• Oh so fine, That Blackberry wine!

    Oh so fine, That Blackberry wine!

    During this season I found myself standing out on the winery property enjoying a bounty of wild blackberries. That flavor took me back in time to every occasion in my life that I happened into one of mother nature’s berry patch’s. It raises your heart beat, you breath a little faster and your mouth starts to water in anticipation and then….you pop a handful of dark juicy fat Blackberries into your mouth, mmmm berry nirvana. Sometimes I think I should have been a bear!

    So you say, what is all this talk about ? We all know Blackberries are yummy. Wild or store bought they are great to eat. This is what you may not know, their great for you! They contain Vitamins A, C, Iron, Calcium, Dietary Fiber, Protein, low in Sugar, low in sodium. Studies show blackberries have one of the highest antioxidant contents per serving of any food tested as published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2006 . This means that regular consumption of blackberries may have a positive impact on health, athletic performance and disease risk. Blackberries have also been shown to have beneficial health effects in the fight against cancers of the GI tract.
    After learning all of this about blackberries and loving blackberries and finding my self in a land full of blackberries what is a boy dressed in winemakers clothing supposed to do ? Make blackberry wine of course!

    That is exactly what we have done here in the winery at Natchez Hills. A totally handcrafted country wine. Made from 100 % Tennessee Blackberries from local berry patches. It has that wonderful sweetness that turns into a mouth watering tartness then on to an ultra clean finish. Just like a mouth full of blackberries, because it is just that. A mouth full of all natural blackberries from the wilds Tennessee. 

    This wine is in the soon to be released category and is way worth any wait you have. A true must try, don’t be fooled by berry wine you have tried in the past 100 % blackberries makes a real difference.

    Enjoy your Holiday Season, love your family and friends and try to treat everyone with a bit of kindness and respect. You will feel good and it will come back to you.

    Enjoy Life, it’s the Best !

    John P. Susi

  • Kenny Durham "Remembering John Denver" on October 12, 2013!

    I usually do not write anything that goes into this newsletter. I let everyone else do their part. I wanted to talk today about Mr Kenny Durham. I first met him three years ago at the bed and breakfast. His look was very much like Wild Bill Cody. I knew him as an entertainer who played out at Keg Springs once or twice a month. I knew Kenny had a great voice. My husband Jim told me Kenny came to him and told him about a show he used to put on a few years ago. The show is a tribute to the late John Denver. I was skeptical about it at first. I did not know how a John Denver Tribute show would go over here and to be honest I did not know if I would enjoy it. Jim was quite sure it would be good and made the date. The day of the show Kenny showed up in his garb and looked rather dapper, I must say. He has a sweet gentleness about him when you get to talking to him. He and his wife rescue quite a few animals around Lewis County. The show began and I swear he sounded like an angel. If I did not like John Denver before I sure as heck love him now. Kenny’s tribute is a beautiful story about John and with each song he sang he had a story. What a show that was. I was mesmerized all through it. I did not want to miss one song. I would love to invite every one of you who love great music to come out and check Mr. Durham out. Thanks for listening.

     - Karen Odom (Owner of Natchez Hills Vineyard)
  • Cause, I heard it through the grapevine

    It’s that time once again radio listeners, Brought to you by our sponsors “Ole Calcutta Castor Oil Company and Natchez Hills Vineyard”  And Now, He’s out of the grape cave and into the sunshine. Look up into the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s John the Wineman…….No no no, it’s a bird ! Yes, a bird…In an earlier news letter we talked about growing grapes. I went over soil conditions, selection of the area, the elevation-changes, drainage, SUNSHINE !  The real basics of starting a vineyard.

    At this point you have spoken with the nursery that provided your vines. You have retained ALL of that information and applied it to your vineyard. Remember your working on the development of a vineyard, it takes time. Try your best to not be bummed out because your vines have small stick wood or branches. It will take a few years to give you the trunk wood we all know and love. Plus remember that your grape quality will start coming into it’s own  at that 3,4,5 year old point. As they become older and more established and remain healthy your vine can develop into great vines.  Things you need to deal with when farming your land, critters and vermin of all kinds. One of those problematic critters is BIRD’s. The problem is that birds are a good thing, but at the same time they are a bummer to the fruit.

    Try hanging foil plates, they need to be able to swing, sway,  jump around in the breeze. Hang high and low, it works good with birds up high and small critters down low. It’s the flashing of light and sound the scares them. And it’s non-toxic too !

