Start with superior hospitality and luxury accommodations. Mix with legendary cuisine and libations. And bask in the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
It’s the recipe for a truly delicious vacation at Blackberry Farm and Blackberry Mountain, sister properties in Walland, Tennessee, just 18 miles southeast of Knoxville’s McGee Tyson Airport and 13 miles northwest of Washington. Townsend Entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains Park. Do not look for advertisements or announcements on the sites; word of mouth and media mentions keep both properties heavily booked most of the year.
Andrea Rule, brand manager at Blackberry Mountain, said staying at any of the Blackberry properties is an unforgettable experience.
“Food and wine and a well-made cocktail is definitely the Blackberry experience. This is Southern hospitality at its finest,” she said.
Blackberry Farm dates back to the 1930s, when the main house was built by Chicago businessman Dave Lasier and his wife, Florida, to be their summer home, along with a small guesthouse. According to legend, he was named by Florida Lasier, who hung his silk stockings on a mulberry bramble on the property.
The property was purchased in 1976 by Sandy Beall, founder of the Ruby Tuesday restaurant chain, and his then-wife, Kreis Beall. Soon after, they opened a six-room hostel. In the 1990s, Blackberry Farm was known as a culinary destination, and in 1994 it became a member of the Relais & Châteaux luxury properties association.
The Bealls’ son, Sam Beall, took over management in 2001. After his death in a skiing accident in 2016, his widow, Mary Celeste Beall, joined his stepfather in running the operation.
They added Blackberry Mountain in 2019. It had the unprecedented honor of being named a Relais & Châteaux property before it opened, based on Blackberry Farm’s impeccable reputation.
Blackberry Farm sits on 4,200 rolling acres framed by the Smoky Mountains. There is a creek for fly fishing, a pond for kayaking and paddle boarding, and woods for hiking.
Still a working farm in many ways, the place raises sheep, pigs, chickens and has a friendly donkey named Sally. There is a large vegetable garden where children can dig potatoes and where customers can taste freshly picked tomatoes. The chefs harvest vegetables from the garden and wander through the woods to collect mushrooms, truffles and pine buds for syrup. Award-winning cheeses, jam and meat are produced on site.
Blackberry Mountain is only 7 miles away as the crow flies, but it’s a 20 minute drive, across US 321 and over the winding roads of Chilhowee Mountain.
A 5,200-acre complex, Blackberry Mountain resembles a private national park with woodlands, rivers, streams, waterfalls, trails, and a stone maze. It includes The Valley, a 15-acre park with a freshwater pond and 300-foot speed slides built into the surrounding slope. At the Hub, the mountain’s activity center, there’s a rock climbing wall, yoga loft, spin studio, fitness room, gym, and basketball court. While communing with nature, guests can indulge in sound baths, try their hand at pottery lessons, and test their physique on a ropes course through the trees.
Both properties feature full-service spas, multiple pools, fire pits, and Adirondack chairs overlooking scenic views.
Many guests book their stays for special events, such as seminars presented by chefs and winemakers. There are also concerts; country stars Emmylou Harris and Little Big Town perform regularly.
Each Blackberry property offers approximately 60 accommodations of varying sizes and styles.
Rates for both properties average around $1,700 per night, based on double occupancy, with a three-night minimum stay. The most economical rooms are a queen room in the main house on the farm for $845 per night and a queen room in the caretaker’s cabin on the mountain for $1,395 per night.
This is the price of luxury in a place of breathtaking beauty.
At the farm, rooms in the main house estate allow guests to be in the heart of the action. Cabins and cottages are perfect for romantic getaways. Private homes offer ample space for family vacations or trips with friends.
On the Mountain, there are stone chalets built from mountain rock and topped with grass roofs; houses of different sizes; Custodian cabins made from reclaimed wood; and Treehouses, chic cabins with floor-to-ceiling windows.
Each room is uniquely furnished with selected works of art and books. The rooms are equipped with fireplaces or wood stoves. Pantries and refrigerators are stocked with free snacks and non-alcoholic beverages. Accommodations are equipped with golf carts, though transportation is also available through the property’s Lexus fleet.
The properties have an ever-ready staff of over 1,000, with 400 people at each site and another 200 in corporate and ancillary services.
The world-class cuisine offered at Blackberry properties makes meals, included with accommodation, “the exclamation point of the day”, according to Sarah Chabot, Vice President of Marketing
The main farm house serves breakfast and lunch, then transforms into a dogwood for dinner. The gastronomic gem of the property is The Barn, where gourmet dishes are prepared by Executive Chef Cassidee Dabney, three-time James Beard nominee for Best Chef in the Southeast.
At the Mountain, you can venture to the top of the mountain to dine at the Firetower, which offers 360-degree views of the Smoky Mountains and eastern Tennessee. The mountain’s formal dining venue is Three Sisters, which offers breakfast and multi-course dinners. Sycamore offers lunch and midday snacks.
Craft beers are brewed by the Blackberry company. The Blackberry establishments stock 600 different bourbons, ryes, scotches, and whiskeys, and the farm has an 180,000-bottle wine cellar.
Although there is limited availability for public dining at Blackberry Farm, staff warn “it’s a challenge to get in”.
For those who can’t fight over a reservation, the laid-back Blackberry Brewery in nearby Maryville offers Blackberry craft beers and upscale bar fare. And Blackberry sells some of its products online, in its on-site stores, and at the summer Saturday Farmer’s Market in downtown Maryville.