Georgia’s Growing Wine & Muscadine Production

Acworth, GA |

It’s long been said that preparation is the key to success. And with so many different factors to consider both in and away from the field, that certainly applies to starting up your own winery. It’s why the Georgia Wine Producers put on this New Grape Growers Symposium twice a year in order to give those interested both the information and confidence to make that leap.

“Definitely do it, but get an education first. Know what you’re heading into. Know the laws and rules and regulations in your locale before you even put a shovel into the ground,” says Jane Miller, President of the Georgia Wine Producers.

“Local legislation is always important. How cooperative is your county or it’s not so often how cooperative they are, it’s just how much do they actually know? A lot of times, our wineries will have to introduce the idea of what we’re doing to the local legislatures. As soon as they see what we’re actually doing and how we’re impacting the community, then they’re really open to it most of the time,” says Bill Cox, VP of Georgia Wine Producers.

That planning also applies to which varieties you are hoping to grow, as both the climate and soil conditions will go a long way in determining which grapes will be most successful.

“One of the things that can be a downfall as we all are learning this process is if you plant stuff in the ground and then start researching what you need to do for that, a lot of the times the soil can be a very big difference. If you already have your grapes in the ground and you already have your trellis system in the ground, you can’t adjust your soil very much. We have a lot of acidic soils, a lot of compact soils that if you do not break that up and mix in some Lyme in order to make sure it’s a little bit more conducive to what the grapes need, you suffer on the long term,” says Dr. Sarah Lowder, UGA Viticulture Extension Specialist.

Despite all the work that goes into educating yourself, that hasn’t stopped a growing number of people from fulfilling their dream of opening up a winery, as they can now be found all over the state.

“Now, there’s almost a hundred wineries. We’re not quite sure. There’s around a hundred wineries in Georgia growing everything from vinifera, muscadine, fruit wines, Norton and Linus, Blanc to Blanc, some of the so called Native American grapes and we have wineries from Blairsville at the top of the state to Valdosta at the bottom of the state. So, it’s really an interesting time to be in Georgia,” says Miller.

That’s good news not just for the agricultural industry, but for the entire economy as well, with many rural areas of the state now becoming a destination thanks to its growing popularity.

“People want to go to a winery, but they want to go to five or six wineries in a weekend a lot more. So, if we can get more friends into this and more people involved, then all the supporting things also come with it, nicer hotels, restaurants, bed and breakfasts, all this other really cool stuff. So, when people come out to the wineries, they get to enjoy all of that and the whole community benefits,” says Cox.

By: Damon Jones