Todd DeFeo

Georgia wine is on the rise

Georgia Wine A sampling of Georgia wines. (Photo by Todd DeFeo)

ELLIJAY, Ga. — Georgia is seeing a resurgence in wine production, breaking long-held negative stereotypes about the wines produced in the Empire State of the South.

In the last few years, the state, long known for producing its distinctive sweet — and to some, unpalatable — muscadine has seen an uptick in the popularity of wine tours.

Frogtown Cellars Vineyards & Winery

The 57-acre Frogtown Cellars Vineyards & Winery provides splendid vistas of the North Georgia mountains in addition to wines made with homegrown grapes. (Photo by Todd DeFeo)

There are at least 40 wineries in the state. Most of the wineries are located north of Interstate 20.

According to the University of Georgia, the state is the nation’s largest producer of muscadine grapes.

A September 2013 study from the Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development at the University of Georgia revealed the average Georgia winery has 172.1 acres. Of that land, an average of 43.9 acres are used for growing grapes.

The survey also revealed that about 64 percent of wineries purchased wine juice from vineyards in other states — mainly California, North Carolina and New York — to aid in production. At the same time, most wineries, 87.5 percent, said they did not sell grapes or juice to other wineries.

Georgia had a robust wine industry by the latter half of the 19th century, but the industry was killed when the state adopted prohibition laws in 1907. The current wine industry in Georgia was launch in the 1980s.

Georgia Wines in Ringgold, established in 1982, was the state’s first established farm winery, according to a July 2003 article in Georgia Trend.

While muscadine wine is one of the most famous types of wines produced, other popular grapes grown in Georgia include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.

More than a third of wine produced in the state (35.9 percent) retail for between $16 and $20, according to the UGA study.

About Todd DeFeo

Todd DeFeo loves to travel anywhere, anytime, taking pictures and notes. An award-winning reporter, Todd revels in the experience and the fact that every place has a story to tell. He is owner of The DeFeo Groupe and also edits Express Telegraph and Railfanning.org.