Georgia has become the wine gem of the south in recent years. It is the United States’ top Muscadine producer and vineyard acreage has more than tripled in the past five years. Some wineries are working with vinifera vines, which tend to do well above 1,300 feet, where Pierce’s disease is more of a moderate concern than a threat. Home to more than twenty wineries, with more in the planning stages, Georgia’s wine industry is on the rise. It wasn’t always so. Even though winemaking flourished here in the 1800s, by the turn of the century, Georgia ranked sixth in production among U.S. states. Prohibition was its death knell. In 1907 the state adopted a full alcohol prohibition, 11 years before the policy was implemented across the rest of the nation. So, Georgia wines became a thing of the past. Georgia’s modern day wine history didn’t begin until the early 1980s when the state’s two oldest existing wineries, Chateau Elan and Habersham Vineyards were established.
Since Thomas Jefferson first tried to cultivate European vinifera in Virginia, the state has been a decided piece of American wine country. Over the years better knowledge, equipment and materials have all contributed to an advancing wine industry, but the more recent decade or two has brought out the real potential that can be found.
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