There are plenty of local spots to enjoy wine and picnic, but there's something extra-special about drinking wine and picnicking en masse — in separate groups at a distance these days — and the vineyard setting at Arrington Vineyards offers the perfect spot. Located about a two-hour drive from Chattanooga and an hour from Nashville, Arrington Vineyards offers a wine country-style day trip within reach.
Owned by country star Kix Brooks, Arrington produces 21 wines on-site. Although tours of its facilities and tastings in the traditional format are suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can still taste a variety of wines by purchasing tasting flights of four, 2-ounce samples. Stick to wines from a certain variety, such as red, white or sweet, or try the winery's seasonal "local flight," which pairs four of its wines with four products from a local vendor, like Music City Chocolates.
In addition to flights, wine is also available by the bottle (no glasses).
Most people bring their own food and picnic setup, which can include kids. Despite it being a winery, the vineyard is family-friendly and has visitors of all ages.
"A lot of times, groups of parents will come out and bring their kids. They'll sit and enjoy the wine and their kids will be enjoying running around the wide open spaces, because we have lots of room and lots of places to explore," says Jessilyn Fisher, Arrington's marketing director.
Outside food is more than welcome, but the winery has cheese, charcuterie and other snacks to buy if you don't want to bother with bringing your own food.
Most people come to spend the day, typically around three or four hours, she says. The winery hosts free live music every weekend from April through November, and food trucks every Friday from May through October.
If you want to make it an overnighter, the closest hotels are in Franklin. The Harpeth Franklin Downtown is a fairly new Curio Collection by Hilton property that's within walking distance to many of the town's shops and restaurants ($221-$223 per night). Franklin Hilton Cool Springs, which opened in 2018, has a nice heated outdoor pool ($159-$223 per night).
Wines to try:
* Arrington's Firefly Rose 2019, a dry rose blend, nabbed a Double Gold Medal and Best of Class for Dry Rose/Blush in the 0.1-0.299 residual sugar category in the 2021 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
* Red Fox Red 2017, Arrington's most popular red wine, was a Double Gold Medal winner in the 2019 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
* Sparkle 2019 won a Double Gold Medal and Best of Class at the 2021 East Meets West Wine Competition.