Tucked away on the Southside of Chattanooga is DeBarge Urban Winery.
It may be in a more urban setting, but it has all the charm and offerings of a countryside winery. To be honest, I didn’t know it was there until I made plans to go with some coworkers a couple weekends ago. But I love visiting wineries, and I was beginning to think there weren’t that many around here. Fortunately that’s not the case. Living in North Carolina had me spoiled, where I had five wineries within 10 miles.
Wine-making started as a hobby for owner Ray DeBarge. In fact, he made his first bottle of wine as a teenager. It eventually grew into a passion that has since evolved into a business that makes many Chattanoogans and visitors happy. The Southside winery has been in operation for four years. They took their time perfecting their wines and starting to distribute; now they’re up and running and ready to make their mark in Chattanooga.
Here are the top 5 reasons you should add DeBarge Winery to your to-do list in Chattanooga.
5. It’s local. Call me a wine snob, but I’ll take a local wine over a bottle from the grocery store almost any day. Supporting local business is always a good move, too. Southerners love to keep the local economy blooming.
4. There are two locations. Yes, TWO spots to enjoy DeBarge wines. The urban winery is in Chattanooga, and the vineyards are in Lafayette, Ga., just 45 minutes down the road. The vineyards grow the grapes and send them up to the Southside urban winery for wine-making. I also hear the vineyards are a great spot for a picnic in the spring and summer.
3. Super friendly and knowledgable staff. Whatever question I had, the two people working there could answer it to the fullest of their ability. And they didn’t mind answering the same question multiple times.
2. It’s affordable. $5 for a 4-wine tasting is pretty cheap. And they don’t mind if you go for more than one round of tasting. They offer 12 wines for sampling at a time, including dry whites, dry reds, a dry rosé and semi-sweets. I did two rounds of tasting and loved all eight of the wines I sampled. Bottle prices range from $15 to $30, depending on availability and seasonality.
1. The wine is delicious. DeBarge specializes in drier, European-style wine, which is a great contrast to the sweeter wines we’re more used to in the South. Exact wines and blends vary throughout the year, so you might have a different mix each time you visit. Of the eight wines I sipped, the Chardanooga (Chardonel and Cayuga white blend), Cloudland White (Chardonnay, Vidal Blac and Traminette blend) and Oregon Riesling were my favorites. I’m not prejudiced against red wine, though; the Ridge Runner semi-sweet red blend was also wonderful.
Bonus reason: If you want to see the wine-making process up close and personal, DeBarge offers behind-the-scenes tours of their winery, at the Southside urban winery and at their North Georgia vineyards. Another bonus reason: it’s a great venue for special events.
One more bonus reason: You can join their Wine Club to get shipments of wine delivered to your door, and get free tours and information on exclusive events.
Are you convinced yet? I’ll see you at the tasting bar, where I’ll be sipping on some Chardanooga wine. For more information about DeBarge Vineyards, check out their website, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter.
Editor’s Note A version of this post originally appeared on Kate’s blog, A Thought and a Half.