As it turns out, “The Peach State” has another fruit worth of celebration: wine grapes. Georgia’s ever-expanding wine country extends from Savannah to Young Harris, blanketing the northern third of the state. Wineries and farms product fruits and honey for wine production, accounting for a nearly $400 million dollar industry for the state of Georgia. As of 2008 Georgia is a direct wine shipping state, meaning that residents are free to receive up to 12 cases a year. While out-of-state retailer shipping is prohibited, wine clubs can ship into Georgia, including
Early in its history, European grape varieties struggled to take hold in Georgia, but native muscadines were widely cultivated for table grapes as well as for the production of sweet wines. Then, in the late 1970s, the wine industry flourished with the help of pioneering winemakers who invested in modern wineries in some of Georgia’s most historic agricultural valleys.
In July, 2014 Georgia officially earned its first America Viticultural Area (AVA), known as the Upper Hiwassee Highlands, which spans 690 miles and is located in northeast Georgia and southwestern North Carolina.
With the addition of its first AVA, Georgia wineries have gained national recognition and wine tourism offers are expected to expand. The state’s annual wine festival takes place every June in Dahlonega, and features wineries, hard cider producers, as well as local breweries. Travelers to the region also enjoy the neighboring national forests, mountainous landscape, as well as the famous Georgian sunshine.
Today, wines from Northern Georgia are earning ever increasing recognition for their quality and complexity. Merlot and Viognier are two grapes that particularly thrive in the Georgian soils and sultry summer climate.