An inn that has recently received accolade upon accolade is quietly nestled in the mountains in Walland, Tennessee.
It's a destination for the country's upper crust. And part of its charm? It is East Tennessee through and through. And so is Blackberry Farm's Founder Kreis Beall.
You never see Kreis Beall without her Jack Russell Terrier, Buddy Beall. Her pup is right on her heels as she walks the grounds of her family farm. And what an incredible farm it is.
Kreis is Knoxville born and Knoxville bred. She went to school at Tulane University and majored in art history.
"I loved beautiful things and I wanted to know more about them," says Beall.
But it was after she moved home from college, she found her true passions in life.
"I had a family and that is when I started cooking," says Beall.
She started taking cooking classes. "I couldn't fry an egg or do a grilled cheese. The first thing I could cook was beef wellington, baked alaska, pontiff potatoes, french onion soup," says Beall.
It's when she truly earned the art of entertaining. "Everyday if I wasn't taking a class, I was reading a cookbook, planning a menu, going to the store and I had people over every night and I loved it. I loved the beginning to end," says Beall.
So, she took her talents to the next level when she and Sandy Beall bought a farm. "It was built in 1940, by Dave and Florida Laiser and it was bought by the Jarvis family. We are the third family to have owned it. During those years it was an inn sometimes during season. It was never continuously an inn," says Beall.
After five months of renovations it became the family home and a full-time inn in 1976.
"There were three of us that did everything. We cooked, cleaned, served and the kids were right there," says Beall. "I can remember when Sam was 17 months old and he was in his red little footy pajamas because he would be in the kitchen with us and I would let him take plates to the table. I think of things like that and I think what was I thinking? I wonder what the guests were thinking at that time."
Now her son Sam Beall is in charge. "He's as passionate about Blackberry as I am. I am the most blessed person in the world," says Kreis.
Blackberry Farm has come a long way. It opened to the public in 1990 and more rooms have been added, cottages, even private homes. And it's a full-time working farm complete with fly fishing, horse riding, a dairy farm, a homegrown garden, the works. But with all the upgrades, the philosophy has stayed the same.
"When we moved to Blackberry Farm we moved all of our own personal furnishings, china, crystal, everything right into the inn. That's what we used. This was our home. We invited people to our home and it hasn't changed in 36 years," says Kreis.
Kreis Beall is one of the founders, but she is also the Director of Design. Many of Kreis' private homes over the years have been featured in top design magazines and all the beautiful simplicity of Blackberry comes from Kreis and her team.
"My mother is the most wonderful, giving designer. She's a beautiful woman and our home when I grew up, I had the most beautiful home. It was her passion."
Kreis has helped create what Blackberry guests love, but above all she says it's the local charm that creates the Blackberry way of life.
"It's the people, that's the most important thing. People used to say, 'Kreis, how in the world do you train your staff like this? Everybody is so wonderful.' And I said, 'They come that way'."
Blackberry Farm, luxury, simple, down home much like Kreis Beall someone who has poured her heart and soul into Blackberry's rolling hills.
"People say, 'Is this what you envisioned?' And I'm like, 'no.' They say, 'Well, what did you envision?' I said, 'I didn't'."
One of Your Stories. There's no place like this one.
Blackberry Farm has received glowing reviews from national publications. Travel and Leisure voted it #1 Resort in America.