                                                Insect damage ( I guess everybody loves them green’s)

    Another one of those evils out to get your goodies, BUGS….Aaarrgghh!!    the bugs are coming!
    There is NO eradication of the bugs. Anything you could apply to do that is not something you want to ingest in your food or wine. Nor do you want to start loading up your soil with a heavy chemical load, Not a nice thing for the future of the planet ! Remember those birds? They love bugs !

    Losses from pests will not be bad if you at least try to control the problem. In farming the greater loss comes from the human factor, seeing it in a field and taking it. With the small operations most of you will have, research natural ways of dealing with insects, mildew, mold, ground bourn bugs and critters.

    This years crop is looking great TRAMINETTE   and MERLOT

    It’s never easy to farm a piece of dirt no matter what the crop is. You won’t make a boat load of money growing grapes, but your connection to the land, nature and the reward of your efforts is what makes you rich.

    The 2013 grape crop here at Natchez Hills is moving forward at a brisk pace. We are having a week or so of un-seasonal cool weather, day and night. Lets slow down the rain and things will be good. The cool conditions are a pleasant break and will help slow down ripening helping to build the sugar’s within the grape and making for more even ripping of each cluster. We are raising the canopy at this point to allow the sun and air to get into the clusters. It’s all about ripening and sugar development at this point. Harvest is closing in !

                                                      Riding the rows checking the grapes

    Enjoy !
    John Susi
    Wine Maker
  • Sangria On The Trace

    It’s another beautiful Tennessee summer and America’s number one holiday is upon us so PAR-TAE America!

    Yes it is true, even winemakers enjoy other beverages, a cold beer or great single malt, even a solo cup of some fresh Sangria. No laughing!  Once I learned that Sangria could be more than the bath tub punch we made as….young adults, it became a challenge to always mix it up and make it more my own. So here is a basic foundation for sangria, remember that you can change it up by changing ingredients. The wine, the fresh fruit, the spirits, use ginger ale or not, maybe try cranberry juice or pink lemonade. Think outside of the box….or the punch bowl!  Just like making wine it’s all about the choices you make, so pick your flavors well.
    • 1 Bottle red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Shiraz, it’s your choice!)
    • 1 Lemon cut into wedges
    • 1 Orange cut into wedges
    • 1 Lime cut into wedges
    • 2 Tbsp sugar
    • Splash of orange juice or lemonade
    • 2-3 Shots of gin or triple sec
    • 1 Cup of raspberries or strawberries (fresh is the best, but frozen will work)
    • 1 Small can of diced pineapples (with juice) pineapple can be overpowering, be carful!
    • 2 12oz cans of ginger ale (Buffalo Rock or Vernor’s they are very spicy, both my fav’s)
    Pour wine into a large punch bowl or pitcher and squeeze the juice wedges from the lemon, orange and lime into the wine. Toss in the fruit wedges, pineapple, be sure to remove the citrus seeds. Then add sugar, orange juice and what ever spirit you pick. Chill overnight.

    Add ginger ale, all berries and fresh fruit slices just before serving. Remember, Sangrias are at their best when chilled overnight. That being said lets talk about ice, it’s warm, Cold drinks are the order of the day. No one likes watered down beverages…..Arf !  So chill your Sangria as much as you can and sparingly add ice to each glass.

    Some folks use club soda to add carbonation to Sangria, I never do. I use soda, ginger ale, lemon-lime, Sun Drop, Hansen’s Natural Soda’s etc. I’m not found of adding water with no flavor just for the bubbles. It cuts my other flavors down.

    A few options:

    WINE: Mix up your wine choices to meet your desires, Red-White-Sweet-Dry, go for it.
    Most important of all, the wine is of a quality you would serve your friends or your boss….

    SPIRITS: Try using Grand Marnier or Brandy, Vodka, Rum or even Ever-Clear.
    Did someone say shine? You could, but I wouldn’t know about that!

    FRUIT: Blueberries, Kiwi, Peaches, Pomegranate, Apricots, Watermelon, Grapes
    Still keep the citrus fruits as a base for that bright acidity and freshness then add your other fruits to taste.

    ADD ON’S:  Cinnamon sticks, Cloves, Fresh Sliced Ginger Root, Allspice, think about it and try something else you enjoy.

    THE KIDS: Drop all the booze, replace that volume of liquid with more soda, fruit juice or lemonade, float sliced fruit and serve the kids!

