Behind-the-Scenes Tour: The Rocky Top Wine Trail

Pouring wine into glasses

The Rocky Top Wine Trail is a self-guided ‘tour’ of 5 wineries in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville. Each location offers free wine tastings, so you’ll have the chance to sample over 50 different local wines. At your first stop, just grab your Wine Trail Passport, get it stamped and you’ll be given a souvenir wine glass. Then, once you complete the trail and have stamps from all 5 locations, you’ll receive another souvenir!

The Rocky Top Wine Trail is a great experience for anyone looking to sample local wines while exploring the area. You don’t have to complete the wine trail in one day, so you can stop at the locations as you’re out and about on your vacation.

We took an inside look at the Rocky Top Wine Trail and each of the Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg wineries. Watch to see a behind the scenes look at the Rocky Top Wine Trail experience:

Meredith: Hi, I’m Meredith with Visit My Smokies, and today, we’re taking an insider’s look at the Rocky Top Wine Trail. This is a free tour that allows guests to sample wines from five of the most popular wineries in the Great Smoky Mountains.

JB: Hey Meredith. Welcome to Mountain Valley Winery.

Meredith: Hi! Thanks so much for having us here today.

JB: Glad you’re here. My name is JB. I’m Vice President of Operations for the Wine Trail and I’m excited you’re here with us.

Meredith: Yes, we’d love to know a little bit more about the free tour.

JB: Fantastic. Well, you’re starting off today at Mountain Valley Winery. It’s one of five wineries on the Rocky Top Wine Trail. You can stop at Mountain Valley, Hillside Winery, Apple Barn Winery and Sugarland Cellars, or Eagle Springs to start off the trail.

Free tasting at every location and the only thing it costs to actually complete the trail is you’ve got to pick up a free passport. At your first stop here at Mountain Valley, you have this one. They’ll stamp it for you at each location. After three stamps, you get a wine glass, and after five, you get another free gift to take home.

Meredith: Wow. Well I’m anxious to get my first stamp.Wine bottles lined up for sale

JB: Cool. Well, we’ll get you started out. Let’s go!

Meredith: Okay!

JB: Meredith, let me introduce you to Jennifer Chain. She’s going to be showing you around today at Mountain Valley and also take you through tasting.

Meredith: Hi Jennifer. Thank you so much for having us here today.

Jennifer: Thanks for coming in!

Meredith: Okay, so tell us a little bit about the room we’re in now.

Jennifer: This is our barrel room where we mature the wines. Today, Doug is going to be showing you about blending some of our wines. He has a Cabernet here ready for you guys to watch him process it.

Doug: Well, what I’m working on here is some barrels of Tempranillo. These grapes for this wine were growing at Reedy Creek Vineyard which is in Sullivan County or Kingsport.

Meredith: How do I get your job?

Doug: A lot of people are looking for it.

Wine bottles after just being bottled on the lineMeredith: So this must be the bottling room.

Jennifer: You’re correct! This is where we make everything. When we get ready to bottle, we clean the bottle, fill them, put a shot of CO2 in the bottle and then cork them and get them ready to be stored away for selling later.

JB: So, Meredith, we’ve made it up here to Sugarland Cellars in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. This location is really unique in that everything about the winery talks about the local history of Gatlinburg. To tell you a little bit about that, I want to introduce you to Will. He’s going to be showing you around.

Meredith: Hi, Will. I’m Meredith.

Will: I’m Will. How are you doing?

Meredith: Nice to meet you.

Will: Fantastic. I’d love to show you around our winery. We’re rich in Gatlinburg’s history. Tell you about a few things that go on here.

Meredith: Absolutely. Come on.

Will: This way. You know, Gatlinburg was originally settled in about 1802 by the William Ogle family. They were pretty self-sufficient people so they had to use the local fruits and different plants to make their own wine. That’s what we carry on and we carry on the tradition right here in Sugarland Cellars. Each of our bottles tells a little story about Gatlinburg and about the history.

One of our premiere wines here is our 1802. On the back, we talked a little bit about the establishment of the William Ogle cabin and the Ogle family here in Gatlinburg.

Meredith: Okay, well, I’m anxious to try it.

Will: Fantastic!

Meredith: That’s really nice. I really like that.

JB: Meredith, we’re here at the Apple Barn Winery, your third stop on the wine trail. We focus on apple-based wines. The other locationsPouring red wine into a wine glass you’ve been to use local grapes from local vineyards but here, most of the apples are actually grown on an orchard just out behind here. One of the nice things about visiting the Apple Barn Winery on the Rocky Top Wine Trail is that it’s not on its own. It’s actually combined with a creamery, a candy shop, a Christmas store, a couple of restaurants, and a cider mill, too, where they even process and make homemade apple cider.

Speaker: This is our apple. It’s made with a hundred percent apple. Nothing else in there. It’s really cool how they make it, too. They bring in apple cider, they filter it over and over again, and then they make the wine out of it, and age it in American Oak barrels.

Meredith: I can taste the apple. Definitely, it comes through.

Speaker: Not everybody picks up on the apple.

Meredith: So now that I got stamped, I’m ready for my wine glass.

Speaker: There’s your wine glass! Rocky Top Wine Trail.

Meredith: Thank you so much! I really appreciate you having us out here today and we’re off to the next one!

Speaker: Come back and see us!

Speaker 2: Here at Hillside, we focus on Italian style and sparkling wines, so we have the only champagne tanks in the company. Last year we got about 80% of our fruit from Tennessee farmers, mostly from within about a hundred miles. We pressed almost 1.4 million pounds of grapes last year. Only one stop left!

Meredith: That’s right. Eagle Springs?

Speaker 2: Eagle Springs is the only one left.

Meredith: Here I come!

JB: You made it! This is the fifth stop on the wine trail. I hope you’ve been enjoying it so far. We’ve got one more tasting for you to go through and let’s introduce you to Chasity and get you started with Eagle Springs.

Wine bottle next to corks on a tableChasity: This particular location is a honey-based winery. Today we’re going to do a little pairing with some different foods so we’ll see what changes up the wine.

What you need to do is just get a taste of the wine, so you know what it tastes like. Now you want to take your chocolate, chew that up and then wash it down with the rest of that wine and it will taste like a chocolate covered strawberry. Phenomenal.

Meredith: Wow. That is decadent. I think it’s been my favorite of all day.

Chasity: Oh good! Alright, so we’re going to stamp your passport and I’m going to give your final gift. This is a stemless glass, and we appreciate you coming in!

Meredith: Well thank you so much! JB, thank you so much. I had a wonderful day.

JB: Well good. I’m glad you did. Here’s a bottle from each location for you to take home with you.

Meredith: Thank you so much, JB.

JB: Come back and see us.

Meredith: If you haven’t done it yet, you have to check out the Rocky Top Wine Trail here in the Great Smoky Mountains. Until then, see you next time!

Did you enjoy learning about the Rocky Top Wine Trail and the Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg wineries with our video? CLICK HERE to take an inside look at other great attractions and places to visit during your vacation!

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