A Weekend Escape to Blackberry Farm

Blackberry Farm is a rural resort in Eastern Tennessee WHERE THE GENERATIONS MEET™ quite literally (read on for more of the inspiring story behind this one-of-a-kind place!). For years, Lolli has encouraged my husband and me to take the time for a couples getaway to this little piece of paradise, and she kindly kept the kids so we could escape for a weekend this summer. It was a welcomed break from the Texas heat, and the experience surpassed our expectations!

If you’re looking for a fall retreat, there are still a few bookings open but not many (lots of guests are “regulars” who book a year in advance!), so click here to check availability if you’re interested in visiting soon. I would love to go back sometime as the leaves change in autumn.

Photo via Covet New York

Welcome to the Farm

Blackberry Farm is a family-owned, 4,200-acre resort in the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee, just outside of Knoxville. Founded more than 40 years ago, what began as the Beall family’s homestead is now a Relais & Châteaux property welcoming guests from around the world with genuine Southern hospitality and an acclaimed food and wine program, including James Beard-Award winning restaurant The Barn, which has become the estate’s hallmark.

Photo via Blackberry Farm

The Main House still stands as the central gathering point for breakfast and lunch, drinks with a view, dinner at The Dogwood restaurant, and a “living” room feel for hanging out over fireside puzzles, reading and board games. It also houses an upscale boutique, featuring special collections by brands Lolli and I love, such as Juliska and MATCH Pewter for the home, as well as leather goods, fine jewelry, clothing accessories and more. Step outside for rocking chairs and picnic tables overlooking spectacular, panoramic sunsets.

The common areas in the Main House feel like home, and it’s where late proprietor Sam Beall grew up. My husband and I met the Bealls through a professional network years ago, and while Sam’s life ended tragically in 2016, his inspiring wife Mary Celeste and their five children still live at The Farm and triumphantly run the operation in honor of his vision and spirit.

The Beall Family in 2014, via Redbook Mag

Sam used to tell his family to “MAKE A GREAT DAY™,” and in the gift store near hotel reception (and online), the resort sells hats, shirts and other items with the tagline, as a tribute to his legacy and with a portion of proceeds benefiting the Blackberry Farm Foundation. It was his oldest daughter’s idea. This is a special place owned and operated by a very special family, y’all. You feel it the whole time you’re there, from every staff member’s friendliness to the scenery’s serenity, and all the details in between. This is where to go for a peaceful pocket of Southern nature combined with best-in-class service and surroundings.

Acccomodations and Activities

Guests can stay in a variety of accommodations, from single suites to five-bedroom mountain homes. Between the gorgeous views and attention to detail, it’s impossible to go wrong when booking a room at Blackberry Farm. We stayed in one of the more “remote” Singing Brook Cottages tucked away on a hillside trail, but the resort provides golf carts for ease of getting to and from the Main House and The Wellhouse spa, and they have Lexus SUVs “on call” for transportation as well.

They stock the minibar with local brews and unique snacks you actually want to try. Another special touch was the greeting of the Farm’s signature pimento cheese and crackers upon arrival to our room. That’s how you know you’re in the South!

Photo via Blackberry Farm

There are hosts of things to do at the Farm, whether you’re on a girls trip, couple’s retreat, or family vacation (We want to go back with the kids sometime for Camp Blackberry!).

Exploring the grounds by hiking on paved paths is a great first activity after hours of travel. Or sit and relax in a rocking chair and just take in the fresh mountain air.

Photo via Blackberry Farm

If you’re an avid hiker, there are miles of trails throughout the property’s thousands of acres of wooded mountains, and over 900 miles of trail in Smoky Mountain National Park just next door. Blackberry Farm offers hiking guides, too, who point out notable flora and fauna, as well as share some history about the area.

Since this resort is nestled in the famous Smoky Mountains, many of the activities center around wellness and appreciation for the natural beauty of the region. In addition to hiking, activity options include everything from horseback riding and kayaking to yoga classes and quaint carriage rides. On our second day at Blackberry Farm, my husband’s activity of choice was fly fishing, while I opted for some spa time and a workout (followed by a green juice!) at The Wellhouse.

Left and right photos via Blackberry Farm

One afternoon, we enjoyed a private wine and cheese tasting and had the chance to explore the Wine Spectator Award-winning cellars with one of The Barn’s esteemed sommeliers. He guided us through an in-depth session to expand our knowledge about wine regions, varietals, producers and vintages, instructing us in the best ways to taste and pair the wines with various cheeses (many of which were made at the Farm!).

Photo via Blackberry Farm

We also signed up for Farmstead Field School, which is a “must” for your first time at Blackberry Farm from what we’ve heard, but it unfortunately rained the morning of our reservation and we weren’t there long enough to reschedule! We did get to meet the Farm’s truffle dogs, though, since they were on an afternoon stroll near our cabin later that day. Speaking of…the gift shop sells truffle dog stuffed animals and I am a Truffle Dog books, which we took home for the boys as souvenirs!

As Blackberry is a working farm, the produce from their gardens are woven into each season’s menu, and the Field School shows you a behind-the-scenes look at the “farm” part of Blackberry Farm. This place embodies “farm to table” at its finest! There are also daily cooking demonstrations, tasting tours, or you can even join the farm’s master gardener for a walkthrough of the heirloom vegetable, flower and herb gardens to see firsthand what may end up on your plate during your stay. Days are casual and active, but don’t forget to dress for dinner!

Left and right photos via Blackberry Farm

Food and Wine

Blackberry Farm offers “foodies” and wine connoisseurs a special Foothills Cuisine® experience through their menus at three restaurants on site. The Farm brings together master chefs, gardeners, and artisans to create an Appalachian experience unique to Blackberry Farm and seasonally specific to the region. Their wine program is one of the broadest and most-renowned in the country with more than 160,000 bottles in the cellar.

The Dogwood restaurant in the Main House is a more casual dining experience with amazing views, but it’s The Barn that’s truly memorable. It is housed in a turn of the century bank-style barn (which was relocated to the site from Pennsylvania!) and offers an elevated, multi-course experience of Blackberry Farm’s cuisine.

Photos via Blackberry Farm

The Barn’s ambiance is set with monogrammed linens, custom china and chairs, and sterling silver, amidst majestic wooden beams and grounded with masculine, plaid carpet. It’s a combination of rustic and reverent. The tasting-menu offers five courses with optional wine pairings, and honestly nothing disappointed, from drinks to dessert!

Don’t forget to go home with some of the Farm’s signature gourmet food items in the gift shop, which offers favorites like their fresh blackberry jam or toasty grain and nut mix. You can also pick up some of the farm’s award-winning cheeses, made on the property by Blackberry Farm’s larder team, for your own cheese platters back at home. They will ship to you as well, and the gourmet treats make great gifts, too!

Photos via Blackberry Farm

Blackberry Farm opened a production brewery in 2011, supplying the Farm with unique, artisan beer brewed in the old world tradition while reflecting the culinary heritage of the South. Take a peek at the map on their website to see if these craft beers are available near you.

Now, if you’re wondering what’s next for Blackberry Farm and the Beall family’s vision, they’ve just unveiled plans for Blackberry Mountain, a luxury mountain retreat and community, with the tagline “a place for generations.” It’s currently under development and will offer another Blackberry-branded adventure, just down the road from the Farm. Sounds like just the kind of place Lolli and me will want to visit in the future!

Thanks for reading! What’s your favorite spot for a weekend retreat? Let us know over on Instagram @lolliandme or leave us a comment on Facebook!

Featured photo via Blackberry Farm
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