By mtjulietintern

Wilson County welcomed A Toast to Tennessee Wine Festival for the first time Saturday, and event organizers said the event went better than expected.

Saturday marked the 14th year for the event, which is held by the Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber president Mark Hinesley said the venue change to the Wilson County Expo Center from Nashville Shores made a big difference.

“We loved it. The customers loved the climate control and the wonderful staff. They were extremely accommodating,” said Hinesley, who said more than 2,000 people made their way to the event based on early estimates.

“The folks of Wilson County showed up in droves. It overwhelmed all of our resources. We had a tremendous crowd,” he said.

Wineries included Amber Falls Winery & Cellars, Arrington Vineyards, Beachaven Winery, Beans Creek Winery, Cade’s Cove Cellars, Cellar 53 Winery & Vineyards, DelMonaco Winery, Goodwater Vineyards, Grinder’s Switch Winery, Highland Manor, Hillside Winery, Holly Ridge Winery, Keg Springs Winery, Mill Bridge Winery, Mountain Valley Winery, Natchez Hills Winery, Northfield Vineyard, Paris Winery, Pickers Creek Winery, Seven Springs Winery, Sugarland Cellars Winery, Sumner Crest Winery and Wyile Cider.

“We had some great wineries, and the venue could not have been any better. It’s definitely something we can all be proud of,” Hinesley said.

Hinesley said the event saw dozens of people from outside of Wilson County. He said all of the group’s hotel packages sold out, and about 100 people rode the Music City Star to the event.

The proceeds from the train ride will go directly to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  

“Some folks thought it would cause some incidents similar to other events that have been held out there in the past with alcohol, but we had zero incidents,” Hinesley said.

Hinesley said the group is looking forward to the 15th anniversary of the event next year, which will take place the last Saturday in April.

By Xavier Smith

xsmith@lebanondemocrat.com