I leveraged a trip to the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion to visit Countryside Vineyards & Winery, located not far down Route 81 in Blountville, Tennessee. There are about three dozen wineries operating in the Volunteer State (visit Tennesse Wine Country), with most producing wine from French hybrids, native labrusca grapes, or country wines from berries. Countryside opened just over a decade ago and owner-winemaker Jim Thomas is most proud of his Chambourcin. This French-American hybrid was developed by Joannes Seibel in the Loire Valley of France in the 1860s - probably to help alleviate the affects of the phyloxera epidemic. However, it wasn't until the 1970s that the grape was planted widely in the United States for commercial use. Since then, its planting
has exploded because of its vineyard hardiness (cold and humidity) and diversity in styles. It can be vinified into a full or medium bodied dry red, a rose, or even a sweeter wine. Countryside's Chambourcin is a medium bodied wine, with smooth cherry-chocolate flavors, and a slightly peppery finish. The is a nice, easy drinking wine; affordable ($13); and worthy of the winery's praise.