Songwriter Hoagy Charmichael (who was actually a native of Indiana) gave us the song
standard “Georgia on my Mind.” Composed in 1930, it is the official song of
the state of Georgia, even though in fact the song was originally written to celebrate a woman
named Georgia. No matter, as to agriculture, the state is associated with peaches, perhaps
peanuts, but winemaking? Yes, in fact, if husband and wife team Sonny and Mary Ann
Hardman have anything to say about the matter. A decade ago, the Hardmans scoped out a
plot of farmland in northeastern Georgia, 110 acres situated at an elevation of 2100 feet. The
couple did careful soil and climate analysis before planting. They decided popular varietal
wines like Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon would not do well in the high elevation
cool-climate conditions of Clayton County. Instead, they planted sections of French white
hybrid Seyval Blanc, Riesling, Cabernet Franc, and some Merlot. The Hardmans keep at it,
doing it all by hand.
The Persimmon Creek Vineyards 2007 Georgia Seyval Blanc, $23, is a near water-white in
color. The nose is lovely: mineral, white flowers, honey and a deep lime citrus. Before any
other quality, I must bill this as a food friendly wine. It is dry, with medium-plus, racy
acidity. Palate notes are a mix of well-concentrated lemon, peach, apricot and mango. Later
on in the process, kiwi and green plum take over, through to an exceedingly clean finish. This
is a tasty bottle that emptied rather quickly.
The Persimmon Creek Vineyards 2007 Georgia Cabernet Franc, $23, is a medium-depth ruby
in color. The nose is pronounced, with aromatic notes of licorice, black plum, nutmeg, dried
flowers, violet and mocha with a vanilla tinge. The wine is dry, with soft fine grained tannins
and well integrated acidity. Mouthfeel is on the soft side, a quality that dovetails well with
fruit notes of plum and blackberry, with tobacco, licorice, and vanilla each playing a part. The
tobacco and vanilla linger on the finish, a nice touch.
The Persimmon Creek Vineyards 2007 Georgia Ice Wine, $75, is 100% Riesling from
west-facing vines that take their time ripening, often lurching deep into November or
December. The grapes freeze naturally on the vine, making it the state's only true ice wine
(artificial freezing, as used by some vineyards, does not count). The wine is a deep amber in
color. Honey, dried flowers, peach, apricot, and almond meet the nose, with a similar
amalgam on the palate. Acidity balances out the sweet. This is a wine you drink slowly, with
a gentle touch. The finish is long, unctuous, and dryer that you would expect. The wine in
fact is in many ways more subtle than I first expected. I look forward to further vintages.
Expands American wine horizons.
Wine Pages Home
High-altitude cool-climate vineyards need appropriate grape varieties.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman
Farmstead and vineyard juxtapose in northeast Georgia.
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