The Story of Tennessee's Oldest Winery
Before Prohibition outlawed the sale of alcohol, Tennessee was one of the leading states in the country for grape production. Today, grape production in the state is on the rise, and Frederick and Rhonda Moody’s expansive family farm provides a wide range of microclimates, elevations, exposures and soil types, resulting in truly distinctive wines.
The Moodys also have a beef cattle operation along with other livestock and a large apiary. They produce Sawbriar Honey and occasionally wild berry jams, jellies, and traditional country hams.
Frederick and Rhonda bought the winery from his aunt and uncle, Gertie and Butch Campbell, who had owned the winery for 17 years. It was important to Gertie and Butch that a family member carried on with the winery once they retired.
Continuing a History of Winemaking on the Cumberland Plateau
In the same time-honored tradition, Highland Manor Winery has been creating its award-winning local wines for over three decades, warranting its unique distinction as Tennessee’s oldest licensed winery.
In a way, Frederick is continuing a family tradition that dates back to his grandfather. Decades ago, during Prohibition, Gertie Campbell’s father, Dave Smith (Frederick’s grandfather) was a bootlegger. The proceeds from his profession helped to clothe and feed his nine children. Since Fentress County is a dry county, anyone wanting a drink had to purchase alcohol from a bootlegger.
The Smith old home place had a small cellar to keep beer cool and the uninsulated walls served as the whiskey “warehouse.” Knot hoes in the inner walls of the kitchen and stairs served as the access to the whiskey stores. The walls were stacked with untaxed whiskey. Once, during a raid, the police entered the house and proceeded to knock on the walls until they heard the bottles rattling. Someone had ratted him and his warehouse out!
The Winery's Dedication to Quality
Our winemaker Bill Tinch constantly adapts to the rhythms of nature, the readiness of the vineyards and the evolution of the individual wines. While the vineyards provide the consistent character of the fruit, our winemaking staff provides the invaluable experience. The winemaker’s work is constant and crucial to the winery, topping the barreled wines to minimize air contact as they develop, monitoring and measuring the young wines as they progress.
With decades of experience in the vineyard, we have the expertise to hand-select only the best grapes for our wines, giving us total control of our wine production. This careful and deliberate process allows us to produce rich, complex wines that showcase a truly robust sense of place.
Our wines have been honored by critical acclaim and awards. Noted wine critic Coleman Andrews specifically cited our non-vintage white tables wine as one of the top finds in the country.
Committed to continuing the winemaking tradition in Tennessee
Today, the next generation is continuing this legacy, making Highland Manor a must-visit Tennessee winery. We welcome visitors to stay a while, taste our wines and enjoy our gorgeous vineyard and blueberry patch.