About Our History

2004 | Family Purchase of 370 Acres, Union County, TN
2006 | Seven Springs Farm to Table
2015 | The Winery at Seven Springs Farm


The Farm

In 2004, Rick and Donna Riddle purchased 370 acres of land in Union County, TN, just north of Knoxville. Rick, recently retired from a 20-year career in the United States Air Force, had dreams of coming home to East Tennessee to raise cattle and live off the land. Donna, with a background in fruits, vegetables and agriculture, wanted to start a pick-your-own farm with a small produce stand.

Working with their local soil conservationist, they charted a course for Seven Springs Farm, named for the abundant artesian springs located on the property. Donna began building a thriving vegetable and fruit business, selling at local farmer’s markets. Rick purchased a sawmill, began clearing the land, milling lumber and building the many structures needed on the property. He also started breeding certified Black Angus cattle.

The Dream

Donna and Rick recognized that the farm, properly developed, had the potential to be able to support various endeavors and began discussions with their children about their passion to establish a working family farm. Nikki, a biomedical engineer by trade but a winemaker by passion, had dreams of owning her own business, producing a product from the land, and making wine that people enjoyed. Jim, with a background in structural engineering, was looking for an opportunity to be self-employed with an agri-business, providing naturally raised beef and vegetables to consumers.

From Our Farm to Your Table


A generational dream has emerged for our family farm to bring local wine, meat, fruit and vegetables to your table. Jim and his wife Emily have ensured that Seven Springs Farm will continue in future generations of the Riddle family by blessing Donna and Rick with two beautiful grandchildren.

The Winery

In 2015, the dream of The Winery at Seven Springs Farm became a reality on the 370-acre property that Rick and Donna Riddle had purchased nearly a decade prior. This undertaking was no easy feat, taking many years to conceive and complete. The Winery is housed in a 3200 sq ft timber-frame structure, built from lumber harvested and milled on the farm, carefully fitted and joined timbers with joints secured by large wooden pegs.

Nikki, working with Master Winemaker Michael Coombs, was thrilled to be able to custom design and build a dream wine production facility featuring tailor-made stainless-steel tanks and a state-of-the-art laboratory. Committed to sustainability, The Winery installed a grid of solar panels which generate a reliable source of electricity, allowing the farm to rely solely on renewable solar power.

The Land

When Rick and Donna purchased the farm, they were unaware but happily surprised by the vast history of alcohol production on the land. To locals, the property was known as the AJ Woods Farm, home to the historic Andrew Jacker (AJ) Woods Distillery where legal whiskey was manufactured in a four-story Union County Distillery. The Winery at Seven Springs Farm is located across the highway from where the Woods Distillery once operated. One of three major distilleries in Union County in the early 19th century, it was a thriving business shipping legal distilled spirits throughout the Eastern United States and supporting economic growth in Union and surrounding counties.

The Legacy


The Winery at Seven Springs Farm sits squarely on a state highway that has become an American cultural icon, Thunder Road. Highway 61 was an integral player in the moonshine industry in the American South during and after prohibition. An interest in avoiding the law, owning fast cars, being fearless drivers and the back-woods mountain roads that connected cities … and an American Legend was created. Running from Harlan, Kentucky to Knoxville, Tennessee, this route was frequently traveled at night by illegal whiskey haulers. But to the men who traveled this route, it was much more than legend, it was the road to freedom from economic despair.

Jack Woods, who owned the legal Woods Distillery, was the grandfather to Ed Harvey, who dealt in illegal spirits. Having started making moonshine as a 10-year-old boy, he was probably the last of the Thunder Road boys left in East Tennessee. He later got into soup- ing-up engines in cars to increase horsepower for race car drivers on the weekend who turned into moonshine runners during the week.

More recently and in the family, Rick Riddle’s father, Charlie Riddle, who lived in nearby Fountain City, Tennessee worked as an Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Agent for the United States Government. Charlie was actively involved in undercover work to infiltrate illegal moonshine operations. Unfortunately, he passed before the farm was purchased by the Riddle Family. Remnants of illegal moonshining operations have been found in the back hills of the property, so it’s unknown if he ever participated in a raid on the farm.

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