Did you know that Blairsville-Union County is part of an official American Viticultural Area (AVA)? You’ve probably heard of AVA’s before, but just didn’t realize exactly what it encompassed. Are you familiar with names like Napa Valley and Sonoma in California or maybe you’ve heard of Martha’s Vineyard or the Finger Lakes region? In a nutshell, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau defines specific regions that are distinguishable by a unique natural boundary and growing conditions unlike any other neighboring region. For us, that region is the Upper Hiwassee Highlands AVA region which includes parts of Clay County and Cherokee County in North Carolina and Towns and Union Counties in Georgia. The Upper Hiwassee Highlands AVA region makes the fourth designation for North Carolina and the first ever for Georgia!
An American Viticultural Area designation is not an easy process and they are not freely given out. It took a group of dedicated wine growers, spearheaded by Eric Carlson of Calaboose Cellars, four years of paperwork, petitions, and substantial evidence that Western North Carolina and Northeast Georgia features the Upper Hiwassee Watershed as a perfect natural boundary and has growing conditions unlike any other neighboring region for the eight wineries that fall into the Upper Hiwassee Highlands AVA.
So, what does this mean to the wineries? It means that each vineyard in the Upper Hiwassee Highlands has a way to point vintners and consumers to a special characteristic or overall quality of grapes grown in the region. Additionally, they have permission to use a tag on their label called an appellation of origin, which proudly states the wine was made in the Upper Hiwassee Highlands region.
The vineyards that are included in the region are:
Clay County: Eagle Fork Vineyards
Cherokee County: Calaboose Cellars, Valley River Vineyards, and Nottely River Valley Vineyards
Towns County: Crane Creek Vineyards, Hightower Creek Vineyards
Union County: Paradise Hills Farm Winery, Odom Springs Vineyards
Having the AVA designation assures wine enthusiasts of a product’s quality and characteristics. So, take a ride around and get to know the wines of your region. Most vineyards offer tastings and typically have music or other fun events as you sniff, sample, and enjoy each unique vintage.
For a full listing of wineries or other activities in Union County and the North Georgia Mountains please stop by The Welcome Center located in the Union County Community Center at 129 Union County Recreation Road, call 706-745-5789, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us online at www.VisitBlairsvilleGa.com.