Today is Sunday, August 20, 2017

Toast to Tennessee on tap Saturday

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Middle Tennessee's premier wine festival, A Toast to Tennessee, is on tap Saturday at Nashville Shores.

There are 24 wineries and just as many artisans and food venders at this 11th annual event hosted by the Mt. Juliet Chamber. It starts at noon and lasts until 6 p.m.

The festival is a celebration of local wineries that continue to gain national, and worldwide, prominence.

Chamber President Mark Hinesley said they expect another record crowd this year of more than 3,000 attendees.

"And apparently Mother Nature loves our wine festival," he said. "It's going to be 78 degrees, and no rain!"

Wine tasters can casually stroll through the park with their complimentary tasting glass and a list to jot down their favorite wines. Some of the wineries include Beans Creek, Century Farm, Eagle Springs, Grinders Switch, Highland Manor and Apple Barn.

Wine lovers can also browse and shop at over 20 artisan and specialty vendors. There's a wide variety to choose from including pottery, perfumes, soaps, glass and candles. Food vendors include Tennessee Gourmet, Divine Art Toffee and Hauling' Oats.

"You will find a wide assortment of the best gourmet foods Tennessee has to offer," Hinesley said. "Many of these vendors are family-owned companies who either grow their own products or purchase fresh grains and produce from Tennessee farmers for their recipes."

Turkey legs and polish sausage are just some of the fare to munch on while drinking various wines.

Festival favorites are the "experience seminars." There are four new ones this year. Wine lovers can take a break and enjoy informative sessions. They are free and offered every hour, on the hour, and last about 20 minutes. All of them feature sips of Tennessee wines and a nibble. They start at 1 p.m. with Cooking with Wine, followed by Temperature Taste Test, Wine Pairing and Glass Class.

There's also live entertainment to enhance the atmosphere.

Organizers said there's a new entrance to the festival with dedicated ticket windows to speed entry and avoid the lines of previous years. Festival-goers also have the opportunity to enjoy the park area near the lake. They are encouraged to bring their lawn chairs, relax and enjoy their wine purchases.

There's free parking, lot shuttles and no outside food or drink are allowed. And everyone must show a photo I.D. Tickets at the gate are $45.

Writer Laurie Everett may be contacted at laurieeverett1@gmail.com.

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