J is for Juice – Grape Juice. In honor of our current visit to Montaluce Winery, I’m sharing a previous post about Southern Wines.
As a city belle and a lifetime hospitality industry employee, I tend to think of myself as a tiny bit of a connoisseur when it comes to wine. I do say “tiny,” because not only is the industry enormous, but the varieties and varietals are almost infinite – years of study and training (and drinking!) are required to become an expert. And although I’ve had some study and training (and I’ve definitely mastered the “drinking” part) I still feel that fundamentally “it’s just grape juice,” (although sometimes truly amazing grape juice honed by masters) and there is a flavor for everyone and every palate.
Although the Southern states of Virginia, North Carolina and Texas are perhaps better known for wine making, it’s interesting to know that my home state of Georgia was once one of the largest producers of wines in the United States. Prohibition’s early start in Georgia (1907), wiped out their lead and made the industry almost non-existent until the 1970s, with the exception; oddly enough, of sacramental wine production.
Today, Georgia boasts over two dozen vineyards and wineries all over the state, although the preponderance are located north of Atlanta, in the higher elevations of Helen, Dahlonega and Cleveland.
Georgia boasts climactic conditions suited for growing Vitis vinifera (European varieties) and cold-hardy French-American hybrids used for making traditional “fine” wines. The South’s mild Springs and early Summers allow a long growing season and the higher elevations of the Appalachian foothills provide some relief from the humidity. Our famous red clay soil, a universal source of profanity after a rainstorm, actually contributes to both to excellent drainage and the ability to retain moisture during dry spells.
Vines at Montaluce, in Dahlonega, GA
Basically, this all means that the South, and Georgia in particular, is enjoying a renaissance of vinification.
How fortunate, I’ve always considered myself a “renaissance girl!”
Frogtown Cellars in Dahlonga, Georgia
Once I managed to climb over my own ridiculous snobbery about Georgia-produced wines, I fell in love with the North Georgia wine country.
We visit its rolling hills and beautiful wineries several times each year, even staying in the estate villas in Montaluce for family vacations.
Skilled winemakers and award-winning wines make it a pleasure not only to “shop,” but to “buy local.”
“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.”
― Ernest Hemingway
“We’re not trying to make California wine. If you want California wine, go to California. What we are doing is making Georgia wine…and Georgia wine is good wine.”
-Rob Beecham, Montaluce Vineyards