Blackberry Farm is a place where you instantly feel like a special guest and family at the same time. The service is flawless and authentic. And because it draws in people from all over the South, it's easy to strike up a conversation with just about anybody.
After a quick two-hour flight to Knoxville, I was greeted at the airport and whisked away to Blackberry Farm. Half an hour later, we began to slow as we reached the white-fenced property, and I could hardly contain my excitement.
Since I arrived early, I headed over to the Main House for brunch. Coffee, beignets, eggs, and the most breathtaking view of The Great Smoky Mountains. I followed that up with a swim in The Wellhouse salt water pool, and then grabbed my Field Guide (a watercolor map of the property) and made my way to my cottage: Hummingbird.
Holly Glade Cottage Suite: Hummingbird
I came for the Summer Splash wellness event hosted by Blackberry Farm. There were 12 of us total, and I couldn't have asked for a better group of people to experience Blackberry Farm with. We began with canoeing, hiking, and a walk around Hesse Creek, ending at the Yallarhammer pavilion for a Shafer Vineyards wine dinner. One could get used to this.
Day two began with a lesson on juicing from Crisp Kitchen & Juice, followed by a hike and yoga under the tree canopy. After that, we witnessed a cooking demonstration and enjoyed a delightful lunch of everything we saw being prepared earlier.
Garden Gazpacho - garden greens, avocado and crispy quinoa
Farmstead Groat Bowl - beets, field peas, tea-smoked trout and purslane
Almond Tea Cake - rhubarb, lemon and yogurt
Eighty Four - Albariño - Napa Valley - 2015
Later that afternoon, we packed into luxe Lexus SUVs and paddle boarded around Lake Tellico.
The morning of day three, we had breakfast on the patio and then I broke away from the group for my private shooting lesson. Everyone else went cycling. While that sounded like a productive way to start the day, I was most excited about coming to Blackberry Farm for the shooting, and since it is a three-hour experience, this time slot fit perfectly.
You MUST take a private shooting lesson when you go to Blackberry Farm! The entire experience was wonderful, but shooting was by far my favorite part of the trip.
I do have experience shooting sporting clays, but I know it would be equally as fun for a beginner. Bob was my instructor and he was so helpful. Blackberry Farm owns this private course, which is gorgeous, and you'll get to shoot some beautiful Berretta guns.
I worked up quite the appetite shooting, so imagine my surprise when I met up with the rest of the group and stumbled upon this farm-fresh lunch set up overlooking the mountains. Throughout the stay, no detail was forgotten.
Blackberry & Elderflower - garden cucumber, cheese curd vinaigrette and watercress
Shafer Vineyards - Red Shoulder Ranch - Chardonnay - Carneros - 2011
Hearth Roasted Cauliflower - chanterelle mushrooms, pickled onions and sunflower seeds
Shafer Vineyards - Hillside Select - Cabernet Sauvignon - Stag's Leap District - 2002
North Carolina Mountain Trout - spinach, forest mushrooms and marcona almonds
Shafer Vineyards - Hillside Select - Cabernet Sauvignon - Stag's Leap District - 2008
South Carolina Peaches - oat sticky cake and cashew pistachio mousse
We all met the last morning for brunch (below is the virgin Bloody Mary + Blackberry Mimosa station) before sadly saying good-bye.
The only thing I would have changed about this trip is I would have preferred to stay longer.
Typically, I like short getaways, but Blackberry Farm has a way of sinking in and changing your pace. I returned to Houston refreshed, a few pounds lighter, and inspired to cook + eat more adventurously and with more intention.
While I traveled solo, there were couples celebrating anniversaries, and families with young children (BF has a new summer camp for children). It's really a place everyone can enjoy, and there are so many different activities, you could repeatedly return and it would still be an adventure. You feel a little rustic being outdoors overlooking the mountains, but you also get to sleep in luxury accommodations. The best of both worlds in my opinion.
Thanks to everyone at Blackberry Farm for creating such a special experience at the Summer Splash event!
Photography: Christie McMillan
Sponsored by: Blackberry Farm