Our Ties to Thunder Road Are Strong
From Thunder Road to Copperhead Road. Our wine trail route closely follows the eastern leg of the White Lightening: Thunder Road to Rebels Trail, an official Tennessee Discover Trail.
We trace our history to the prohibition-era, moonshine-running corridor. The runners brought the “Thunder” to many back roads of East Tennessee, and our trail follows Thunder Road, from Maynardville, Tennessee to the beautiful Watauga Lake region near the North Carolina border, ending at Copperhead Road. Discover our award-winning Tennessee wines as you explore all that is in between!
You’ll traverse sections of the route Kentucky moonshiners took from Cumberland Gap through Maynardville and beyond. Visit all five wineries on The Trail and you will travel Thunder Road to Copperhead Road and be deep in the heart of Appalachia.
Watauga Lake Winery is on the corner of Copperhead Road and Big Dry Run Rd in Johnson County. This same Copperhead Road was made famous by Steve Earl’s song by the same name.
Goodwater Vineyards is in Cocke County near the area where the famous moonshiner Popcorn Sutton was from.
The Winery at Seven Springs Farm just outside Maynardville in Union County is on an original “Thunder Road”, a nighttime route from Harlan, Kentucky, to Knoxville, Tennessee, traveled by illegal whiskey haulers.
American Legend — Thunder Road. Making moonshine was an industry in the American South before and after Prohibition. In the 1950s muscle cars became popular and various roads became known as “Thunder Road” for their use by moonshiners. The business of transporting moonshine, which began in the 1920’s with Prohibition and continued through to the 50’s to avoid paying taxes, was risky. In an effort to avoid the law, fast cars, fearless drivers, and back-woods mountain roads that led to the cities and towns created an American legend – Thunder Road.
Many moonshine smuggling routes were referred to as Thunder Road, including Route 9, going north from Atlanta, the nighttime route from Harlan, Kentucky, to Knoxville, Tennessee, traveled by illegal whiskey haulers, Georgia Highway 197, the stretch of Jacksboro Highway that runs through Sansom Park Texas, and old timers from North Carolina even say that Thunder Road had a Southern Route via Texas over the Appalachian continental divide rolling right into the alley aside Eureka Saloon. Many 1940s and 1950s muscle cars became popular for their value to moonshiners in running their moonshine and avoiding the ‘revenooers’. There is a common association of Thunder Road with sour mash whiskey and moonshine and many events throughout the Southeastern United States celebrate this unique Appalachian Heritage. To the men who traveled these routes, it was much more than legend — it was the road to freedom from economic despair.