Retirement Vineyards - Stop Whining and Do It!

By: Gary Ashton

Retirement is a great time to explore and indulge that frivolous hobby that could never really be pursued when you were a career go-getter. Ever fancied to be a vineyard owner and to develop wines that suit your own particular palate?

What a retirement that would be! You would be living in a beautiful home overlooking rows of neatly trimmed vines on your own farm surrounded by green rolling countryside. Your own web site with wine recipes galore that have been researched in your kitchen!

Many people just choose to run it as a hobby and therefore they are the only ones who ever get to savor their wine. Some others grow the grapes and enjoy the land, but sell their produce to a winery.

Nashville, Tennessee, was ranked as the nation's 7th fastest-growing wine region in the USA. There are all kinds of classes, diplomas and willing workers to help you to become a successful vineyard owner if you wish to try it more commercially.

You can take a tour through Tennessee vineyard country this spring (or at any other time!). Within a short distance around Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga and Knoxville there are at least 24 wineries to sample.

If you wish to view the maximum scenic beauty, the vines are in full leaf by the end of April. Grapes form on the vines from June onwards and look enticing just before the September harvest.

Winery gift shops have ample supplies of bottles of wine (Tennessee law says it must be bottled) and also have many other gift ideas with both a local theme and a wine theme.

Wine making is not a new idea in Tennessee. Towards the end of the 1800s many areas were laid to grape. They were often areas that were considered agriculturally unsuitable for other crops. It would appear that Tennessee had found a great cash crop and was well on the road to a whole new lucrative industry.

Prohibition spoiled all that in 1919 and it has only been in the last thirty years that this idea has been revived. Now there is a local society that supports both the amateur and the commercial winemakers and grape growers.

This society grew from a small group of individuals sitting around a kitchen table in 1973; they formed the Tennessee Viticultural and Oenological Society (TVOS).

In 1982 the Tennessee Farm Winegrowers Association (TFWA) was organized to encourage commercial growers and wineries and to support this burgeoning business. Both these societies have informative web pages and, unlike more established wine-growing areas, they are very interested in promoting new 'wannabe' wine makers into Tennessee.

Nashville has just been placed in the revered Forbes Magazine 2008 top ten of the 'Best Metros for Business and Careers'. Forbes's exploration of the American metros does not simply include the business side of starting up in the area; this year the analysis was expanded to include other social criteria.

For instance, Nashville was also rated on its crime rate, workforce quality and availability, cultural opportunities, income growth and job growth as well as net migration into the area.

Nashville was also ranked for the fourth straight year amongst the top 50 American cities in a survey by the Expansion Management Magazine. It was one of the nation's hottest cities for business relocations and expansions.

If you are not convinced after reading all that good stuff about Nashville grape growing, then think of your personal growth. It was the Greek Aristophanes, who asked for a beaker of wine so that he could 'whet his appetite and say something clever!

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