South Georgia Wine Festival is a wine taster’s extravaganza.
Planning a southern wedding, dinner for friends, or a wine and cheese boat ride down the lake? The right Georgia-grown wine can make your heart sing.
In recent years, Georgia grown wines have become on-trend choices for southern celebrations because they taste great and, as an added bonus, they are good for your heart. Wine selection benefits from knowing your wines, and where better to learn than at a wine tasting extravaganza with a delightful bit of “see, swirl, smell and sip.”
Plan to attend the upcoming South Georgia Wine Festival on March 12, 2022, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. at Paulk Vineyards in Wray. The day-long festival features wineries from throughout southern Georgia plus some special guest north Georgia wineries. All in one location, you can enjoy each winery’s full wine menu, buy wine and other specialty products, and benefit from direct buys.
Paulk Vineyards has bragging rights as the world’s largest muscadine vineyard. When they host an event, expect great wine tasting and more. The event offers a full day of free family-style festival fun: musicians, artisans and food vendors, games, vineyard tours and “pick your own” opportunities. Advanced, Early Bird wine tasting tickets are $30, and at-the-door $40. The wine tasting is indoors, and your ticket buys access to all tasting stations.
A bouquet of options
Wine enthusiasts can visit multiple wineries in a single day in North Georgia, but not so in South Georgia where the wineries are spread too far apart. So, the Paulks organized the Festival to present in one destination all of the wines being made in that region of the state.
“Paulk Vineyards is excited to host so many of our Georgia winery friends,"
says Jorjanne Paulk, Retail & Events Manager. “To make it fun, we break tasting down into four simple steps: see, swirl, smell and sip. Follow our tasting notes and make your own as you decide which wines are your favorites.”
Each winery will showcase their product line and offer a smorgasbord of tastes from traditional to specialty wines infused with natural fruit flavors that surprise, delight, and add a unique twist on southern grapes. Also find non-alcoholic jams, juices and wine-based health supplements as well as fresh, hand-picked grapes.
Notes Paulk, “If you’re planning a wedding, make the day a ‘tasting twosome’ with your future spouse. Or if you just love good wines or muscadines and want to enjoy a delightful, fun-filled day in the country, that’s reason enough to come with friends or family or even with your nice fur baby on a leash. This is a family-friendly event for all ages.”
A vintage timeline
Paulk Vineyards has family at its heart. The Paulks have owned land in Irwin County since the 1800’s. In 1957, young Jacob Willis Paulk Sr., also known to all as “Papa Jacob,” was gifted a small farm from his father, then bought more of his daddy’s land for $50 an acre. He wanted to grow cotton. Fighting the boll weevil and decline of cotton as Georgia’s cash crop eventually convinced Papa Jacob to move away from traditional row crops and grow unique fruits and vegetables.
Farming is never easy. As years passed, Papa Jacob tried and failed with a variety of crops. Then, in 1970, he planted muscadines — a native grape that thrives in acid-rich, Georgia soil and suffers few diseases or pests. Papa Jacob made a success of growing grapes.
However, on the way to success, Papa Jacob had a failing heart and open-heart surgery at age 45, and more heart problems in the late 1990’s. This led him to researchers at the University of Georgia, and studies from other research centers and the National Institute of Health. Numerous studies suggest muscadine’s potential to support cellular function that can translate into benefits for cardiovascular health, brain function, digestion, immunity, men’s health, and liver detoxification. Determined to change his life’s course, Papa Jacob started drying and grinding muscadine seeds and filling capsules for his own consumption.
In 1976, his second son, Gary, returned to work the farm with his father. Then, in the 1990s, his youngest son, J.W. Junior, joined them. The growers added blackberries and strawberries — two more fruits packed with heart health benefits. And Papa Jacob ate what he grew.
Fate to full-bodied finish
In 2002, The Food Network featured Papa Jacob as the world’s largest grower of muscadines. In a YouTube video, they told of Papa Jacob using muscadines as a health supplement. Suddenly, calls came all day long requesting capsules. When the story aired on the West Coast, orders flooded in all night. Papa Jacob called his grandson, Chris, for help and their muscadine health supplement business—now Muscadine Products Corporation—was born.
Papa Jacob lived to age 85. He took no prescription medications until he was fitted with a pacemaker in the last few years of his life. Then, he took only a blood thinner. Today, Muscadine Products Corporation offers five finished product supplements and juices to the public. And they are a supplier to the dietary supplement industry. Later, Paulk Vineyards added muscadine wine production.
Today, Paulk Vineyards is home to six estate-grown muscadine wines, each named for a family member, plus a rose, a dessert wine, three fruit wines, and an entire line of unique fruit flavor-infused muscadine wines.
Paulk Vineyards’ wines have received many awards. Some include: USA Wine Ratings (2021) gold medal for the wine named “Hugo” and silver medals for “County Line Road” and “Pearl,” “Satilla Road,” and “Highway 32.” Georgia Trustees Wine Challenge Best Red Muscadine Wine for “Lott” (2020) and for “Jacob” (2019). Paulk Vineyards won the Florida State Fair Wine & Grape Juice Competition 2019 - Double Gold for “Rachel,” and multiple gold, silver, and bronze ratings in other competitions.
Sip, sip, hooray!
At the festival, your wine tasting pass offers an amazing variety of delicious wines. Each winery has their own special menu. For example, Paulk Vineyards’ options include “The Family” (six muscadine wines), “The Farm” (five wines made from fruit named for places around the farm), “Sweet Tree” (six muscadine wines infused with other fruit flavors), or “Pick Your Own” (choose any five wines you'd like to try).
Concludes Paulk, “Couple tasting great wines with a day-long festival plus enjoying nature’s wonders, meeting the locals, and discover what makes Georgia muscadine wines unique — there’s no wonder the South Georgia Wine Festival is ranked as one of Georgia’s top rated family tourism events. Come join the fun!”
For more information about the South Georgia Wine Festival, see below, or call 229-468-7873, email Jorjanne Paulk at winery@paulkvineyards, or go to the webpage, www.southgeorgiawinefestival.com.
For more information on nutritional benefits of muscadines, visit www.nobilityproducts.com.
Southern Georgia Wineries invited to the festival:
Bell Farms Rabbiteye
Five Points Berries Winery
Gin Creek Plantation
Jail Creek Farms
Still Pond Vineyards
Warm Springs Winery
Special-guest North Georgia wineries:
Paulk Vineyard is located at 1788 Satilla Rd., Wray, GA 31798.
From Lake Oconee, go to Interstate 75 South. Then take I-75 South to Exit 78. Head east on GA Hwy 32 E 16.2 miles. Slight right to stay on Ga-32 E 19.1 miles. Turn right on to Old Coffee Rd 2.5 miles. Turn right onto Satilla Road. Paulk Vineyards is on right 0.7 mi. Drive through Paulk Vineyards to the South Georgia Wine Festival.
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Story by Judi Martha Collins, photos contributed by Paulk Vineyards, published in the January-February 2022 issue of Lakelife magazine.