    Make up a batch of  “Natchez Sangria”, you better have enough stuff to make a second batch, sit back and watch the sun go down on the trace. Dose it get any better….I don’t think so…

    I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday weekend. Enjoy your families and friends.
    Let’s all be safe and sane out on the road ways and know when to say when!

    Happy Fourth of July!

    John Susi
    Wine Maker
  • Is Country Still Cool?

    By Diane Untz, Founder of Nashville Unleashed

    As I watched the funeral of George Jones, it stirred my soul to see the legendary impact of his career. Today’s Artists that dominate country radio take a lot of heat in comparison. Many complain that it just isn’t country music anymore. Yet, country radio remains the most popular in the format. I do miss individuality on radio. I mean, how many songs can we possibly hear about tailgates and back roads? Enough Already! But there is still some lyrical depth on today’s radio and there are great Artists out there who do tackle some pretty serious subjects. Maybe it’s no longer “traditional”, but with the vast musical influences of the 70’s and 80’s, the sonic evolution was inevitable. And granted, these are hard times, so we do need fun songs to sing along with and get our minds off our worries. Not every song on radio needs to be as masterfully crafted and as deep as “The Dance”. But for the listeners who are disappointed in today’s content, and pine for the good ole days of radio, I think we need to ask some hard questions. “Are we are reaping what we’ve sown as a society?" and "Is it simply being reflected back to us in the music?” In our efforts to make our children's lives easier, they haven’t had to work as hard for things. In a “sex sells” media world, it makes sense it would find it's place on the current charts. And even though we enjoy shows like “American Idol”, no matter how naturally talented someone is, it does send the message that you can actually be catapulted to fame in front of millions without necessarily having to pay your dues for 10 years first. Is this where some of the reverence could be lacking? It's hard to pinpoint. But I have to laugh a little because I know every generation feels that the next one is going to hell in a hand basket. 

    To Find Out More About Diane & Nashville Unleashed Please Visit

  • Letter From The Winemaker

    Moving into History!

    You all know me by now, always a bit of a different perspective. Lets say you have some wine knowledge; you do a good job when choosing a bottle at the store. You know about spirits, what you like and don’t and the drinks you like to make. You even know about beer, that’s an entire article or four all on its own. So when asked what should we try this summer to change things up a bit, I say try Mead!

    Yes, Mead, Honey Wine! A beverage that is sooo old and majestic that in congers images of castles and kings. Village pubs filled with bearded men all of them fueled by mead. In some strange barbaric manly man kind of way it all was perfect time. But the reality is this beverage goes back. Far back, say more than 40,000 years give or take a couple of years. Nomadic people migrated out of the African brush and into the Mediterranean. Taking with them the essentials of life. One of those things was HONEY!
    First understand that the modern Honeybee has been dated back to over 1 million years ago so they have been on the job doing all the same things they do today for ages. What no one knew back in the day was that the bee’s were helping to create wild indigenous yeast and honing then into the wild yeast strains we know today. Now there’s a lot of science and a millenia of time for all of that to happen but it did. A matter of fact the wild yeast that we find in the vineyard in 2013 are direct descendents of the old world wild yeasts. If you love checking out history, research mead, it has very deep roots in the history of man.

    Honey wine, if you think about it, it’s perfect for the job of fermentation. It has great aromas, depth of flavor, 3 or 4 types of natural sugars. All the stuff that a hungry yeast cell lives for. It’s a very romantic sounding thing…Honey Wine!

    I would go to my local wine shop and see what they have in the way of mead. You may need to look in more than one or two shops to find some.  Be sure to ask questions of the wine manager, some will be made sweet and remain sweet, others will be less sweet, you can even find them bone dry (very high alcohol). Then there are specialty meads, such as Payment: honey, grapes or grape juice, Cyder: honey, apple juice or cider, Melomels: honey, berries, spices. Lets not forget my pick for a summer surprise around the BBQ, carbonated mead, it will be lighter than regular mead and quite refreshing on a warn Saturday afternoon.

    Remember that you will find a light honey flavor in meads, they should have a great nose, nice full body in your mouth (unless the alcohol is real high) Should you try to make some mead at home shop your local roadside stands for local honey’s from different crop sources, ig: clover, wild flower, sourwood etc. They all have very unique flavor profiles even if slight. Fine honey is an art all in its self.

    Hopefully I have opened your mind to a new world of wine experience, that is part of the fun of enjoying and learning about wine, all wines, be them grape, fruit or honey. I will be writing more about country wines in up coming articles.
    Remember we are all here, until we aren’t. Enjoy your life!

    John Susi