Made in North Georgia
Local businesses are responsible for a variety of products— chicken, chewing gum, yarn and even turkey calls.
Today, we continue a series looking at some of those products made right here in Northeast Georgia, with a look at Three Sisters Vineyard.
For the uninitiated, a glass of Fat Boy Red may not sound too appealing, but the customers of Three Sisters Vineyards have made it a best seller.
“It has a big, bold flavor. It needs a lamb chop — or BBQ,” said Sharon Paul, co-founder of the Dahlonega vineyard.
“It’s even better with dark chocolate. The chocolate brings out flavors that you wouldn’t taste otherwise.”
The red wine, is a specialty blend of cynthiana-norton wine grapes, cabernet franc, merlot and cabernet sauvignon.
“This is one husky wine. Fat Boy (Red) embodies everything we love in a big, chewy, massive wine,” said Doug Paul, vineyard co-founder.
Although the vineyard’s owners have fun with their Fat Boy Red and Fat Boy White wines, they are also produce classics like chardonnay, vidal blanc and pinot noir.
“I think things have gotten to the point where people can taste Georgia wine and be proud of the product,” said Doug Paul.
“This ain’t France or Italy, but we can produce a very unique product here (in Georgia) — something for Georgians to be proud of.”
Although the vineyard was named as the “Best Winery in the South” by Turner South’s Blue Ribbon TV show, the Pauls’ entry into the wine world was an interesting happenstance.
In the early 90s, the couple’s daughter was born and they decided to seek out a new place to establish roots outside of Atlanta.
“We looked for two years. The real estate agent kept showing us all of the wrong places,” said Doug Paul.
“Finally, we got a video of this farm — it used to be a cattle farm — and we knew it was the place. That was the summer of 1995.”
“When we got here, I said let’s plant a few grapes.”
The rest is history.
From a few grapes, the vineyard has grown to encompass around 18 acres of land.
“We had never done anything like this before, so we had to study a lot before we invested our life savings into it,” Sharon Paul said.
“We planted our first vines in 1998 and had our first harvest in 2000.”
Although they like to have fun and make the winery as welcoming as possible to visitors, the Pauls are serious about their wine. From picking grapes at their peak flavors, to aging their products in French and American Oak barrels — they’ve done their homework.
From the time that the grapes leave the vines to when their aged juices are ready for consumption, the process takes at least a year and a half.
“We present the wine when it’s ready to drink,” said Doug Paul.
“Right now, our current releases are mostly 2007s and 2008s, but we do have some 2004s, 2005s and 2006s.”
These days, they’re producing around 3,000 cases — that’s 50,000 bottles — each year.
Although their wines can be sampled around the state, many customers get their first sip right there at Three Sisters. In addition to their winery being open for weekly tours and tastings, the vineyard also hosts around a dozen signature events each year.
“Some specialty wine stores and restaurants around the state carry our wines, but we don’t have a big distributor,” Sharon Paul said.
“We’re happy where we are with things now — we’re keeping pace with demand. Bigger isn’t always better.”