I don’t review wines or wineries. I leave that to the pros. But this winery is one that I feel that I must tell you about. We are very passionate about wines, sharing them and new places with you and this is one winery that should be on your “to do” list. This will also be a lesson in speaking Greek.
This summer, Carol and David, friends from Oregon, came for a visit. So, with them and another couple, Lynn and Ron, we visitedseveral of the wineries in the area. Since we are mostly dry red drinkers, nothing locally was really catching our fancy.
My wife made some phone calls to wineries a little further away. We were told of a brand new winery, Silver Springs Vineyard, that just opened in May. It is south on I-75 in Riceville, TN, some 90 minutes away and on Eastern Time. It sounded very promising. We had nothing better to do on a Sunday afternoon, so off we went. It is easy to find, about a mile off of I-75 on SR 39 and 11. You run right into it. You can’t miss it. The entrance is lined with American and Greek flags.
Given the opportunity to build a winery from the ground up, owner and winemaker GeorgeGialelis, his wife (gynaika) Michele and his team were committed to constructing a state-of-the-art winery that would pay tribute to the land. Michele designed and decorated the tasting room, orders all the supplies George needs and all the merchandise sold in the tasting room and helps in the café when needed. If that is not enough, she is a full-time nurse practitioner by day.
So, with 195 tons of polished Crab Orchard stone from Crossville, they built a big beautiful building. A lighted waterfall and reflecting pool with a curved staircase welcomes you to the tasting room.Off to the side is a covered patio made from reclaimed barn wood where they host weddings, dances, concerts and more. A kitchen is attached so they can serve café food al fresco. We had the ribs and brisket. They were melt in your mouth tender.
There are grapes grown on site, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec, but they are much too young to do anything with now. So juice is shipped in from California, Washington and Oregon. Then, George does his magic, turning the juice into krasi (wine).
Growing up in Sparta Greece to Yeorgios and Pitsa Gialelis and his sister (adelfi) Pitsa, he developed his love for wine at a young age, making wine with his pateras (father) and pappous (grandfather) in the family ampéli (vineyards). He brought with him years of old world heritage, craft and decades old knowledge of the proud Gialelis family vineyards, along with fond memories of creating wines in old world Greece.
Like his grandfather, he uses mostly the Bordeaux grapes, but to please many palates, he makes Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, a Rosé, a Riesling, as well as a red blend. You can taste five wines for $5 and you get to keep the glass. The wines are outstanding. Just what we were looking for. I think the group bought a case each. This summer he fermented strawberries with Dutch-process cocoa powder. I’m not a fan of fruit flavored wine, but this was amazing. It’s like drinking chocolate covered strawberries. I asked him how he came up with that idea and he answered, “Eimai trelos (I’m crazy).’’
We bought a few more bottles.After our wine tasting, he took us down to the kelari (cellar) where we tasted right out of the barrel. Wow, what a treat!
I wanted a case right now, but in his Greek accent he says, “No, no, no, no. Still needs more kairos (time).”
As he walked us to our car, he said, “You come back. Visit me again adelfos (brother). Ferei tous filous (bring friends) next time. Drive safe. Kalinychta (good night).”
Don’t take my word for it, go and see for yourself. Taste and experience his latest vintages in the tasting room, tour the grounds, go to a special event or simply enjoy some lunch and a bottle in the picnic or patio area. Make a day of it.
We have been there twice this month and each time we were treated like part of the Gialelis ikogenia (family). The vineyard’s regular hours of operation are Tuesday-Sunday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. EST, but in the winter, I recommend calling ahead to make sure he’s open. Tell him I sent you. If it is open, call me. I’ll go with you.
Silver Springs Vineyard 3725 Highway 11 S, Riceville, TN. Call at (423) 730-0008.