Note: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the resort towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge were this week the center of unprecedented wildfires. At this time, fatalities have been reported, many hospitalized, and it is estimated that 15,000 acres of our beloved mountains have burned. While our member winery structures are safe, this wildfire has and will continue to have a devastating impact on the people who call these mountains home. We ask that you keep them in your thoughts and prayers and consider donating to the relief efforts listed here.
Here in the Great Valley of East Tennessee, we’re just as immersed in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season as anywhere else in the U.S. But, it’s possible that here our memories of a simpler, more comforting time are just a little bit closer. We have a wealth of historic sites and homes that give a window onto past ways of life, from Colonial days to the Civil War era to our recent Appalachian heritage.
Plus, many of those sites are decorated for Christmas in their own historic style this time of year. And what better way to see those decorations than by candlelight? Here are a few candlelight tours offered near our member wineries that will truly transport you back in time and warm up your holiday spirit.
Museum of Appalachia, Norris
The Museum of Appalachia in Norris, Tennessee is a huge homestead dedicated to preserving the art, architecture and way of life of our mountain people. This time of year, the collected log homes and mountain churches are decked with decorations the way old-timers remember. That means simple, cozy and full of warmth and love.
Christmas decorations will be up through Dec. 24 for the Museum’s Christmas in Old Appalachia season, and the special Candlelight Christmas Tours will be held 5-8 p.m. Dec. 2-3, with musicians and craft demonstrations in the cabins, carols in Irwin Church, and a live nativity scene complete with animals.
The Museum is located about 30 minutes along scenic Highway 61 from The Winery at Seven Springs Farm.
Marble Springs State Historic Site, Knoxville
Marble Springs was the home of Governor John Sevier, for which Sevierville and Sevier County, home of Eagle Springs Winery, are named. A Tennessee founding father and Revolutionary War hero, Sevier was governor of the short-lived State of Franklin and the first governor of the State of Tennessee. The site features Colonial-era log structures that will be decorated with fresh greenery for Christmas. Join in an open hearth candlemaking workshop Dec. 3, and candlelight tours of Marble Springs Dec. 10. The tours include open hearth cooking, live music, warm drinks and baked goods. Marble Springs is located just 30 minutes from Eagle Springs Winery and 45 minutes from Spout Spring Estates Winery and Vineyard.
The Carter Mansion, Elizabethton
The Carter Mansion, part of the Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park, is the oldest frame house in Tennessee, built by pioneer John Carter and his son, Landon Carter. John passed away before the home was completed, so Landon and his wife Elizabeth lived there. On the frontier of Tennessee, most folks lived in log cabins, so this Colonial-style frame house was luxurious indeed! John and Landon Carter were respected statesmen in the State of Franklin and later the State of Tennessee. In fact, Carter County is named for Landon, and the town of Elizabethton for his wife Elizabeth.
For Christmas, the Carter Mansion reflects the decor and celebrations of the finest Colonial Williamsburg or Philadelphia homes, more elegant than the backwoods celebrations of the Carters’ neighbors. The home will be decorated with greenery, and live music and hot cider will transport you to a Colonial Christmas. Candlelight tours will be held 6-9 p.m. Dec. 2-3. Registration is available here.
The Carter Mansion is an hour drive from Watauga Lake Winery through scenic forests and farmland.
Andrew Johnson Homestead, Greeneville
The home of President Andrew Johnson is just a 30 minute drive from Goodwater Vineyards. Johnson became president immediately after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, and his Greeneville home is a National Park, preserved for the public in Civil War era style with authentic items belonging to Johnson. His enduring legacy helped shape the U.S. following the Civil War.
An open house accompanied by candlelight tours of the home will be held 5:30 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2.
We would love to see you along the Great Valley Wine Trail this holiday season! From our families to yours, we hope your holidays are filled with love and light.