While traveling through Tennessee on I-81, we saw signs and then the chateau for Corey Ippolito Winery and quickly exited. We learned that the winery is the newest in Tennessee, yet the vineyards have been producing grapes since 1999. In fact, Corey Ippolito Vineyard was the first vineyard to successfully grow Traminette, in which the state is now taking an active role in subsidizing the planting of this grape. Many of the other estate grown grapes are Labrusca (Carawba, Niagara, Steuben) with the remaining being Cabernet, Cynthiania, Golden Muscat and Leon Millot. Oh yea, and Sunbelt, a grape created by the Arkansas Agricultral Experimental Station. Bascially the grape is a concord with the hardiness to endure warmer weather. After growing these grapes and operating a bed and breakfast onsite, the next logical step was to start producing wine. After many years operating as amateurs and winning medals in several competitions, the winery opened to the public this year.
The wine selection was as diverse as the estate grapes. There were three styles of white wine: a dry Chardonnay, a semi-sweet Rocco Bianco, and the semi-dry Traminette. This last wine had the spicy aroma and flavor characteristic to the variety and was our favorite among the white wines. For reds, they offer a dry Merlot, a dry Cynthiana, and the sweet Bella Rosso Red - a blend of several of the labrusca grapes. The Cynthiana was good for a young wine. It didn't have the acidity associated with some new Norton wines and was drinkable now. Give it a few more years in the bottle and the wine will improve even more. The final select of wines was a mix of fruit, muscadine and blush styled wines. The Muscadine wine was really good; it had the fruit flavor of the grape without the syrup or grittiness that some muscadine wines possess. The Catawba based Sonnino Sunset Blush was also a good wine for this blend. It is made semi-sweet but tastes more dry than sweet. What is sweet is the Blackberry wine, made in a dessert style and even more interesting when mixed with shaved ice.
If you find yourself driving along I-81 at the Virginia-Tennessee border, visit Corey Ippolito Winery. What a great break from the road.