It's not uncommon to see wild turkeys, deer, and foxes right from the back deck of Natchez Hills Bed & Breakfast. The B&B sits in the midst of 175 acres of wilderness dotted with old barns and organic gardens. A number of hiking trails wend throughout the property, too, including one leading to Karen's Falls, one of a few waterfalls nearby.
The B&B's three guest rooms all have nice views of the surrounding wilderness, especially the Coal Miner's cabin, which overlooks the front gardens and koi pond from a private outdoor seating area. In the morning, the innkeepers set out a family-style breakfast in the dining room or on the back deck (weather permitting). There's also coffee, tea, and cocoa available all day long.
Century Farm orchestrates a bright spectrum of dry wines, semisweet wines, and fruit 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.
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. 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.
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.