Doug Paul, 59: Georgia wine visionary foresaw, helped vineyards’ growth

Doug Paul had a reputation as a visionary in Georgia’s wine industry. He envisioned planting a vineyard when he first laid eyes on the 184 acres of Lumpkin County farmland where he and his wife would found Three Sisters Vineyards in 1996. And he envisioned growth in the state’s then-fledgling wine business, with more vineyards taking root throughout Georgia. Paul’s mission was to produce high-quality wine, and his ultimate dream was to “see great vineyards from Savannah to Young Harris.”

Thanks in part to Paul’s commitment and advocacy, Georgia’s wine industry has expanded from a handful of vineyards 20 years ago to 55 licensed vineyards and wineries statewide with a multimillion-dollar impact on the economy.

G. Douglas Paul, 59, of Dahlonega, formerly of Atlanta, died of heart failure on March 7 at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville. He was the son of Richard and Lorraine Paul and was born in Kingston, Pa.

According to the Dahlonega Chamber of Commerce, Three Sisters Vineyards and Winery was the first farm winery in North Georgia. In a message on Paul’s death to its members, the Chamber said, “We will always have an image of Doug, in his denim overalls, giving a big, warm welcome to locals and visitors alike as he strove to make people feel welcome, with his expressed purpose of making wine and love of wine available to people of all walks of life – or as he put it, ‘taking the snobbery out of wine.’

Paul’s wife, Sharon, said the couple had collected wine for years before her husband had the idea of planting a vineyard and becoming a wine grower.

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“In 1992, we were living in Midtown Atlanta, and our daughter had just been born,” she recalled. “We wanted our daughter to grow up with more nature in her life, so we began looking for a farm. I was thinking we could have a lovely weekend getaway home, but Doug had other ideas. He looked at the property and said ‘I think we could grow a few grapes here.’ Ultimately, a 184-acre farm was his idea of a few grapes. He was a big man with big dreams and big ideas.”

Emily DeFoor, a board member of the Winegrowers Association of Georgia and general manager of Habersham Vineyards and Winery in Helen, said Paul was a tireless advocate for Georgia wine growers.

“Doug Paul worked to bring people together on the issues facing the industry and was always very generous about sharing his knowledge and expertise with other growers,” she said.

While he was recognized in the wine industry, Paul was also well-known for his lifetime of work in television and radio. Most recently, he was known as the signature voice for GRIT TV owned by Katz Broadcasting and for Joseph A. Bank clothiers. Prior to that, he was heard as the signature voice of Peachtree TV and dozens of other television stations around the world.

Paul was the owner and founder of Catspaw Productions and Catspaw Studios, which moved from midtown Atlanta to Alpharetta in 2000. He was a member of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of TV and Radio Artists for more than 30 years. He was a member of the Rotary Club, Masons and Yaarab Shriners Temple in Atlanta.

“Doug was a welcoming, friendly presence everywhere he went, and the world will be less warm and friendly place without him,” Sharon Paul said.

In addition to his wife, Paul is survived by daughter Mittie Paul of Dahlonega; father Richard Paul of Washington, N.C.; brothers Jeff Paul of Buford and Jay Paul of Stanley, N.C.; and numerous nieces and nephews.

A memorial service is planned for Tuesday, March 21, at 3 p.m. at Three Sisters Vineyards’ hilltop gazebo.

Read and sign the online guestbook for Doug Paul

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