The fourth annual Nine Lakes Wine Festival has been converted to a safer, spread out, open-air “Winemaker’s Market” on Saturday, September 12, a press release said. The festival is scheduled from 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday at Melton Lake Park in Oak Ridge.
“All of our winemakers will be wearing masks, and we ask that the public does, too,” said event director Rebecca Williams. “They will be spread out in the park, with at least 10 feet between vendor tents, and we may have to limit ticket sales to allow for social distancing.”
The event will not offer wine samples to taste this year.
“The state will not allow it, and we agree it would not be a safe thing to do,” Williams said. “Instead, we’re offering a unique shopping event, sort of like a farmer’s market for wine. Tennessee wines are not generally sold in stores, so you really have to come to an event or drive out to a winery to find them.”
Thirteen local wineries will be represented at the event. General admission tickets are $10, and they benefit United Way of Anderson County. They include a wine tote and tasting glass to take home, the press release said.
“If you’re not sure what to buy because there’s no tasting, try to watch our many virtual tastings on our website, NineLakesWineFestival.com,” Williams said. “They’re fun and informative, and our winemakers did their best to showcase what’s special about their wines.”
A number of local artisans will be selling at the market as well, including Archie Liggett Jewelry, Sassy Pants Sweets & Treats, Southern Bliss Boutique, Gardner’s Wisconsin Cheese, Granny Kim’s, Endless Dawn Designs, Wildwood Bee Company, and more, the press release said.
Wild Blue Yonder band will perform as well. Cruisin’ Cuisine, Brick Oven Bus Pizza, and Gelato Brothers food trucks will also be on hand, and the Melton Lake pavilion will be opened with sanitized tables for eating.
Indoor restrooms are on site, and portables will be near the park entrance.
“Tennessee is a great place to grow many varietals of grapes,” said James R. Riddle, president of the Appalachian Region Wine Producers, which is producing the event as a way to showcase the region’s wines. “While many farms struggle to make ends meet, a vineyard can be profitable and a way to keep a family farm in production. We want to thank everyone for supporting local Tennessee agriculture by drinking local, Tennessee wine.”
Nine Lakes Winemaker’s Market is presented by the Appalachian Region Wine Producers, and sponsored by Explore Oak Ridge, Grayson Subaru, Mini of Knoxville, Slamdot, and other business partners, the press release said.