tour of the Belle Meade Plantation begins at the front doors of the Mansion. The Mansion is shown as it may have appeared in the 1890’s. Upon entering the Mansion visitors will discover a dark, subdued foyer. The walls of the foyer are decorated with framed pictures of racing horses. Belle Meade was well known for the racehorses it raised and bred. Most famous was Bonnie Scotland. The last eight Kentucky Derby races had contenders that have all been descendants of Bonnie Scotland. When visitors reach the winery tasting room, they will discover a Bonnie Scotland wine. The tour of the Mansion continues with visiting the dining room and parlor on the first floor and bedrooms on the second floor.

At one point the property included more than 5,000 acres of land. Today the Mansion and other buildings are on 29.8 acres.

The Belle Meade Plantation education segment offers Summer Camps for children. During the school year, the owners also underwrite many school trips to the plantation, enabling children to experience and learn about the history of the 1800’s.

Learn about Belle Meade Plantation with a visit to this historic plantation. When the tour ends at the winery tasting room, taste wines and browse the wine related gift items. Stay awhile and enjoy a bottle of wine in the wine garden.

The Winery at Belle Meade Plantation
5025 Harding Pike
Nashville, Tennessee 37205

N36º 06.303’ W86º 51.958’

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