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Winery coming to the south, brewery to the north

With a new brewery and new winery on its horizons, Hall County has exciting news coming from both north and south.

Beer is creeping into wine country to the north as Tantrum Brewing Company gets closer to opening later this year in Cleveland. There’s not a lot of information on these folks just yet, but they’re growing hops on the property and are busy with construction this summer.

Keep on the lookout on Facebook and Instagram for more word on this company, which aims to open in late summer.

Tantrum Brewing would be the first brewery in White County, which already boasts a relatively long list of wineries.

And while it’s coming later than Tantrum, there’s a new project in South Hall that will be even bigger news for Hall County — the area’s second winery.

A few acres of land near Friendship Road has held a secret for the past couple of years: Rows and rows of grape vines.

Sean Wilborn, formerly of Chateau Elan and now director of winery operations at The Biltmore Co. in Asheville, North Carolina, has quietly secured and planted a little-known variety of grape that has so-far thrived in the soil of South Hall.

“It’s a grape nobody knows anything about,” Wilborn said of the variety he’s planting off of Friendship Road.

It’s called lomanto, and Wilborn purchased 600 vines from a producer in Texas to plant in the Buford area. And it’s going well.

“They are rockin’ — big ol’ beautiful, purple clusters,” Wilborn said. “It makes a big, deep, Malbec inky-purple wine, and you would never know — you would never know — it was a hybrid grape.”

Expect a “bone-dry, classic” red wine, he added.

The conventional European grape, called vitis vinifera, hasn’t fared well as far south as Hall County, leading wineries to focus on muscadine wines or hybrid grapes.

Perched on a lonely hill, the property that will one day host the winery looks over Lake Lanier to the northwest, Buford to the southwest and Braselton to the southeast.

“We sit up on this peak where we’re looking over the Blue Ridge Mountains getting all of these prevailing winds out of the west,” Wilborn said. “If the tree line wasn’t there we’d be able to look out over Braselton and as far out as you could possibly see.”

There’s still a good while to go for the fledgling winery, but when it does open it’ll be called Cloudland, a spin on a famous Tahiti surfing spot called Cloudbreak (Wilborn and his wife are both avid surfers).

“This is my first commercial harvest, and I’ve been flying under the radar, a little secretly,” Wilborn said, “and my hope is with everything moving forward I’ll be able to open fall of 2019. That’s my target date, so we’ll see. Everything is going pretty well so far.”

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