History & Heritage
In April 1991 we opened our doors at Stonehaus Winery and eagerly invited our first customers to experience southern wines at their very best. Although this is when the “Stonehaus chapter” started, this was far from the beginning. Stonehaus was steeped in tradition and history well before we starting producing wines here. Stonehaus’s winemaker and visionary is Mr. Fay Wheeler. Many consider Fay to be “the grandfather of Tennessee wine”. He was instrumental in getting the Wine and Grape Act enacted in 1977. This Act permitted a winery to open in any county, wet or dry, providing the grapes were grown in Tennessee (the rule then was 100% of Tennessee grown, but has since been amended to 75%). In 1979, Fay and his wife Kathy and Mr. Robert R. Ramsey and his wife Belle (the current owners of Stonehaus Winery) made Tennessee wine history by starting the first licensed winery in Tennessee, which also happened to be in a “dry” county. Fay and Kathy operated Highland Manor in Jamestown until 1989. Highland Manor was sold and the Wheeler’s and Ramsey’s collaborated with long-time friends, Dr. Lloyd Hassler and Jamie McGuire to open Stonehaus Winery.
When we opened our doors, we offered five wines produced from the first crush of twenty-five tons of Tennessee grapes yielding 3,300 gallons of juice. All wines were sold on site. The wine production in the early years was very much a manual process with little automation. The grapes were crushed on site in a 3-ton per hour crusher de-stemmer. The grapes were then pressed with 1,500 pound capacity basket presses. Additionally, the wines were bottled by hand.
Over the years, we have seen many changes in our operations. Somewhere around 2005 it became evident we needed to make some changes, as it became increasingly difficult to continue our early processes and keep up with the increased demand for our wines. Specifically, we found a great need to add space for more tanks for wine production and wine storage. In 2005 we added a 4,000 sq/ft addition (this would be our 5th addition since our initial opening). Additionally, we needed to be able to bottle more wine at a time than our bottling process would accommodate. As a result, we added an automated bottling line. In 2006 we purchased aGAI 2505 TOP / GAI 6060 bottling line made in Italy. This bottling line allowed us to bottle up to 3,000 bottles of wine per hour. This has vastly improved our efficiency in the bottle process.
Stonehaus Winery is Tennessee’s only winery with statewide and multi-state distribution. Stonehaus wines can be found at the winery and in liquor stores in Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Tri-Cities, and all points in between. Stonehaus Wines are distributed to liquor stores across the country as far north as Michigan and as far south as Alabama.
We are very proud or our wines, heritage, and family we have created here in the beautiful Cumberland Plateau. We invite you to come and share our wine and experience the best in southern wines!