Wine and moonshine in Sevierville, Tennessee

It all started in the sandbox—back when we all had bangs on our foreheads and long before we were of legal drinking age. Today, more than 20 years later, we were still talking about boys, but instead of sipping on juice boxes, we were sharing a bottle of Tennessee wine.

Four months earlier, Amy, Jenna, Sarah, and I decided we deserved to cash in on some much-needed girl time by taking a long weekend trip to Sevierville, TN. “I read it has an amazing wine trail,” said Amy, referring to the Rocky Top Wine Trail. Five distinctive wineries just north of the Great Smoky Mountains? Sign me up!

It wasn’t hard to get Jenna and Sarah on board. We all have similar interests, and Eastern Tennessee was a good central location given the fact we were now raising our families all over the map. We booked a luxurious cabin, and just like that our girls’ getaway weekend was officially in the books. Bring on the wine!

“I think I need to try Courage,” Amy, a recent divorcee trying to get back into the dating scene, announced on our first morning in Sevierville. Eagle Springs Winery, housed in a spacious log structure conveniently located a stone’s throw from I-40, was our first stop on the wine trail. Known for its rich, honey-infused wines, Eagle Springs has quite the selection of creative blends including Courage, Fearless, and Pride of the South. My favorites were the limited edition flavors, whose proceeds go to help orphaned bears via Appalachian Bear Rescue.

After completing our tasting, we hit up the gift shop for some retail therapy. Then we loaded up into our limo—if you’re going to have a designated driver, you may as well splurge for the deluxe version! It reminded us of the time we pooled our money together to rent a limo for senior prom. But this time, we weren’t wearing hideous chiffon dresses, glittery blue eye shadow, and smoky black eyeliner.

Spending our adult allowance

“You young ladies need to try the Black and Blue,” said the welcoming sommelier at Hillside Winery, our next stop on the wine trail. “By far, it’s our most popular wine.”

“We heard!” we said in unison. We had met another group of women—sisters celebrating a big birthday—at Eagle Springs, who were doing the wine trail backward and they raved about the Black and Blue.

It was refreshing, but the frozen wines were also a treat on this warm, spring Tennessee day. “Remember how we used to spend our allowance on slushies at the mall?” Jenna asked. “Of course,” I answered, “and we would all get brain freezes!”

Years later, we were still getting brain freezes. But instead of drinking artificial flavoring and high fructose corn syrup, we were tasting eight different wines made with Tennessee grapes.

Afternoon at the orchard

Tennessee apple tasting was next on the agenda. Well, technically speaking, apples in wine form. While sampling a handful of complimentary wines at Apple Barn Winery, we posed for a group photo in front of a large window providing a behind-the-scenes look at the winemaking process. The wine we were currently sipping on had spent a significant amount of time here—in tanks, barrels, and eventually, bottles.

Thanks to our appetites, we ended up spending a significant amount of time next door at the Applewood Grill. While the restaurant offered a convenient “no corkage fee” so diners can enjoy their purchases from the winery, we knew we had a serious tasting up next, so we stuck with water.

Adding Thunder Road to memory lane

That “serious” tasting involved moonshine. Now, normally, the only thing I consume out of Mason jars is my mom’s homemade raspberry jam. But when in Rome, or Tennessee, it’s necessary to taste the unofficial state drink.

Although Tennesseans have been making moonshine for more than 100 years, Thunder Road Distillery is a recent addition to Sevierville’s area attractions. Technically not a part of the wine tour, we thought it was worth the stop. Some of the employees dress the part of colorful country bumpkin bootleggers and made our visit not only educational but also very entertaining. (Granted, after 10 free samples of 50%+ proof, we were prone to giggles.)

With unique flavors like watermelon, s’mores, apple dumplin’, and salted caramel, it was tempting to buy a jar of each. But we knew we had a few more souvenir stops to make in Sevierville before heading home, so we refrained from cleaning out the distillery shop.

We did, however, get a few jars of the Aged Renegade Rum. Not just because we liked the taste, but we were also sold on the product description. It began, “Proof that some things get better with time…”

That summed up the friendship between the four of us. From pre-school play dates in a sandbox to a spirited weekend getaway in Sevierville, we knew how to have a good ol’ girls-only time!

Plan your Sevierville girlfriends’ getaway

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