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More WataugaLakeMagazine articles:

The Butler Museum

Learn how and why Watauga Lake was formed and how the citizens of "Old Butler" Tennessee were changed forever. . . .

A Kayaker's View

See Watauga Lake up-close from a Kayak

Watauga Lake Triathlon

Swim over 1,000 yards in a deep lake, race in your bike over 21 miles through the mountains, THEN... run 5 miles ...

Appalachian

The Appalachian Trail skirts Watauga Lake and crosses it at the Dam ...

Blue Hole Falls

Just a short drive from the lake, near Elizabethton, Blue Hole Falls is a beautiful set of waterfalls ...

Pioneer Landing

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Watauga Dam

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Jonesborough TN

Home of the International Storytelling Festival ...

Iron Mountain Inn

See this beautiful lodge with breathtaking views ...

Rat Branch Boat Ramp

This is the westernmost boat ramp on the lake ...

Watauga Point

This beautiful park is great for picnics, boating and swimming ...

The Carter Mansion

Where Tennessee history started. Learn about the Carter family ...

Doe River Gorge

See the beautiful gorge and ride the rails where the Tweetsie Train traveled ...

Gray Fossil Site

A spectacular fossil site discovered not long ago ...

Colonel Roderick Butler

Learn about the man for whom the town of Butler was named ...

Sugar Hollow Retreat

See this spectacular mountain retreat ...

Fish Springs Marina

This beautifully situated marina offers many services to lake boaters ...

Watauga Lake Winery: A Sneak Preview

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All photos and illustrations by Pat Johns ©2012
All Rights Reserved
See links to article references at the end of the article.
December 2012
Watauga Lake Tennessee Winery

Wineries - they're everywhere. And now Watauga Lake has it's own, complete with a vineyard.

When you think of wineries do you think of elementary schools? Well, Linda and Wayne Gay did. They purchased the former Dry Run Elementary School when they first moved here from Florida to use as storage of remaining inventory from their Florida business. This year they emptied it, restored and remodeled the building and set up the public face of their Watauga Lake Winery business.

 

Watauga Lake Tennessee Winery

Several years ago they built a home overlooking the lake modeled on Tuscan villas and planted a few grape vines. Then more grape vines. And more. Then they began to sell their grapes. Today, their property with 3,500 grape vines is named Villa Nove Vineyards.

Recent changes in state laws allow wineries called Farm Wineries to grow grapes for their wines, give them to a licensed winery for production and bottling and then the growers may offer tastings and sell their wines. Watauga Lake Winery is, however, one of the fully licensed wineries.

According to Linda Gay:

"Our winery is a fully licensed winery-- both state and federal. We fall under the agricultural licensing as well-- as do all food
producers in TN.  Wine is considered a food processing/ food manufacturing enterprise! We would [also] be able to produce wine for a farm winery using that vineyards fruit."

Winery owners like Linda and Wayne learn that the cost of producing wine as a Farm Winery are too high and that being a fully licensed winery will help them in the marketplace.

Watauga Lake Tennessee Winery

On November 1 of this year, the winery building was opened to visitors. Their posted hours this November and through December 29 are Thursday, Friday and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. They will open again on April 4, 2013.

The Gays have had a big response to their first events, which have paired wine tastings with meals catered from local restaurants. Wayne said that their visitors have included not only people excited to purchase a locally-made wine but also people happy to see their old elementary school restored and open.

The Mountain City Elementary School website (see link below) gives a brief history of the Dry Run Elementary school:

       "Around 1950 Mountain City School, Butler, and Dry Run were built with T. V. A. funds. The other communities in Johnson County wanted equal improvements to all schools in the county. Studies proved that consolidation improved the schools. In 1952 six elementary schools were built to consolidate the one and two-room schools. Thirty-two schools were closed."

The Dry Run Elementary School closed in 1989 and the students were moved to Neva Elementary, part of a further consolidation.

2013 will be their first full year of Watauga Lake Winery operation and wine sales. For more information check their website at Villa Nove Vineyard website or call at (423) 768-3633.

The old gym and some of the winery art and gifts:

Watauga Lake Tennessee Winery Watauga Lake Tennessee Winery

Gift shop and tasting room:

Watauga Lake Tennessee Winery

The remodeled kitchen and the school hallway:

Watauga Lake Tennessee Winery Watauga Lake Tennessee Winery

The school dedication sign and the entrance to the tasting room:

Watauga Lake Tennessee Winery Watauga Lake Tennessee Winery

Christmas at the Watauga Lake Winery:

Watauga Lake Tennessee Winery