Chestnut Hill Winery
At Chestnut Hill Winery, exit 322 on Interstate 40 and just off Peavine Rd., business is booming as guests stop at the "Place to Taste."
The winery currently produces 10 wines, including the popular Hillbilly Shine wine.
"Our winemaker thought we needed something new," explained Darrin Stryker. He and his wife, Trudi, own the winery with his father, Harold.
Hillbilly Shine Wine is a blend of several different wines with a natural watermelon flavor. The label features an outhouse and a still.
"It's a fun wine," Darrin said. "So many of our visitors want to take something home with them from Tennessee."
Other wine varieties are Special Reserve Red Onyx, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Mandolin Blanc, Dulcimer White, Sweet White Muscadine, Sweet Red Muscadine, Volunteer Peach and Blackberry.
Special Reserve Red Onyx is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petite Verdot red wines, and it is bursting with fruitiness with a delicate oak after tone. It pairs well with pasta and red sauce, red meats and more.
The full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon is a treat when paired with pork, lamb or beef. Merlot is aged in French oak, which provides smoothness and its distinctive taste.
Mandolin Blanc is a clean, crisp, dry white wine that is similar to Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigo. The Dulcimer White is a semi-dry white wine with a hint of sweetness.
Sweet White Muscadine is made from Southern Muscadine grapes and is a full-bodied dessert wine that pairs well with sliced apples and pears or poured over vanilla ice cream with fresh berries. Sweet Red also pairs well with fruits.
In the coming year, two more wines will be added, a sweet concord wine and a Riesling. Fiddler Red is expected in the spring. It's the latest in a musical line of wines.
"We have plans for several other wines to take on musical names," Darrin said. "We want people to associate those names with us."
Chestnut Hill Winery is a producer, distributor and retailer.
"Everything is done right there at the winery," Darrin said.
Harold added the winery doesn't distribute to liquor stores, restaurants or other retailers.
"We don't rely on wholesalers," Harold explained. "The only place to buy Chestnut Hill Winery wine is at the winery."
The past year has seen a tremendous growth in business, Harold said.
"It's quality and customer service, no question about it," he said.
The winery looks far and wide to find the best quality grapes for its product. The Strykers were happy the state had removed rules regarding Tennessee-grown grapes, allowing wine producers to find the right grape for their product. While winemaking is an agricultural process, Chestnut Hill Winery has elected to stick to wine production and not growing grapes.
"Though there are some wineries that do have vineyards, we decided those were two separate entities and decided not to go that route," said Harold.
Winemaking at Chestnut Hill is overseen by Tom Reed, winemaker. Reed grew up in East Tennessee and has grown up with the wine business, the Strykers said. The winery has a fermenting capacity of 23,000 gallons.
The gift shop features wine-related products, from glasses and wine racks to kits for making wine at home. Those are popular as many families have recipes that have been passed down through generations. Of course, if they'd like to sample the recipes offered at Chestnut Hill, they are happy to oblige.
"People enjoy coming in because this is a happy place," Harold said. "They are greeted, talked to and treated well."
Darrin added, "We had a group of customers spend over an with us just visiting. If people are not in a hurry, they are welcome to stay and chat."
No charge tastings are offered of all Chestnut Hill wines. Guests can also call ahead to arrange for a tour of the winery and learn more about the wine-making process.
If you're looking for something unique to take home with your wine, the Hillbilly Shine wine glasses, which go hand-in-hand with the popular wine, are a customer favorite.
Grape seed oil is another grape product finding popularity with cooks. Harold explained the grape seed oil is a healthy oil for cooking, offers lots of antioxidants and is good for those watching their cholesterol. It also has no flavor, so the flavor of the food shines, not the oil.
Fresh, homemade fudge is also offered, as well as jams and jellies made by area Mennonites. Chestnut Hill Winery also offers local honey.
One unique item is a wine bottle holder made from the stump of a fir tree in China. Nature makes the bottle holder and no two are alike.
Also found in the gift shop are an assortment of unique, Tennessee-made products. There are locally made wine bottle lights, which offer a beautiful glow, and local artists produce beautiful painted wine bottles to add a special touch to any décor.
The shop offers the Sweetwater Valley Farms cheese line, and "Old Crow Walking Sticks," handmade in Crossville, are also available. The staff is happy to help assemble gift baskets for any occasion.
The family recently lost its gift shop manager and bookkeeper, family matriarch Nancy Stryker, who passed away in October. The family has been filling in where needed following her death.
The Chestnut Hill Winery location also boasts a meeting room perfect for small parties and receptions and the Brass Lantern Restaurant next door.
"It's one of the finest dining experiences in Cumberland County," Darrin said. "We invite everyone to come and check it out."
Chestnut Hill Winery is at 78 Chestnut Hill Rd., with the building facing Peavine Rd. next to the 322 on-ramp for Interstate 40. GPS coordinates are latitude 35.9608 and longitude -84.9829. Call 707-7878 or visit www.chestnuthillwinery.com to learn more. Chestnut Hill Winery is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. The winery is closed for all major holidays.
A Salute to Industry series is a project of the Crossville-Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce to feature local industries and businesses.