The Sunday afternoon drive. Before the time of expensive gasoline, gridlock, crumbling roads, and suburban sprawl, many folks considered the Sunday afternoon drive the pinnacle of their week, a great time for the family to spend time together and take in the majesty of country scenery and some much needed fresh air.
Well, those days are largely gone now, but a sub-culture of Sunday ramblers still exists. For example, soccer moms might catch of glimpse of Harley-riding CFOs in their mid-40s while filling up the minivan and buying some snacks for the big game. Around Memphis on Saturday morning, the roads with longer stretches start crawling with cyclists on $1000 bikes, and they stick around to almost sundown on Sunday. Convinced that I wasn’t taking full advantage of the gorgeous weather this weekend, I elected to join them and see some of pre-sprawl Memphis with some friends in my Jeep Wrangler (which hasn’t had its soft-top on for over a year, I’m proud to say).
Completely by luck, Pete Big Bear, Dave, and I stumbled on what we can easily see becoming a weekly event. While cruising down U.S. Highway 51, a green highway sign for a “Winery” caught our eye, followed with “Live Music on Sunday” right below. Curious, we turned around, heading down a tiny, shaded two-lane that eventually dumped right in front of what looked like a family reunion.
Old Millington Winery [map] has been around since 2000, but few people in Memphis even know it exists. The feature some good, inexpensive fruit and sweet wines, including Muscadine (called Dancing Goat), Blush Muscadine, Strawberry, Peach, and Blackberry. They also offer a red port, made from West Tennessee grapes, as well as some decent table wines, red and white. Owned by Perry and Carrie Welch, Old Millington Winery is as proud of the quality that goes into making their wine as they are of the award-winning product.
If the Sunday afternoon music events are any indication, the annual Oktoberfest events must be a blast. (The next one is scheduled for October 14th, 2007.) If October is too far off for you, they have a Big Crawfish Boil on May 20th. In addition to perfectly chilled wine and some great tunes from Corey Osborne and friends, if you are hungry, you can get some homemade hot wings and turkey legs from some folks cooking right outside, featuring a grill with a hydraulic lift you just have to see to believe.
While you may not think of it as a wine producing region, Tennessee actually features more than 20 production wineries. However, most of these wineries are in the cooler eastern half of the state, in or near the Smokey Mountains. Perhaps the best wineries in the western 1/3rd of the state, other than Old Millington Winery, include Cordova Cellars (in Cordova) and Old Medina Winery (in Jackson).
Well, I think I know where I’ll be going on my next Sunday drive…