If you haven't stopped in the little storefront for Paris Winery's new Chattanooga location, you need to drop by before your holiday entertaining begins.
Located at the intersection of Lee Highway and Shallowford Road, the local tasting room offers 31 wine flavors from which visitors may sample before they buy, wine tastings, private sip-and-savor events and more.
"I'm first-generation American, and I grew up making wine with my father and grandfather," said Ruggero Ciarrocchi, owner and founder of Paris Winery, adding that wine has always been a part of his life. "There are more than three generations of wine makers in my family, and we're all Italian."
Ciarrocchi is also a pilot, who discovered the Paris, Tennessee, area while living in Florida in his retirement.
"Every time a hurricane would come in, my wife and I would fly out that way, and just really loved it," he said. "We got in touch with a local Realtor and ended up buying a 165-acre farm. I decided to plant some grapes, and that's how the winery got started."
The Chattanooga location opened in September. Ciarrocchi also has a store in Cookeville, Tennessee.
"We come to a wine festival here every spring," he said. "People love our wine and always want to know where to buy it, so opening here just made sense."
Ciarrocchi makes tastings at his store a completely interactive experience from the time visitors enter. Guests are asked if they like sweet or dry, red or white, sparkling or high-alcohol wines. From there, he and his staff will suggest bottles to make the perfect pairing for holiday meals, special occasions and beyond.
"For the holidays right now, we have our spiced apple wine that's a mulled cinnamon with nutmeg and cloves. It goes great with a holiday ham," he described. He added it can also be used to marinate a turkey or ham overnight for a deliciously sweet flavor.
"Also big right now is our cotton candy, which has just gone crazy. Seems the sweet taste reminds adults of their days as a kid."
If you want to get a jump on your gift-giving, Paris Winery can create gift baskets in a variety of themes to fit any budget as well. Choose from options such as one of the store's guitar-shaped bottles paired with two glasses or imported cheese boxes with a wine of your choice. There are numerous possibilities.
"We can go very simple or elaborate," Ciarrocchi said. "It's up to you and what you're looking to create."
Paris Winery offers up to six free tastings, and then they are $1 each. To learn more, check the website at pariswinery.com.