From Vine to Wine
Bybee Family Lives Dream of Owning Vinyard, Winery |
For once upon a time world travelers, love can take you a lot of places, even the rolling hills of Bybee. Laura Poland came back to Tennessee after a stint in Japan where she was an English and Spanish teacher. Poland returned when her father asked for her help to come back to her childhood home where he had purchased a grape vineyard adjacent to the property. Poland’s father, Dr. Michael Hood, a well known practioner in Newport and leader in the Newport Theatre Guild, invested and had the idea of turning the land into a big time vineyard for producing wine. Poland attended Walters State Community College Culinary School in Sevierville while she, her family and neighbors began initial work on the prepping the vineyard land. While at school she met Gene Poland and the two began dating. Laura showed Gene the vineyard, which piqued his interest, and soon he became an integral part in its construction. The two were so entwined to the project that Gene proposed to Laura by leaving a trail of daffodils from their house into a circle in the vineyard where he popped the question. He later married her in the vineyard, where each spring a circle of daffodils stills blooms from the spot of the proposal. The honeymoon was short lived as the work of the vineyard and the two’s ambition kept calling. To help speed up an otherwise grueling and long process, the two used an Australian technique of ripping the vineyard ground that will allow for the grape vines roots to have more room and thus making for 10 years worth of growth in only three. The hard work will pay off this year, as the Poland’s will be able to pull grapes from the vines and start producing wine. Gene, who is almost through with achieving a certification in commercial wine making at the University of California Davis, has strategically picked grape varieties to lend the vineyard more success. The vineyard has about six grape varieties including muscadines, bell blancs, marquette and a hybrid Seyval Blanc, which is one of the most popular for wines in England. The Polands said hybrids are the best for growing in the area because they can endure the humidity and frost conditions. The Polands have taken many extra steps to make their product unique by producing grapes as organically as possible. Gene adds a fungus to the grapes that gives the plants extra micronutrients and refrains from using many herbicides used in other vineyards. The vines are purposefully grown on high stalks leaving more room for the leaves to grow, which adds to the grapes nutrition and helps make them more ripe, Gene said. Along with the work in the vineyard, the duo is also putting the final touches on their on site winery that will be finished and opened in March. The winery will allow the couple to produce their own wine from the grapes, complete with everything needed to do so; a crusher, press, barrel room and bottling machine. All of their equipment is among the latest technology in the wine manufacturing field, much of it imported from Europe. The winery will be among the very few in the world that produces through a triple fermentation process. Gene said he takes the grapes through three processes alcoholic, sugar and dorastralaspora (enhance grape to give it a more big mouth fill) that helps create an overall better flavor of wine. The couple made sure that the winery was built to be as energy efficient as possible. It comes with a tasting room for visitors and customers to sample their product. Laura said the winery also includes many personal touches from her family’s property that is included in the winery, like the black walnut table in the tasting room cut from a tree on the property and vines from the vineyard that decorate the must visit bathroom (the toilet is from Japan and has a heated seat feature). Laura said the goal for Goodwater Vineyards, named so after the road which it is located on, is to become a successful agritourism spot. The Polands just began working on building an amphitheatre on top of the hillside above the winery that will be able to hold events like concerts and food festivals to attract guests to the vineyard. Another goal will be adding a gazebo near a pond down from the vineyard and adding more landscaping to turn it into a prime location for special occasion like weddings and parties. Through all their projects, the 30 something couple have rolled up their own sleeves to do the work, with the help of their family members and a few friends like Laura’s uncle, Steve Bush, who helps in all facets of the vineyard. Goodwater Vineyards is open for tours. Anyone interested in a tour can contact the Polands by emailing email@example.com or calling 423 608 3249.