Rolling hills at Persimmon Creek vineyard
A grape is a bit like a time capsule, each berry faithfully recording the story of the season in which it was reared. From the sun, wind, and rain down to the microbes in the soil, every nuance of the grapes' growing conditions effect the flavor and complexity of the fruit. And when the grapes are processed into wine, those subtleties are transferred into glass bottles where they will once again be subject to light, temperature, and time. When you really think about the amount of effort that goes into each bottle, wine starts to look less like fermented grape juice and more like a feat of pure alchemy.
Having never visited a vineyard, and especially not a Georgia vineyard, I really had no expectations. I am by no means a wine snob, but I can appreciate quality. Mary Ann Hardman is quick to point out that wine doesn't grow on the vine, and behind every bottle is a vineyard. At Persimmon Creek, each bottle is the result of dedication, hard work, patience, a unique microclimate, and a whole bunch of love. The Hardmans have created something larger than the wine and I'd encourage you to make the journey to Clayton, GA if you get the chance. Persimmon Creek and its North Georgia peers are working hard to create great wines that the whole world can enjoy.
Of course the next harvest at Persimmon Creek will be a few grapes shy after I made the rounds at the vineyard. The grapes are so abundant and so delicious that I was starting to wonder if the bird netting was there to protect the vines from marauding birds or hungry visitors like myself. And each variety has such unique characteristics, so sweet, sour, and burstingly juicy, that it's hard not to sample them all and imagine how those qualities will manifest in each of their respective bottles. It's a long, labor intensive process, but I think it's worth the wait.