State Profile: Georgia Wine Country

While the country of Georgia is the true birthplace of wine thousands of years ago, the state of Georgia was the sixth largest wine producer before Prohibition and has been growing in recent years. Most wineries are in northern Georgia near the Blue Ridge Mountains where the conditions for growing vinifera grapes are ideal. The industry emphasizes sustainability, and is supported by the University of Georgia’s Viticulture and Extension programs, along with the Georgia Wine Producers association.

Frogtown Cellars was created in 1998 by Craig and Cydney Kritzer, and is one of the most awarded wineries in the east, with over 200 medals from various competitions. In addition, winemaker Craig has twice been named one of the 100 most influential people in the U.S. wine industry. Their steep vineyards are at elevations from 1675 to 1825 feet on the Dahlonega Plateau AVA, and the tri-level gravity flow winery is both energy-friendly and quality-enhancing. They also have an Italian bistro for hungry visitors.

Habersham Vineyard & Winery, one of Georgia’s oldest (1983) and largest, offers consumers a wide range of vinifera, French hybrid and muscadine labels under the Habersham, Creekstone, and Southern Harvest labels. The three tasting rooms also feature specialty foods and other items from around the world.

Kaya Vineyard and Winery offers one of the most panoramic views of north Georgia, enhanced by a spacious tasting room with 12-foot windows, Edison light bulbs, and reclaimed wood—plus a 2,000 square foot covered deck. The Werkheiser family offers an eclectic range of wines, mostly from their own vineyards, has a number of cottages for visitors, and sponsors an annual Jeeps in the Vineyard event.

Stonewall Creek Vineyards, started by Carl and Carla Fackler in 2004 and transferred to the Diehl family in 2018, is nestled in an Appalachian Mountain valley with a meandering creek which attracts the morning fog from the Chattahoochee National Forest, making each morning a picturesque scene. Traminette and Petit Manseng are among the favorites, and the University of Georgia viticulture team is using the vineyard for research.

Wolf Mountain Vineyards and Winery is a major winner of top awards in the most prestigious wine competitions such as the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco International, and Los Angeles International. This is truly a family conglomerate involving grape growing, winemaking, frequent weddings, and full-scale dining. E. Karl Boegner is Proprietor and Winemaker Emeritus, his wife Linda the wedding guru, their son Brannon the vineyard manager and winemaker, daughter Lindsey running the restaurant and her husband Stephen Smith doing the marketing.

Yonah Mountain Vineyards, at the southeast base of that mountain and with a spectacular view, grows several vinifera varieties on its 20 acres, includes three Airbnb-type cottages, and is a popular wedding venue. Its goal is complete energy independence for its farm and facilities.

Great Grapes: Sauvignon Blanc

Originally associated with Bordeaux and the Loire Valley, Sauvignon is now grown widely around the world and, like Riesling, is highly reflective of “terroir” in aroma and taste (compare New Zealand to Loire or Sonoma, for instance). The typically grassy, herbaceous flavor, sometimes described as “gooseberry”, can also be citrus-like depending on the origin. Regardless of origin, it is typically a great match for shellfish and other seafood.