Day two in Nashville was a scorcher. Not too bad at 90 degrees, but the humidity was at 35% which made it seem hotter. Nevertheless it was sunny and a beautiful day to visit the Bell Meade Plantation which was home to the Harding and Jackson families (no relation to the presidents) for nearly 100 years. If you love history like I do you'll enjoy this wonderfully preserved site. The Harding family had a slave owning plantation where they raised and bred horses. After the emancipation proclamation all the slaves were freed. Do the names Secretariat and Seabiscuit ring any bells? Those horses were direct descendants of the horses that the Jackson family owned. You can get a guided tour of the mansion, and at $16.00 it is well worth the fee. Unfortunately we couldn't take any pictures inside the home-I was really bummed about it because the house is beautifully kept and most of the furniture, books, portraits and other antiques are original to Bell Meade. I did however take some pictures of the exterior and grounds and here they are:
The entrance to the plantation.
The beautiful exterior of the mansion. The tour meets on the porch (there were about 20 of us total), and you're led through each room and given information about the family, their history and the artifacts in the house.
Horses are kept on site...seems a bit random at first, but after going through the tour and finding out the family bred horses for a living, and were well known for it, it all makes sense.
Mumsy and I stopped for a snap shot.
The exterior of the carriage house. Bell Meade has about 17 historic carriages that you can walk around.
The back of the mansion.
After the 45 minute tour through the house you're brought to the wine tasting portion. Yes they have wine tasting! Our host was Nick, he was hilarious. He told us all the different things we could mix with the wine...which included tequila with the Bell Meade Blackberry. I was a bit skeptical (I'm kind of a wine snob) but after I tasted it I could understand what he was talking about. It's a sweet red wine that would make a perfect mixer. He also shared with all of us that Bell Meade winery is the only winery in Nashville and one of the few non-profit winery's in the United States.
We sampled the first 4 wines on the list: the Carriage House Chardonnay, Red Muscadine, Racing Silk Red and Blackberry.
Mom and I loved the Racing Silk Red!
We walked a bit through the back of the mansion on the grounds after the tour and wine tasting. We were definitely ready for air conditioning...which brought us to shopping...
We made our way to The Mall at Green Hills. This mall is huge-lots of well known designer stores (Tory Burch, Kate Spade, and Michael Kors to name a few) that we visited, but my favorite discovery was this little shop called Absolution. Native to Nashville they have two stores. There were so many unique findings. I'm used to great shops in Ann Arbor that carry a lot of little known brands but this place had quite a few lines that I've never heard of before.
LAFCO candles: based in New York city, these candles are simple in their design but have a beautiful scent.
Books and small charming gifts fill the store.
A Nashville based candle company makes candles named after every town surrounding Nashville.
I had to save the best for last. This was my favorite finding at Absolution. The jewelry is made by a Franklin based designer, Amy Sale. The line pictured here is called Bella Honor, and the jewelry is re-purposed from soldier's medals. 10% of the proceeds of sales go to veterans.