Tennessee Valley

Discussions and questions (vintages, winemaking, etc) for those ITB. All are welcome to post.
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Gabe Berk
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Joined: October 24th, 2018, 9:51 am

Tennessee Valley

#1 Post by Gabe Berk » June 12th, 2019, 9:16 am

Anyone had any wine from Tennessee? I fly into Tennessee Valley near Knoxville quite a bit and see mountain/hillside quarry's with limestone. Hillside vineyards with limestone make me think new-new world Chard or other white varietals. Tennessee farms a lot of veggies, nuts and fruit. Just don't know if the temps out there would make for good fruit for wine.

Brian Gilp
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Joined: May 29th, 2010, 6:00 am

Re: Tennessee Valley

#2 Post by Brian Gilp » June 13th, 2019, 5:41 am

I haven't had any wine from Tennessee. I have a good friend whose daughter worked at one of the Tenn wineries for a couple of years when she went to Tenn Tech but I can't remember which one. Most of the wines had various levels of RS. The feedback I got from my friends was that they liked to visit to see their daughter and liked a few of the wines but I wouldn't appreciate any of them.

East Coast viticulture in general has a few issues, humidity, vigor, temperature, and late season rains. The temperature issues can be somewhat mitigated by site selection. Vigor can be somewhat addressed by spacing and trellising. Humidity and late season rains are tougher problems. The humidity issue forces most to pursue conventional sprays to combat rot and mildew and even going that route there are times when its not enough. late season rains can destroy a harvest such as 2011 which was a monumental bad year in VA but even in years where its not so bad, the late season rains drive suboptimal picking dates. The mildew and rot pressure are driving factors in deciding what to plant. Anything that is too thin skinned or tightly bunched won't work here. Zinfandel is the poster child of what not to plant. On the other side of the spectrum are things like Petit Manseng and Petit Verdot that do quite well for the conditions.

Chardonnay is early to mid season harvest. This helps avoid the late season rains. Its mildew resistance is average. It does break bud early so is at risk for spring frost damage. But overall it works fairly well in the mid-Atlantic and I have had a NC Chardonnay that was good. If someone planted it on a good site and took proper care of it, it may work ok.

James Lyon
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Re: Tennessee Valley

#3 Post by James Lyon » June 13th, 2019, 5:47 am

As a Tennessee native and UTK grad, I'll try to address your question. Yes, I have tasted a little bit of TN wine. A family friend started a winery in Northeast Tennessee 8-10 years ago. They had some red and white varietals growing at the "estate". I recall a white blend of Riesling and Viognier and perhaps a Viognier bottling as decent. The Riesling bottling tasted like Chardonnay. The red wines were forgettable and I can't recall the varietals. Spoiler alert, the "estate" vines didn't survive a harsh winter a few years ago. I don't know the whole story, but the winery is no longer in operation.

There are probably some small producers in the Knoxville area. Check google. None that I can recall from my UTK days, but that's 20+ years ago.

TN like most states, minus the notable exceptions, can't produce high quality wines at reasonable prices and the climate is just too unforgiving for grapes. The summer nights are too warm and the winters can be frigid in the mountains and foothills. Why buy a TN wine (or replace TN with most other states) for $30 when I can buy a world class wine from CA, WA, OR, NY, etc. for the same price?

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