Ivory Mist from Grinders Switch Winery is an off-dry white that goes down easy when you're sitting with friends. It went onto my list of Midstate wines worth seeking out. (By the way, off-dry means the wine has a tiny hint of sweetness but isn't sugary like a dessert wine.)
The winery takes its name from the mythical birthplace of Grand Ole Opry star Minnie Pearl, the late Sarah Cannon. Cannon's real birthplace, and the actual site of the Grinders Switch Winery, is Centerville, about 50 miles west of Nashville on Highway 100 or the Natchez Trace, if you prefer your car travel more leisurely, and with a bigger dose of the exquisite Tennessee countryside.
Grinders Switch Winery and three other wineries have assembled themselves into the Natchez Trace Wine Trail. Touring and tasting at the four is an inexpensive "staycation" night or weekend that practically plans itself.
My plan is to start with an overnight at Chestnut Hill Ranch in Only, Tenn., near Centerville. Start the wine trail in the morning with Grinders Switch. Move on to Howdy Podnar furniture for great prices on overhauled wood furniture. (Call first at 931-729-3388 or email tom (at)howdypodnar(dot)com.)
Come home via Highway 100 on the Trace for the last stop at Belle Meade Mansion for its wines, made from Keg Springs grapes by Keg Springs winemaker Brian Hamm. Then spend the night in your own bed.
IMHO, that part of Tennessee is as beautiful in the winter as in the warm months (except autumn — that's really the Trace's moment). In cold weather, you've got the short hiking trails off the Trace to yourself. So I'm making it a two-night trip so I can add hiking, and the extra night also lets me not worry about being overzealous in the tasting rooms.
Night two's stay is at the Ridgetop B&B in Hampshire near the two wineries. Next day, a trip to Meriwether Lewis Park near Hohenwald and then a swing through Columbia for a trip through Rippavilla and the other antebellum mansions.
I'm pretty excited — anyone done this yet? Or have other suggestions for the itinerary?