It was New Years Eve and I’d been driving through Kentucky for hours. The roadside scenery was sparse and so was my patience.
By this point in the road trip, our conversation had been reduced to reading road signs aloud. However, there was one road sign that I don’t regret reading. It was a sign for the Long Hollow Winery, just outside of Nashville in Goodlettsville, Tennessee.
I won’t pretend to be a wine snob or that I have a well-refined palate. One thing I do know is that I really liked this place. My boyfriend, Sridhar, and I were relieved that the cottage-style building with a large parking lot was open at noon on New Years Eve. Apparently, we aren’t the only ones who like to start early.
A gift shop filled most of the space inside of the winery with a standard array of arts and crafts. Beyond the gift shop, stood a bar that ran along the back of the room. The winery owner, Stu Phillips, greeted us with a warm welcome and immediately offered a taste of seven of his wines. Much to my liking, the portion sizes were generous.
Stu made brief mention about his former life in the music business, as we engaged in idle chit-chat about when he started his winery and how he took care of his vineyard. However, I didn’t learn how involved he was in the Nashville music scene until I began researching for this article.
One by one, tiny glasses were filled with Stu’s wine. The poisons of choice were Riesling, Signature, Chardonnay, Scarlet, Plantation, Blackberry, and Strawberry. My tastes are generally swayed by fruit and sweet wines, rather than dry and bland ones. However, none of them were very dry and I would have enjoyed a bottle of any one of the wines I tried.
My number one pick was the Blackberry Wine. My first tasting impression was that of sparking juice. However, sparkling juices don’t exactly contain 14% alcohol. It was smooth, rich, and far too easy to drink. I definitely made sure to pick up a bottle to take back home. Long Hollows’s website even shares a recipe for blackberry wine cake. By now my bottle is long gone, but I really wished I would have picked up a second one to try this recipe.
My number two pick was the Plantation, which is a semi-sweet red wine and an authentic recipe from an old plantation of West Tennessee. It had a slightly bitter and complex taste with flavors I couldn’t exactly put my finger on. This wine would go with pretty much any type of food and went down very smoothly.
Since no one else was visiting the winery at that time, Stu continued to chat with us as we tasted. He told that he had started the winery after realizing that the music business and record sales would never been what they used to in the old days. He said that he actually only had a few days left to work before he retired and turned the business over to his grown children, who ran a good portion of the business anyway.
My road trip pit stops tend to be gas stations and fast food restaurants. I’m glad I glanced up in time to notice the winery billboard as I headed towards Nashville that day. Long Hollow had a refreshing, small-time charm that seemed to shun from the commercialism of the nearby city. And now, I’m inspired to keep my eye out for other wineries that pop up along the way during future road trips.