ALPHARETTA, Ga. — The Georgia Trustees celebrated the state’s best in wine and spirits recently at the fifth annual Wine and Spirits Challenge at the Metropolitan Club in Alpharetta. The formal awards banquet recognized the industry’s top producers and vintners.
Roughly 130 residents attended the gala anticipating a taste from some of Georgia’s top wine manufacturers. Seven of the state’s 19 distilleries submitted entries.
Jane Garvey, a member of the Board of Directors for the Georgia Trustees and co-founder of the event, said she is consistently surprised by what is being accomplished in Georgia’s growing wine industry.
“We added cider and mead a couple of years ago, and this year we added spirits…the economic multiplier from those enterprises is terrific,” said Garvey. “Certainly [surprised by] the growth in quality. The discovery that we can grow varieties that we didn’t think we could grow…”
According to the National Association of American Wineries, Georgia’s wineries generated $88 million in annual tourism expenses in 2017 and contributed a whopping $4.1 billion to the economy through its related industries. Since the early 2000s, the wine industry has seen a massive shift in profit and productivity.
“It’s growing leaps and bounds. There are new wineries popping up monthly,” said Charles Cowart, owner of Still Pond Vineyard and Distillers in Arlington. “When we opened our winery in 2003, we were the only winery south of Atlanta. Now I think there were 27 to 28 wineries in the state at that time. We’re coming close to a hundred wineries now. It’s growing…we’re seeing a big upsurge in alcohol production within the state.”
Following a reception and dinner, guests at the event sat for the awards announcements.
Categories were judged based on quality, flavor and distinction. Some of the awards presented include the Oglethorpe Award for the best wine using Georgia-grown grapes and the Monarch Award for best fruit wine.
“It’s a fantastic event…this is our customer base here” Cowart said. “We’re only distributed in the state of Georgia.”
For more information about the Georgia Trustees or the annual event, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Georgia-Trustees-Wine-Spirits-Challenge-487847838425122/.