How to Improve on a Firefly-Lit Summer Evening in Eastern Tennessee? Just Add Champagne

Krug Champagne has teamed with the luxury retreat Blackberry Farm to make Smoky Mountain summer evenings even sweeter.

How to Improve on a Firefly-Lit Summer Evening in Eastern Tennessee? Just Add Champagne

Blackberry Farm’s master gardener John Coykendall takes a turn behind the Garden Bar.

Photo by Cerutti + Draime/courtesy of Krug Champagne

For the 2019 summer season at Blackberry Farm, an artfully rustic bar beside the property’s working farm gives guests of the mountain resort a nightly taste of alfresco effervescence.

The garden, a five-acre swath of rich Appalachian soil, is regarded as sacred ground by chefs, gardeners, and food lovers. For this organic parcel of land is where master gardener John Coykendall raises the vegetables and flowers he coaxes from heirloom seeds he and his acolytes travel the world to collect. And this garden is where executive chef Cassidee Dabney and her team seek inspiration and ingredients for the James Beard Foundation–nominated cuisine her kitchens turn out, three meals a day, seven days a week.

And now this is also where Blackberry Farm’s lucky guests can gather at nightly happy hours, as well as at lunches and dinners served on long tables set out under trees, to taste the complex champagnes that Krug creates, including the most recent edition, the 168th (or 168ième, en français), released this spring.

The new edition is the reason for this delightful fuss down on the farm. Every year, Krug’s cellar master, Eric Lebel, creates a new numbered edition of Krug NV Grand Cuvée. He draws here and there from a selection of up to 120 wines from the past 10 years of production from the family’s vineyards. He blends the wines to create a distinctive taste that transcends that of a sparkling wine derived from a single plot or from a single year’s grapes. The results are harmonious champagnes that pair gracefully with food. To celebrate this characteristic, Krug chooses a single ingredient every year to showcase as a partner for its wines. In 2019, the modest pepper takes center stage.

Krug’s champagne pairs nicely with summer in eastern Tennessee.

Krug’s champagne pairs nicely with summer in eastern Tennessee.

Photo by Ann Shields

For the summer menus at Blackberry Farm, the garden and kitchen staffs have conspired to create dishes that reflect and riff on all types of pepper. The collaboration has resulted in a plot planted with rows of seven types of peppers, from Appalachian natives like Doe Hill to Hungarian fehérédes paprika, from Oaxacan chile de agua to fiery sarit gat from Kosovo. And over in the kitchen at the Barn at Blackberry Farm, the experimentation with peppers is ongoing—fast-pickled peppers are tossed with wilted garden greens then placed atop a generous dollop of butter-fueled grits. Pooled prettily on the plate beside a perfectly grilled slice of pork shoulder, chili oil and yogurt add a twang and hum to each bite.
While any season brings plenty of good-enough reasons to plan a visit to this extraordinary eastern Tennessee property, this summer’s promise of the Garden Bar—delivering golden bubbles between colorful and fragrant gardens and shade-dark woods—makes right now the time to book a stay at Blackberry Farm.

The pop-up Krug Garden Bar at Blackberry Farm will be available to guests of Blackberry Farm for happy hour and guest lunches and dinners through mid-September 2019. Click here for more information about Blackberry Farm.

In these quiet days leading up to her Powerball win, Ann works as a freelance travel editor and writer. A fan of literature, museums, history, high-minded cinema, and bad television, Ann lives in New York with her husband and two teenaged children. She likes road trips, local bars, getting lost, and laughing, so Ireland ranks high on her list of favorite places.
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