The third annual Nine Lakes Wine Festival will be held Friday, May 31-Saturday, June 1, in Melton Lake Park in Oak Ridge. The festival will include two events celebrating Tennessee wines and ciders that are 100 percent locally made. The festival will benefit up to 24 charities in East Tennessee, and it will also include food trucks, shaded seating, live music, and the South’s only human-powered wine barrel race.
“Rollers can earn cash for their favorite East Tennessee charity, and the fastest rollers each hour win a bottle of wine!” a press release said.
The festival’s Grand Tasting is from 3 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 1. It will feature 17 wineries sampling more than 100 Tennessee wines and ciders, along with live music and the Barrels of Fun Charity Race.
Live music will be featured in the park’s pavilion throughout the day by Wild Blue Yonder, Josh Cottrell, and Carolina Story. Food vendors will be at the festival, and festival goers are encouraged to bring a lawn chair and enjoy the evening by Melton Lake, the press release said.
James R. Riddle, president of the Appalachian Region Wine Producers, which organizes the festival to promote Tennessee wines, said the barrel racing competition brings a glimpse of Italy to East Tennessee.
“Here in the Southeast we have horse-barrel racing, of course, but as far as we know, this is the only human-powered barrel race in the region,” Riddle said. “This is a race for charity, and since Tennessee wines by and large are a rural product, we wanted to choose charities that are also working to improve the quality of life in rural Appalachia.”
Charities benefitting from Nine Lakes Wine Festival include United Way of Anderson County, Girls Inc., CASA of the Tennessee Heartland, Foothills Land Conservancy, ADFAC, several animal shelters, and more, the press release said.
Anyone 21 or older can sign up to roll on a team the day of the Grand Tasting, June 1, starting at 3 p.m. at the race tent. Each team of 1-2 people picks a charity from the festival list, and that charity will automatically receive a $50 cash donation from the charity. Winning teams each hour earn an extra $50 donation for their chosen charities, and a bottle of wine for themselves.
The festival also offers the VIP Taste of Gold event on Friday, May 31. That event features only gold medal and reserve wines, paired with a gourmet small plate dinner that is included. Tickets for both are on sale now at www.NineLakesWineFestival.com. Complete rules for the barrel race are also on the website.
A commemorative T-shirt has been designed by Knoxville artist Mark Gilleran of the The Depot Printhouse. He will be printing them on site with water-based inks, the press release said.
Nine Lakes Wine Festival is just 30 minutes from downtown Knoxville, and its name reflects the nine lakes made by the Tennessee Valley Authority in the greater Knoxville region, the press release said. The festival is produced by the Appalachian Region Wine Producers Association and presented by Celebrate Oak Ridge. The Appalachian Region Wine Producers Association emphasizes wine quality and cooperative tourism, and promotes three wine trails in the region: Great Valley Wine Trail, Foothills Wine & Cider Trail, and Rocky Top Wine Trail.
Free parking is available at Nine Lakes Wine Festival. For more information visit www.NineLakesWineFestival.com.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
See previous story on the festival here.
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