MAYNARDVILLE, Tenn. – Governor Bill Haslam has designated the month of May 2018 as “Tennessee Wine and Grape Appreciation Month.”
“Tennessee Wine and Grape Appreciation Month is an opportunity to celebrate Tennessee’s rich wine heritage with citizens and business and community leaders working in the wine industry,” said Gov. Haslam.
The proclamation recognizes the growth and economic impact of the Tennessee wine and grape industry in recent years. Tennessee is rich in agricultural diversity; and recent statistics show the state’s grape and wine industry is expanding quickly, according to the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. A recent analysis by the University of Tennessee-Knoxville professor David Hughes found that the state now has more than 70 bonded wineries and accounts for some 500 jobs in rural areas.
“With the considerable growth of our wineries and vineyards in recent years, producers have demonstrated that Tennessee agriculture can be innovative and versatile,” said Agriculture Commissioner Jai Templeton. “We are proud to see this sector recognized for its success.”
Through the Specialty Crop Block Grant program, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture has been able to provide assistance in the establishment of two new American Viticultural Areas in Tennessee, areas that are federally designated grape growing regions. One proposed AVA is in the Upper Cumberland Region on the plateau and the other is the region surrounding Knoxville, called Nine Lakes.
“We have nine lakes, surrounded by two mountain chains. Combined with the lake effect, our gentle hillsides are perfect for growing many varietals of grapes,” said James R. Riddle, president of the Appalachian Region Wine Producers. “The Nine Lakes region of Tennessee already has more wineries and vineyards than any other part of the state.”
And to celebrate those local wines, the public is invited to Nine Lakes Wine Festival, May 17-19 in Oak Ridge and Knoxville.
Nine Lakes Wine Festival includes a Chef’s Table Wine Dinner, produced by UT Culinary Community Cooking Instructors, and paired with three Tennessee wines, 6-9 p.m. May 17 at the UT Visitors Center. The VIP Taste of Gold event, a tasting of 25 gold medal winning wines, paired with small plate cuisine 6-9:30 p.m. May 18 at Melton Lake Park, Oak Ridge. The evening includes a celebration and announcement of the Governor’s Cup Award. The main event, Grand Tasting, offers tasting of more than 100 wines and ciders with live music, chef demonstrations and wine seminars 3-8 p.m. May 19 at Melton Lake Park, Oak Ridge.
For tickets and more information, visit www.NineLakesWineFestival.com.