Deana Carter’s Strawberry Wine: Story Behind the Song Trisha Yearwood Turned Down

by Emily Morgan

In August of 1996, Deana Carter released her hit “Strawberry Wine” as the debut single from her first album.

Co-penned by Matraca Berg and Gary Harrison, “Strawberry Wine” hit No. 1 on Billboard’s “Hot Country Singles & Tracks” chart.

Carter also earned “Song of the Year” at the 1997 CMA Awards, and the Nashville Songwriters Association International voted “Strawberry Wine” as their song of the year.

Carter also received Grammy and ACM nominations for her work on the hit.

When asked about crafting the coming-of-age song, Berg said, “I just wrote the title down, “Strawberry Wine,” because Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill — that’s what all the teenagers used to sneak off and drink and get sick on. I wasn’t sure what it meant. I’m the kind of writer — I kind of need music to figure stuff out. I usually don’t come up with the words first; I’ll have a title, and the music will tell me what it’s about.”

The ‘Strawberry Wine’ Story & How It Almost Went To Trisha Yearwood

Berg also added that even though the hit became a timeless track, it only took moments to craft.

“We wrote it quickly, in about three or four hours. We really liked it, but we thought nobody else probably would. Pat [Higdon, my publisher] was having this tent showcase with label people and artists coming to listen to the new stuff that we’d all written. And that was the only new song I had. I looked at the floor the whole time, because I was so nervous. When I looked up after playing the song for him, he was grinning from ear to ear.”

Despite becoming a classic hit, its fate could’ve been much different, considering it almost went to another country singer.

Before the song’s release, Trisha Yearwood was quickly ascending to ’90s country music stardom. However, she missed out on nabbing one of the biggest country hits of the era.

During an interview with The Boot, Yearwood revealed she was slated to release the track but put it on hold before passing it on to Carter.

“I always joke about ‘Strawberry Wine,’ which I had on hold and let go. It went on to sell four million singles.”

Her husband, Garth Brooks, even classifies “Strawberry Wine” as his favorite ’90s country song.

“The truth is, that song was meant for Deana Carter,” Yearwood added. “When I cut ‘She’s in Love with the Boy,’ it had been around two or three years before I recorded it. I think songs end up where they are supposed to be.”