Fans of craft beer can sip themselves silly on locally made brews, but Fulton County’s only winery could soon fill the hearts and glasses of wine lovers.
The Milton City Council unanimously approved Monday a vineyard that will produce wine from its own grapes. Experts of the Georgia wine industry say this would be the only farm winery in Fulton.
The Painted Horse Vineyards, which could host tastings, would be on Pamela Jackson’s existing 20-acre private estate and horse farm at 2105 Bethany Way. The city’s blessing is contingent upon approval from Georgia’s revenue department.
Jackson said the vineyard’s name comes from youth events currently held on the property where children use non-toxic paint to decorate horses.
For 25 years, she said, The Farm at Pamelot has been giving horse riding lessons, running summer camps and hosting birthday parties with a petting zoo. She said she currently boards about 20 horses.
As for the wine, she said she bought two-year-old vines to grow her own grapes, but added that “we may source in some other grapes to get the right blend,” which isn’t unusual at this level of the wine industry.
Jackson said her daughter has a chemistry degree and will be the main vintner after learning from industry experts.
The goal, Jackson said, is to create 500 bottles of white wine and 1,000 bottles of red in the first full year of production, which may not be until 2023. She told the City Council that she had planted 300 vines on about one acre.
Compare that to the 20,000 cases of wine produced in 2015 on 32 acres at Gwinnett County’s Château Élan Winery, the name most in metro Atlanta think of when it comes to Georgia wine.
Jackson said her plan is to produce pinot noir, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and cabernet sauvignon.
“If that sells real quickly, we’ll double or triple,” she said.
But local wine experts say there’s a reason this may be a first in Fulton; the fairly flat land mixed with clay soil and heat makes it tough to grow traditional wine grapes.
Wayne Crawford, who judges an annual statewide wine competition, wrote in “Georgia Vineyards and Wineries” that there were 56 vineyards in Georgia in 2016, mostly east and north of Atlanta towards the mountains.
According to a 2013 study from the University of Georgia, the state’s wine industry sustains 655 jobs and contributes $4.1 million in state and local tax revenue.
Milton’s city staff said Painted Horse would have a “positive fiscal impact” but didn’t give a dollar amount. This is the city’s first farm winery application. Bernadette Harvill, city finance director, said Jackson’s application with the state to produce, package and sell wine might take some time to process.
Jackson said that won’t stop her from selling other Georgia-grown wines within a few weeks.
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