Glints of sunshine and rich West Tennessee soil nurture more than Crown Winery's lush vines; solar energy powers the vintners' Tuscan-style villa and headquarters, which is built into a hillside to reap the earth's natural cooling capabilities. Principal co-owners Peter and Rita Howard—a descendant of father of meteorology Sir Luke Howard, and a member of the National Baton Twirling Association Hall of Fame, respectively—bottle a dozen wines every year. Whites, such as the citrusy cayuga, may evoke memories of summertime fruit salads and fragrant floral bouquets sprouted from Chia Pet experiments. The winery's roster of reds includes the medium-bodied chambourcin, served at room temperature to liberate its berry-laced tang, and the royal red, a savory mishmash of norton grapes and estate-grown noiret. Winery tours invite guests to gambol along the vines and learn about the winemaking process, and parties and special events such as "Wine Down" night on Fridays pair wines with Tennessee cheeses and live music. The idyllic 50-acre setting is also a popular spot for weddings, particularly in the Queen's Pavilion, with oak beams and sweeping vineyard views, orchestrated by Crown Winery's designated wedding coordinator.
Embracing the Tennessee tradition of barbecue, Firehouse BBQ & Wings brings the enjoyment of eating it to the indoors—and adds beer to the equation. Sidle up to tall tables and order whole racks of ribs, barbecue pork sandwiches, and wings tossed in spicy sauce. Meanwhile, sip on pitchers of draft beer, glasses of strawberry lemonade, or boots of tea while digging into barbecue nachos and hamburgers.
Situated beneath an arrangement of glowing peach blossoms, couples clink glasses of house sake and white wine together, seated at dark tables that dot the low-lit dining room. At the sushi bar, chefs cut fresh fish into thin slices, draping them over clumps of sticky sushi rice and lining the interior of rolls alongside ingredients such as jalapeño, grilled eel, and spicy mayo. During lunch, diners can enjoy assembled bento boxes stocked with soup and salad, a trio of appetizers, and filet mignon.
Century Farm orchestrates a bright spectrum of dry, semisweet, and fruity wines in a charming country shop surrounded by acres of shady arbors and southern grape vines. Only 4.5 years old, the blossoming winery proved its mettle at the 2011 Wines of the South Competition by collecting three awards—the Best of Tennessee Fruit–William O. Beach Award for its 2009 vintage traminette; a silver medal for its 2009 Norton; and a bronze for its 2009 red muscadine. While guests peruse bottles, a complimentary tasting introduces palates to the subtle notes and intricacies of varieties such as the dry, oaked 2010 Norton ($12.95) or the semisweet 2008 traminette ($12), with fruity layers and a spicy finish. Century Farm also hosts musical performances on select Saturdays from late April to September, during which visitors may enjoy wine tastings, picnics, and slow dances with graceful vines.