Kix Brooks’ Vineyard Exudes Good Taste
As Brooks & Dunn fans well know, Kix Brooks is more than a guitar slinger in a cowboy hat. In addition to burning up the charts with Ronnie Dunn, the Louisiana native also has a steady radio gig as host of 'American Country Countdown' and is part owner of Arrington Vineyards, a hilltop winery that is becoming one of middle Tennessee's most popular destinations.
"It's been extremely successful, and we're having a lot of fun with it," Brooks tells The Boot of the winery he co-owns with John Russell, Kip Summers and Fred Mindermann. "We found a great piece of property, and it sounded like a wonderful opportunity to me. I knew we'd have fun with it."
Brooks and pals opened the winery in 2005 in Arrington, Tenn., a picturesque community south of Nashville.
"Part of the reason for doing this winery in Williamson County is that there is a real sophisticated audience here," Brooks explains. "A lot of people have been to Napa and have seen a winery operation, so if we were going to do it right -- and since we were the only game in town -- we really needed to do a first class operation. Fortunately, the investment has really paid off, and people are really pleased at the quality of everything we're doing."
Arrington offers free wine tastings and has a gift shop where visitors can purchase wine, cheese, wine glasses, chocolate truffles (the perfect compliment to their excellent raspberry wine) and other assorted goodies. There's also a trophy case in the tasting area where fans can get an up close look at some of the awards Brooks has collected over the years during his run as half of country music's most successful duo.
Visitors are encouraged to bring a picnic basket to enjoy the vineyard's outdoor area, which is dotted with picnic tables and a bonfire area. Despite the chill of winter, Arrington has continued to be a popular destination for tourists and locals, curious country music fans and wine connoisseurs.
"The first thing [visitors] find out is everything is free basically in terms of the experience," says Brooks. "It doesn't cost anything to come. You can go to the tasting bar and it doesn't cost a nickel to taste our wines and see if there's anything you like. Obviously, once you do find something you like, you can buy the wine and then you can go outside and it's really fun to see everyone getting in this competition of who has the biggest table spread. People just bring really elaborate picnics and it's a great alternative instead of going to a restaurant and spending a bunch of money."
Music is also part of the Arrington experience. A piano player entertains visitors and, on occasion, the most famous partner as been known to sing a few tunes. "Right around Christmas, I went out there with some friends and we wound up singing some Christmas carols and had a great time," Brooks recalls. "We'll meet out there on the deck playing guitar. We might have a night coming up here before too long where I'll get some songwriter buddies together, and we'll actually advertise it and make more of a deal out of it."
When it comes to Arrington's wines, just what does the country star recommend? "We make 12 different kinds of wine and I can honestly say I like every one of them," he says. "It's a tough question, but I would probably say I'd drink the Syrah and KB 206 more than anything."
After less than four years, the operation has already expanded. "We have a new tasting room downstairs," Brooks reports. "The business grew so fast that there was quite a wait upstairs in the tasting bar, so we kind of duplicated our upstairs tasting bar downstairs."
Brooks acknowledges his celebrity lends the business a certain cache, but says once people visit Arrington Vineyards it's the quality of the wines and the enjoyable experience that bring them back again. "It's just a really nice alternative and a great experience for people who are first learning to get into wine," he says. "It's a great way to see how tasting works and for people who do have experience with wine, I think what we do is competitive to anything I've ever seen in Napa. So it's a fun, different thing for Middle Tennessee."