Revisiting Arrington Vineyards and their "Premier Experience" tasting great Tennessee wine

This post was co-authored (and co-tasted) by Wine:Thirty Flighters Kathleen Jennings and Meghan Barrett Welch on a recent visit to the winery.

After an initial visit to Arrington Vineyards, we (Andrew) reviewed it as a “veritable zoo of people”. On a subsequent trip to Nashville, we (Meghan and Kathleen) decided to revisit the winery for what turned out to be their excellent Premier Tasting experience.  We are very glad we did – it turned out to be a very enjoyable day, well spent with some of our most favorite people!

Arrington Vineyards is located about 35 minutes outside of downtown Nashville in Arrington, Tennessee. As you may recall, the winery is co-owned by Kix Brooks, of country music’s Brooks & Dunn fame, but the winery offers more than a famous owner to its visitors.

Upon first entering the property, visitors ascend an expansive drive approaching the farmhouse style tasting room. You’re immediately transported to Tennessee “wine country.” The vineyard encompasses more than 25 acres, most of which are open for visitors to explore and enjoy while sipping wine.  On a nice fall day you’ll see couples, friends and families sipping on wine, having picnics, and socializing in a beautiful setting.

New visitors to the winery might make the mistake of arriving mid-afternoon or sans reservation, causing long waits and frustrations. We recommend making reservations for the Arrington Vineyards Premier Experience. The Experience begins with a walking tour of the Barrel House and Wine Production Facility. We tasted a bottle of bubbles while in the Barrel House. After the walking tour, we enjoyed a private tasting in the Wine Loft.  The Wine Loft has a rustic Southern charm that makes you feel instantly at home. The tasting included five wines (selected by Master Vintner Kip Summers), each paired with a selection of gourmet cheeses, seasonal items, and chocolate.

Arrington has a dozen or so wines on their tasting list at any given time, so there is definitely something that will please everyone.  Between the four of us, we tried a lot of them, but here are three of our favorites.

2015 Riesling

This wine surprised us – in some ways it was more like a Sauvignon Blanc.  It had a fruity sweetness right at the beginning, with a distinct granny smith apple finish.  On the mid palette there were notes of lemongrass and tropical fruit.  While ordinarily I wouldn’t pair the words Sauvignon Blanc within 2 paragraphs of Thai Food, the lemongrass and sweetness on the front might complement each other well.  The premier experience pairing for the 2015 Riesling was apples dipped in a delicious bourbon caramel sauce.  

2013 Red Fox Red

Aromas of Earl Gray tea and tobacco lend themselves well to this Southern red.  Bright notes of cherry up front and a creamy berry finish laced with vanilla pipe smoke.  Blackberries and jam on the mid-palette.  This wine would go very well with one of my favorite snacks – pepper crusted Parmesan cheese thin sliced on a Whole Foods crostini with a sweet fig jam spread.  Why did I wait until Whole Foods was closed to write this blog post… (I digress).  Sure enough, the Premier Experience pairing was Black Pepper Bella Vitano topped with fresh fig spread. The pepper paired well with the tobacco, and the creaminess of the Bella Vitano and fig brought out the vanilla pipe smoke beautifully.

2013 Russell

Not surprisingly, this Bordeaux style blend intrigued me.  Named for owner John Russell, the 2013 is aged for just under 2 years in French oak barrels.  The predominantly merlot blend provides forward jamminess, but the oak from the barrels gives a slight leathery, cedar quality.  The same vanilla pipe smoke from the Red Fox Red can be found in the 2013 Russell.  I’d recommend at least a couple more years in the bottle before opening this, and decanting at that.  My recommended food pairing would be wood or spit fire grilled meats (the kind that melt off the bone), or very dark chocolate.  The Premier Experience pairing was an Espresso Cheese.  I wouldn’t have thought of that on my own, but the rich coffee espresso notes really brought out the cherry and cocoa flavors in the wine, notes that I didn’t pick up on at first.

Final Thoughts

If you visit between April and October, you may want to check out the Old Grand Barn. The Barn is open on the weekends for “Music in the Vines.” We enjoyed listening to bluegrass music as we shared a bottle and snacked on fruit and cheese.  We were sad to leave!

If you plan to visit Arrington, be sure to plan ahead and reserve a Premier Experience at Arrington- or get to the winery as soon as it opens to avoid the crowds.  That is a much more pleasant experience! The Premier Experience is well worth it, and you’ll get the most of your visit to the winery.