Exploring Mississippi Wine Country and Historic Natchez


Visiting Mississippi’s Winery and Historic Natchez

As part of our southern travels, we were able to explore Louisiana’s wineries. Crossing over into Mississippi, we decided to stop for the afternoon in the historic Mississippi river town of Natchez before heading farther north for an overnight stay in Vicksburg.

Natchez has a long and interesting history. Its location on the Mississippi River has made it a key shipping city, and the business of moving goods along the river continues to this day. Now, Natchez is as much a tourist destination as a freight stopping point. Walking tours of the historic downtown and carriage tours take place daily. The town is quite compact, bordered on its western edge by the river. Natchez is quite proud of its reputation as being one of the best preserved towns in the south. There are more than a dozen National Historic Sites here and over 1,000 structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The population here isn’t large, roughly about 18,000 residents, many whose families have lived here for generations. Natchez has flown under a few flags in its day — Britain, France and Spain most notably. The natural feature that is the most striking when entering town is the bluffs along the riverfront. We wanted a great view with our lunch, so we decided on a casual yet classy spot with view — the Magnolia Grill.

The Magnolia Grill is located in an area called Natchez Under-The-Hill, which is the lower part of downtown adjacent to the river. It’s where you’ll find the big Isle of Capri casino permanently docked and open 24/7. The area is best known now for spectacular views of the Mississippi.

Magnolia Grill is a friendly restaurant overlooking the river and open for lunch and dinner. There’s a postcard view of the river, and we imagined the only time the view would be better would be at sunset. We stopped for lunch and enjoyed a fantastic bowl of crawfish chowder, a spinach salad adorned with locally-grown pecans and pan-fried redfish with crabmeat and Creole sauce. Highly recommended if you’re ever passing near Natchez!

Natchez Shopping and Mississippi Wine

After lunch, we set out to explore downtown Natchez on foot. History is everywhere, especially on what’s known as the Natchez Trails. This segment of the trail is a combination of a walking path and sidewalks along streets. It’ll take you through downtown and up a bluff with a commanding view of the river. You can also take part of the trail right down to the riverside if you wish.

All along the way, there are various markers and kiosks describing the historic events that took place here. Natchez was a very important place through the Civil War and beyond, and the town’s history is embraced and noted for all who visit here.

After walking off our lunch, it was time to visit the Old South Winery, just a few blocks west of downtown with their vineyard directly in back of the winery! Old South has been around for more than 30 years, and it’s well known for muscadine wines. These wines are unique. They’re not aged in barrels, and they have a distinct fruity taste. In our estimation, the fruity outweighed the typical sweet you’ll find with muscadine wines.

Without exception, Old South’s wines are fresh, clean and bursting with fruit. In terms of white wines, we enjoyed Carlos. It’s made from the Carlos muscadine grape, which we likened to a Pinot Grigio. Another white that stood out for us was Soutern Belle, mildly sweet yet crisp and very fruity.

As for reds, our favorite was Natchez Rouge — a firm bodied wine similar to a Merlot. We also enjoyed Bayou Blush, a pinkish red wine similar to Zinfandel but fruitier. Two bottles of each went home with us.

More About Natchez

In addition to being home to Mississippi’s oldest winery, Natchez is also known as being the bed and breakfast capital of the south. Many are housed in modernized antebellum mansions, so you’re assured of a true Southern experience! If you’re not the bed and breakfast type (we usually aren’t), consider the wonderfully historic Eola Hotel in the heart of downtown. It originally opened in 1927 and has been completely renovated. We only had an afternoon here, but this would have been our choice had we stayed overnight.

Strolling around the downtown area, we noted quite a few antique shops, specialty stores and galleries. Downtown is alive with foot traffic, and we can certainly see why Natchez is so popular with visitors. You’ll find numerous shopping destinations along Main Street as well as Franklin Street, to name just two.

One place we recommend you go is Darby’s Famous Fudge, actually called Darby’s Gifts. It’s a combination gift shop, sundry and fudge maker. Their fudge is famous around here! You can also buy muscadine hot sauce.

For art, stop in at the Rolland Golden Gallery on Main Street. The gallery features the works of prominent painter (and Natchez resident) Rolland Golden who paints, among other subjects, scenes of Natchez and the Mississippi River. Another is Arts Natchez Gallery on Main Street which features artwork by Natchez residents. If you’re a Civil War buff, Audobon Gallery on Franklin Street is packed with Civil War art and artifacts.

After just a few short hours here, it was time to get on the road for our drive to Vicksburg. We lamented our choice to not spend a night in Natchez. It would have allowed us to tour a historic antebellum home or two, plus enjoy a leisurely dinner.

If you’re planning to visit Natchez, take your time and spend the night here. You’ll be able to enjoy the relaxed pace of this historic river town and experience all Natchez has to offer.


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