When visitors walk between the 1853 Greek-revival mansion’s six solid-cut stone pillars, onto the portico, and through the heavy wood door, they might tour the rooms or learn to cook in its original kitchen. Originally founded by John Harding in 1807 for thoroughbred-horse breeding, the rolling grounds of Belle Meade Plantation now welcome seasonal tours and events ranging from book signings to art shows. Knowledgeable guides in period costumes lead tour groups through the building’s parlors and bedrooms and down a long central hallway to ascend the three floors via a circular cherry-wood staircase.
As groups wander the mansion and cross the grounds, guides divulge facts about famous visitors, such as President Cleveland and General Ulysses S. Grant, including the fact that they probably got scared of the dark just like normal people. During special tours, the staff demonstrates Southern cooking techniques and walks visitors through an herb garden or serves them lemonade or hot wassail with desserts. In an on-grounds winery, winemakers hold tastings of red and white varietals made from Tennessee grapes. Visitors can also clink wineglasses over Southern-style cuisine at the Harding House restaurant, located on the plantation grounds.
After marrying into an Italian family, Let's Make Wine owner Cheryl Lisi discovered winemaking and, at the behest of friends, opened her own shop where everyone could participate in the art. Her stock includes a menu of winemaking kits for varietals from around the globe, such as riesling, Chilean malbec, and Lisi's favorite, Italian sangiovese, stomped with Gucci loafers. In addition to wine-crafting opportunities, Lisi hosts wineglass-painting classes and will soon add beer-brewing supplies to the store's inventory.
Visitors pause to admire the vivid colors of original abstract paintings on display. Families sprawl out in the grass while sharing bites of chocolate chicharrones. Burgeoning artists take the stage to sing their hearts out while the crowd listens and sips ales from local breweries such as Jackalope Brewing Company. Who would have thought that this relaxing afternoon is actually doing some hard work? The Made in Nashville event does more than just celebrate local Nashville artisans?it raises money for the Tennessee Literacy Coalition. The coalition provides resources and works with teachers to raise awareness of the state?s adult-literacy needs.
Jill and Spencer Pittman were captivated by the ingenuity of intelligent wine dispensers, eventually building a business around the idea at the corner of East Main Street and 2nd Avenue in downtown Franklin. The concept combines the relaxation of an informal wine tasting with the novelty of having a robot as a dinner guest as patrons serve themselves from the mechanized dispensers while a smart card tab keeps track of purchases. The helpful automatons even display information about selected vintages at the drink stations, allowing guests to learn about their favorite beverages and perfectly pair wines with soups, salads, or tapas plates of cheese, charcuterie, and seared seafood.
In an ironic twist, the wine bar hosts parties in the one-time home of a Prohibition-era bootlegger. The National Register of Historic Places house charms visitors with tucked-away wine rooms decked out with leather furniture and a bar adorned with paintings from local artists. As they unwind with glasses of rotating featured wines such as Cakebread Chardonnay and Opus One red blend and succulent morsels of chocolate desserts or cheese, patrons watch the street scenes and take in the open air from the lavish wraparound porch or sway to the strains of jazz amid the dark woods and overstuffed sofas of the wine rooms.
After honing his culinary chops at restaurants owned by Disney, Marriott, and the Wyndham Union Station hotel, chef Angelo launched a local bistro and steakhouse that makes dining feel like a vacation. Here, he stuffs whole racks of lamb with fresh basil, garlic, and feta cheese and sautés veal picatta in white wine and capers. To accommodate diners with dietary restrictions, they also prepare vegetarian and gluten-free items, such as a baked eggplant with zucchini, squash, organic spinach, and a tomato-based broth as light as cotton candy spun from summer sunbeams.
In addition to delivering grilled beef tenderloins and cowboy rib eyes, attentive servers uncork bottles of wine from around the world during dinner and special events such as tastings and private parties. Live music wafts through the restaurant Thursday–Saturday as the house pianist tickles the ivories from 6 p.m.–9 p.m.
At first, it was just one batch. Then it was two. Then three, then five, and before he knew it, Mark Kamp had collected an impressive selection of homebrewing gear. And he had a lot of beer. For Mark, the next natural step was Turtle Anarchy Brewing Company, which he started with his brother, Andrew. Along with Mike Kraft, the award-winning brewmaster behind the innovative beers at Turtle Anarchy, the three embarked on creating a rye IPA, a golden ale, and a stout, in addition to seasonally rotating brews. Today, the guys can be found around the brewery, giving tours, creating new batches, or subduing growlers.