I love this kind of story for several reasons. First and foremost, it’s heartening to see some our most precious buildings being returned to their original glory and preserved for future generations. We’ve lost a lot and it’s nice to win a round now and again. Second, I love to return to the site of a previous story that held promise and show that promise as it comes to fruition – in this case about ten months later.
I first wrote about Linn Slocum and her ambitious project ten months ago. She’d determined that she would move Blue Slip Winery from Jackson Avenue into the Southern Railway Station. That being, apparently, too simple a chore, she decided to purchase the entire building, use much of it for event space and incorporate a little railway museum while she was at it.
She took me around the building and showed me the old floors that were coming uncovered as the workers removed carpet and carpet glue. We speculated about an arch brick design that seemed to imply a door had once been in place where it existed no more. She showed me the sad drop ceilings that were covering the original spectacular ceiling. Honestly, it was an overwhelming task.
Ten months later, the building is in spectacular shape. The floors, ceilings, fireplaces, light fixtures, banisters and stairs are all beautiful and restored completely. I think the photographs show the beauty of the building. Some of it has been converted to processing, fermenting and bottling for the wines. All wines sold on the premises are made on site. The grapes are all harvested in Tennessee. Set in the historic Southern Railway Station, it would be hard to have deeper roots in our area.
The festivities began with music outside as the crowd gathered. Local dignitaries took turns saying a few words. Mayor Brown expressed pleasure that the downtown revitalization has spread toward Magnolia. Representative Joe Armstrong spoke of changes in the laws in recent years that have made businesses such as this one a possibility.
Our mayors were a study in contrasts. After speaking about the downtown development expansion in every direction, Mayor Rogero pointed out that downtown citizens could come have a few drinks and then walk home without the worry of driving. Mayor Burchett then pointed out the irony that he was even present given that he was “likely the only teetotaler up here.” Mayor Rogero later purchased a bottle and proudly displayed it for me to take a photograph.
The primary tasting room is more beautiful than the space the winery occupied on Jackson, which I thought to be quite an attractive space in its own right. Bottles and wine-related accessories are displayed throughout the room. Humorous sayings and gift baskets are available for purchase. The event rooms are split between floors and vary in sizes and are available for all manner of private events, including weddings and receptions.
There will also be other, public events, such as the one scheduled for tonight from 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM. Titled Wine and Canvas, it claims to be, “the painting class with cocktails.” I mean, what could go wrong, right? It actually sounds like fun. I’m sure there will be other similar events to follow.
An attractive bar is set up along one side of the room, from which one may sample wines, order a five dollar glass or purchase a bottle. They have twelve red wines, nine white wines and four fruit wines. You can find a complete list here. Prices range from $11 a bottle to $17 a bottle.
The tasting room is open seven days a week, as is the railway museum (which includes the very cool door pictured above – it opens in the middle and slides in both directions). Hours are 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM Monday through Thursday, 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM Friday and Saturday and Noon to 5:00 PM on Sunday.
It’s worth the stroll just over the bridge at the end of the 100 block and around the corner just to see the building. The winery is a very nice bonus. It sounds like a good stop on a First Friday or any time you’d like to see what’s cooking – or fermenting – in the east Tennessee wine world. It’s Knoxville’s first winery and Tennessee’s first urban winery and something of which we all should be proud.