I’ve got two words for you: Road trip. Perhaps that conjures up your rowdy past, when you careened to an outdoor concert with five scroungy friends crammed in some klunker with smoke billowing from the windows.
Well, now that we’re all grown up – at least physically – you might consider a road trip to a boutique winery one hour from Nashville for some really big fun.
Tennessee wineries are known for producing dessert wines, but not so at Chateau Ross, where husband and wife team Ross Proctor and Deborah McIntyre specialize in reds, award winning reds. Luscious blends, adequate aging in American oak and a nose for excellence have garnered them numerous southern wine awards and a faithful following of fans that help with stomping, bottling and labeling during fall harvest. And that is the charm of this winery; since they rely on volunteer labor, you, too, can get in on the action. For a small fee, you will get lunch and all the wine you can drink in return for your efforts, or rather, your experience.
Don’t expect a chateau when you arrive. Operations are conducted from the basement of their lovely home nestled in the trees. A guest room serves as the office and visitors navigate around dozens of barrels, the label room, and cellar where private dinners are held.
Deborah and Ross are a wine lover’s love story. They met when he was a bartender, and when his shift was over, the two would go drink wines and probably converse with such adjectives as “provocative,” “smoky” and “hint of cassis.” Once the land in Springhill was obtained and planted, they would leave Nashville for weekends to tend young vines, which included pitching tents, bathing in the creek and sleeping in the car during storms. Their award winning “Honeymoon Harvest” was named for the honeymoon they spent crushing grapes. As farmers, they battle a retinue of heavy rains, mildew, rot, birds, Japanese beetles and June bugs.
Between “Deborah’s Vineyard” in Springhill and the “Meadowlark Vineyard” in White’s Creek, the combined ten acres produce 1,000 cases per year, though they’ve had to buy grapes from Washington and California for blending. They are known for their “Big Bitch Red,” named after their beloved Rottweiler, Caymus, who passed away last year. Big Bitch changes every year because it is a combination of whatever is left over: Sangiovese, Syrah, Zinfandel and Nebbiolo are some. Look for the label with a picture of a Rottweiler for $16.99 at Nashville outlets.
Another notable is the “Maison Rouge,” and heads up on the incredible ’04 Cabernet Franc, which I was able to barrel taste. In fact, all of their ’04 varietals are straight up Tennessee grapes. I think Ross loyalists are going to be pleased when ’04 hits the market, and I think that Ross is going to knock the grape skins off the competition.
If picking, labeling or stomping doesn’t butter your baguette, pack a lunch and buy some wine to enjoy at their picnic table. Chilled whites are available if you prefer a Chateau Ross Viognier or Chardonnay. Several large dogs that will happily greet your arrival will probably join you.
Unfortunately, they haven’t gotten around to a web site with pictures yet, but if you want to plan an event with a group, private dinner in the cellar, volunteering or just tasting, give them a call.
Whether it be a quick road trip, an impressive second date or squishing grapes between your toes, Chateau Ross is a little bit of Napa in your own backyard: good wine, good people.
Chateau Ross Winery
Sat-Tues by appointment
5823 Fulton Road, Springfield, TN 37172
How To Get There:
- From Nashville take I24 West
- Exit #35 Joelton/Springfield
- Turn right towards Springfield
- Turn left on Memorial Blvd and go through town about 6 miles
- Turn right on Hwy. 25
- Turn left on Youngville and travel about 6 miles
- Turn left on Fulton Road
- The winery is on the right