Picture yourself at a 4,200-acre private estate in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains surrounded by lush green scenery with unparalleled luxury at your fingertips. You have arrived at Blackberry Farm where Southern hospitality, gourmet cuisine and cherished experiences await you.
Blackberry Farm is actually a family home that opened its doors to vacationers and foodies about 30 years ago. Since then, the east Tennessee luxury resort has gained accolades from Bon Appetite (#1 Resort for Food Lovers), Travel + Leisure (#1 Resort in the Continental U.S. and Canada) and Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report (#1 Food & Wine Resort in the World), among many others.
Upon entering manicured pastures with backdrops of private cottages, resident guardian llamas – George, Little Joe, Ben and Hoss – will keep a watchful eye while you make your way to the main reception area. Adorned with a burning fireplace and oversized chairs, the space is welcoming and sets the tone for the rest of your stay. Here, you can schedule your daily activities with a private concierge and take a property tour to get your bearings.
A quick ride on a golf cart takes you through meandering streets, stopping at the Main Living Room which is a place to gather, grab a drink, read a book or play games, as the name aptly suggests. This is also where breakfast and lunch are served while guests enjoy a view of the pond and swings hanging from deep-rooted trees. Soaking in views of the Smoky Mountains while sipping lavender tea in a white rocking chair is the perfect way to begin your dream vacation.
After familiarizing yourself with where the spa, restaurant, lounge, chapel, farmhouse and walking trails are, it’s time to retreat to your room. While the farm’s cottages look rustic from outside, their interiors make you feel as if you have stepped into one of the pages of Southern Living magazine. The Blackberry Farm design team creates a warm ambiance with modern American design complemented by regional influences. Classic furniture, heavenly feather beds, sumptuous linens, oversized soaking tubs, personal fireplaces and exquisite in-room wine bars are just a few elements that aid in making your stay memorable.
Blackberry prides itself in being a working farm which means many of the ingredients you see on the menu are sourced from right outside the dining room window. Garden Manager Jeff Ross can be found tending heirloom variety of beans, pickling cucumbers and preserving okra seeds for the next season. Guests are invited to join him and lend a helping hand. He has a deep knowledge of Appalachian farming and can tell you practically anything about origins of cuisines. Ross also likes to cook what he grows and can be found in the kitchen teaching cooking classes. “I like to preserve fresh food when it’s in season and use it to create interesting dishes year round,” he says while breading and frying large capers before adding them to a carefully prepared shaved Brussels sprouts salad with grapes poached in chicken jus.
Guests often say that Blackberry Farm’s breakfast is the best they have ever had. The chefs are easily able to live up to this accolade when they are working with ingredients such as Farmstead cheese and yogurt, fresh eggs, homemade pecan butter, house-made sausage and wild blackberries picked right off the farm. On the premises are also the farm’s bakery, butchery, dairy, creamery, salumeria, honey house and a preservation kitchen where artisanal food products are handcrafted for the restaurant and gift shop.
Blackberry’s impressive wine list reveals a weighted interest in wine styles that complement Foothills Cuisine as well as owner Sam Beall's passion for specific wine-producing regions. Limited editions, vintages and smaller producers are some of the factors considered when introducing a label onto the farm’s menu. The wine cellar located at The Barn is the perfect place to host a wine tasting or a private dinner.
Do not feel guilty while indulging in delicious cuisine and fine wines during this getaway. Blackberry Farm strongly believes in a holistic approach to wellness that focuses on creating rejuvenating environments, nutritious cuisine, pampering spa, as well as a fitness regimen. The proprietors claim, “We recognize fully that things like butter, sugars, cheeses and wine aren’t inherently bad. They’re simply different kinds of energy that, when thoughtfully consumed and balanced, can fuel various levels of exercise and activity.”
Guests can enjoy a Wellness Boot Camp series that include guided hikes, Earth walks, workouts, and yoga and meditation classes with personal trainers. There is series of picturesque trails on the property that calls for exploration and being one with nature. Recover and relax with invigorating exfoliation, four hands massage or hydrotherapy at the Farmhouse Spa. Blackberry’s new Wellness Center and Spa scheduled to open in Summer 2014 will offer even more seasonal, farm-inspired spa treatments, steam rooms, quiet lounges, one-on-one consultation areas, a classroom and a juice bar.
Brian Lee, director of guest relations, maintains that a visit to Blackberry Farm can be designed as a “physically and mentally challenging vacation for the entire family.” What he suggests is that generations of travelers reconnect during one of many outdoor activities offered at the farm such as fly-fishing, clay shooting, canoeing, paddle boarding, kayaking, biking and hiking. Outdoors enthusiasts can pay a visit to the horses at the stables before enjoying a day of horseback riding, fox hunting or simply a romantic horse drawn carriage ride across the countryside.
Ages 10 and up can embark on guided Adventure Quests, Mountain Discovery and Farmstead Life. Practically every interest is organized on the property itself and there is no reason for guests to leave.
Lee also talks about the importance of “learning new skills” while on a holiday. Consider enrolling for unique experiences such as Natural Horsemanship where you can gain a better understanding of the human/horse relationship, Life on The Farm where you can work and observe some of the Farmstead artisans around the property or Day in the Life of a Chef where you can apprentice with one of Blackberry Farm’s esteemed chefs.
The Barn offers a cooking school facility where a number of epicurean events take place throughout the year. Learn to prepare a farm-to-table meal, spend time with a renowned cookbook author, or get inspired by distinguished guests from the culinary and wine world. The food and wine events at Blackberry are rated some of the best in the country.
Blackberry Farm is the perfect hideaway for those looking for a relaxed and indulgent, yet balanced approach to travel. They have created an ideal destination to facilitate the appreciation of modern designs midst natural beauty, rustic cuisine with refined palates, and physical health equalized with spiritual and mental stimulation.
To book your luxury getaway in Tennessee, visit www.blackberryfarm.com or call 865- 984-8166.
Photo credit: beall + thomas Photography