A new vineyard and winery is set to open on land previously owned by a Razorback football coach in eastern Fayetteville. Sassafras Springs Vineyard, a $1 million project, will serve as a venue for wine tasting and special events.
The land being converted into a vineyard was once a horse farm that belonged to former Arkansas Head Football Coach Houston Nutt.
"The area is a real pretty one," said Gene Long. "I think that's what makes it most significant. The natural springs and the wildlife make it a natural place for a winery."
Local insurance executives Cheryl and Gene Long are working to turn the land into a 15-acre venue. In addition to the winery and vineyard, the location will also be home to a wedding chapel.
"East Fayetteville just needed more things available for people to do and places to go," said Cheryl Long.
Cheryl Long said the venue's winery will provide adults with a good alternative to places like Dickson Street.
"Our age group doesn't necessarily want to go to Dickson Street, so this is a great place to bring friends and family and relax," she said.
Local woman Kim Johnson said East Fayetteville is a perfect place for a winery.
"There are a lot of people that do drink wine, so I think it would be nice," she said.
The vineyard will carry its own wine labels, as well as wine from across the nation.
"We are going to grow a few grapes here," Gene Long said. "We will not be able to grow enough grapes for the amount of wine need, so we will buy grapes from others and have our own wine made."
The Longs said the best part of the vineyard is the location.
"It just has very easy access to everyone in Northwest Arkansas," Cheryl Long said.
The winery is expected to open April 1. The Longs said the venue will be open weekly, Wednesday through Sunday.