Story by David Scarlett - Photo by Tim Campbell
Look at it - it's going nuts!" exclaims Joe Diffie as he inspects the large container of fermenting wine on his basement floor. There's a purple liquid oozing from the stopper, and it looks ready to blow - all over Joe's white walls.
"I know the problem," he declares calmly. "This batch I may have made six gallons and that container just holds five and a half. So I've got it full right to the top."
Without meaning to, Joe has just described his own life - perfectly.
He moved into a gorgeous new home near Nashville last December and married sweetheart Theresa Crump in March of last year.
The title cut and first single from his In Another World album is the latest in a string of hits, including the No. 1s "Pickup Man," "Third Rock From The Sun" and "Bigger Than The Beatles."
Joe's actively involved in charity work, much of it inspired by the Down syndrome of one of his four children from previous marriages. And Joe recently co-wrote and recorded "World Of Difference" for a compilation CD to benefit Special Olympics in Canada.
He's an excellent cook, a superb golfer and he's acquired enough computer skills to do some nice recording in his home studio.
And, yes, he enjoys making his own beer and wine, everything from pumpkin to persimmon. Joe prefers to use prepackaged kits - no grape stomping required!
The labels on his wine proclaim "Winding Roads Winery," a reference to his first CD, A Thousand Winding Roads. And for the record, he consumes his home brew in moderation or gives it away to friends.
No way around it. Joe's life is "full right to the top."
And he wouldn't have it any other way.
"I do have a lot going on," he concedes with a smile. "But I enjoy it all, so I never feel like I'm overloaded. And I like challenging myself - musically and otherwise."
One of the challenges he and Theresa faced with building their new home was making sure they each got some key items on their "wish lists."
At nearly 6,000 square feet - including Joe's "beverage" basement, the studio/writing room, an exercise area, a leather and wood-accented TV room - there were a lot of decisions in designing the home.
"I was adamant about wanting granite counter tops," confesses Joe. "I had an aunt and uncle who had those, and I thought they were the coolest looking things. And I wanted sod and a sprinkler system for the yard because I just always wanted it."
The big item on Theresa's "must have" list was a balcony. "I had to have that," she exclaims. "I've always loved being able to look over into the living room. And I love the large foyer, too. It turned out just the way I wanted it."
"When we built this house," recalls Joe, "I don't think we had a real serious discussion or argument over anything."
Theresa agrees. "It was more about, 'OK, Joe likes it this way, and I like it this way, but we'd better come together in the middle.' We were good about finding common ground."
The home's third resident didn't have a vote on the plans, but he certainly was considered. Lobo, Theresa's Chihuahua, has the run of the house and his own wardrobe area in Joe and Theresa's large walk-in closet. He's probably got more outfits than Joe does!
"He's unbelievable," laughs Joe. "He's 10 and a half and more famous than I am! People always write and call, 'How's Lobo doing?' "
Lobo may or may not be more famous, but Joe's success has given them both increased visibility.
"I've been so lucky and blessed and I've accomplished so many things," declares Joe quietly. "Anything I do from now on is just icing."