Off the Beaten Path: Rocky Top Wine Trail

There’s more to Pigeon Forge than the neon lights that line the Parkway. Our little mountain retreat is home to a number of hidden attractions, with these little gems tucked away off the beaten path. Experiencing them is a unique way to recognize the Smoky Mountains’ rich heritage and take advantage of the regions’ exciting future.

The Rocky Top Wine Trail combines the best of Southern Appalachia’s can-do spirit and the region’s growing future, and bottles it all up into one delicious package. The wine tour allows visitors and locals alike to taste some of the Smoky Mountains’ sweetest sips, all within 12 miles.

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The tour includes five wineries dotted all along Rocky Top, each giving folks a chance to sip from a selection of more than 60 locally vinted wines, made from grapes and fruit grown from seeds on locally planted vines. Stops include:

  • Hillside Winery in Sevierville, which specializes in Italian-style and sparkling wines.
  • Apple Barn Winery in Sevierville, specializes in apple wine and other fruity twists.
  • Mountain Valley Winery in Pigeon Forge, which specializes in European-style wines and wines vinted from regional fruits.
  • Sugarland Cellars in Gatlinburg, which creates dry, semi-sweet and dessert wines with Smoky Mountain flair.
  • Eagle Springs Winery in Kodak, which offers unique Southern honey wines and more.

Those interested in completing the tour can begin at any winery on the list. You’ll receive a passport at your first stop, and can then collect stamps at each place visited. After collecting three stamps, you will receive a commemorative wine glass; those who visit all five wineries will earn another special surprise.

All of the wineries are open year-round, seven days a week. Each stop on the tour gives you a chance to interact with experts. You’ll learn the whole story that comes with each sip: Where the fruit was grown, how the wine was aged, how to drink the wine, and you’ll even be able to sample some food pairings that help bring out the best flavor in each sip.

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Best of all, perhaps, is that the Rocky Top Wine Trail is completely free. There is no charge to obtain the wine passport, and each stop offers complimentary samples. Should you decide to purchase a bottle, prices are very reasonable: The cost for a full 750 mL bottle of your favorite wine hovers around $15 at each stop. The tour will also take you through some of the world’s most beautiful scenery, as the majestic Smoky Mountains provide the perfect backdrop at each stop.

If you enjoy the Rocky Top Wine Trail experience, it’s easy to bring it home with you — or even have it shipped to your front door. The Rocky Top Wine Club gives vinos two options for sharing their favorite mountain wines. The Original Club sends two shipments of regional wines each year, with varieties depending on your personal preferences, and gives members a steep discounts on your bottles and merchandise. The Quarterly Club is for true wine lovers, and ships up to a dozen bottles of wine four times a year. Club prices are annual, and start at just $63.95.

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Upcoming events along the Rocky Top Wine Trail include:

  • Wine on the Lawn at Hillside Winery, July 19, August 16 and September 20Bring your lawn chairs and picnics. This is a FREE fun and relaxing event, so bring your lawn chairs and listen to live music from a local band. Enjoy a picnic and play cornhole. Contact Jennifer for tickets and information, (865) 389-9490.
  • Winemakers Dinner at Hillside Winery, August 24, The Rocky Top Wineries have partnered with local catering and hotels to provide the perfect night out. Tickets are required. Contact Jennifer for tickets and information, (865) 389-9490.
  • STOMP Out Breast Cancer, October 5, This year will be the Rocky Top Wine Trail’s 5th annual STOMP Out Breast Cancer! We will walk to 3 of the Rocky Top Wineries (Hillside Winery, Apple Barn Winery, and Mountain Valley Winery) there will fun activities at each location like grape stomping!

Follow Rocky Top Wine Trail on Facebook for additional information about upcoming events and fun things to do.

Have you checked out any of the stops on the trail? Let us know in the comments or get involved with the discussion online!