After four years of paperwork, petitions, and substantial evidence that Western North Carolina and Northeast Georgia has a unique natural boundary and growing conditions unlike any other neighboring region, an American Viticultural Area (AVA) known as Upper Hiwassee Highlands was designated to our region! This prestigious designation includes parts of Clay County and Cherokee County in North Carolina and Towns and Union Counties in Georgia. The Upper Hiwassee Watershed acts perfectly as the natural boundary for the eight wineries that fall into the Upper Hiwassee Highlands AVA.
An American Viticultural Area designation is not an easy process and they are not freely given out. The majority of AVAs are located in California with notorious names like Napa Valley and Sonoma. The Upper Hiwassee Highlands region makes the fourth designation for North Carolina and the first ever for Georgia! 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 go to www.VisitBlairsvilleGa.com.