Wine is produced and consumed in all 50 states, and every single one is wonderfully unique…
Georgia has a long history of wine going back to the 19th Century, and was even the sixth largest wine-producing state in 1900. But it was also among the first to institute Prohibition (in 1907), which devastated the industry for decades. The modern industry began in the 1980’s, and has one AVA—Upper Hiwassee—which extends into North Carolina’s southwestern tip.
Georgia’s humid subtropical climate is perfect for Muscadine varieties, but many Georgia wineries have also successfully focused on classic vinifera varieties, plus some French hybrids and Native American varieties. Several have also become popular wedding destinations in beautiful mountainous locations. The annual Georgia Wine Highway is a special Passport program spanning a month and including 40 wineries and eight tasting rooms around the state.
Habersham Vineyard & Winery, founded in 1983, is one of the state’s oldest and largest wineries, with two distinct vineyards (Stonepile and Nacoochee) producing 25 different vinifera and hybrid varieties, plus rare throwbacks to the 1800’s like America, Lamonto, and Wetumka. The three tasting rooms all feature three different labels–Habersham, Creekstone, and Southern Harvest, with the latter focused on Muscadine-based wines.
Stonewall Creek Vineyards grows some of their own grapes and sources others from elsewhere in Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, and California, while Three Sisters Vineyards, in the shadow of a mountain of the same name, grows 100% of the grapes they use. Wolf Mountain Vineyards, in the northern Georgia highlands about 60 miles from Atlanta, makes only about 5,000 cases but has had impressive results in major wine competitions, and is another popular wedding venue.
Yonah Mountain Vineyards, just north of Atlanta, produces estate wines from their 20-acre vinifera vineyard that’s part of a 200-acre farm. Bob and Jane Miller have also launched a robust sustainability program involving a solar farm, a solar roof powering their tasting room, EV chargers and vehicles, even an electric forklift. Their ultimate goal is to become totally energy independent.
Great Grapes: Chardonnel
Chardonnel, a descendent of Seyval Blanc and Chardonnay developed by Cornell University and released in 1990, has become a popular variety in several midwestern and eastern states, including Georgia. The cold-resistant variety ripens relatively late, and produces a pleasant, medium-bodied dry white wine popular with consumers and lauded in many competitions nationwide.
Georgia Economic Impact
Total Impact includes the Direct, Supplier, and Induced levels reaching from vineyards to local communities, benefiting people and places far and wide.
Total Impact: $5.3 Billion
Direct: $1.9 Billion (40%)
Supplier: $1.6 Billion (26%)
Induced: $1.8 Billion (34%)
Wine Producers: 78
Wages: $1.650 Billion
Tourist Visits: 249,867
Tourist Expenditures: $84.8 Million
Total Taxes: $410.7 Million
Federal Taxes: $256.6 Million
State and Local Taxes: $154.0 Million