For us in the wine industry, Thanksgiving couldn’t come at a better time. After the frantic days of harvest and the busy tasting room in October, November provides a welcome respite. Our work in the cellar is more focused, concerned more with tweaking than shaping. The tasting room is quieter and we have a bit more time to chat with our guests. This bit of downtime allows me to sit and reflect on the year and really meditate on thankfulness.
We’ll be celebrating our fourth year as a tasting room in May, and I can’t begin to express how thankful I am for our guests. From the beginning we’ve become fast friends with so many people that we’ve met across the bar in our tasting room. It feels so callous to refer to anyone who comes though our door as merely a customer. Anyone who comes into our tasting room is making a conscious decision to give Georgia wines a try, and almost without exception each person comes in with an open mind and a great attitude. We genuinely enjoy meeting each and every one of you, and we couldn’t be the business we are without you. Your support allows us to pursue a sometime-quixotic hobby-turned-livlihood, and I can’t thank you enough for that.
I’m thankful that after 5 years, I feel like we are beginning to find our way as a business and as a winery. We’ve tried a number of different experiments, but I think that we’re finally beginning to understand what we’re good at and what our vineyards will give us. This is hugely important, this harmony with our vineyards. After a rough start and a couple of harvests, we can begin working with our land and know with some confidence what we can expect each season. Without a doubt there are things we can do differently and changes that we can (and will) make. But now, coming off of another fairly successful season, I can begin thinking about how to work as a partner with the land rather than against it.
I’m so, so thankful for our other Georgia wineries. There are over thirty of us now and it’s hard for me to think of any of them as strictly competition. Most are friends, and each winery is doing its part to raise the profile of the wine industry in Georgia. We’re thankful to be a part of the Upper Hiwassee Highlands AVA, and we’re hopeful that other wine regions in Georgia also receive the recognition they deserve. Georgia held its first state-wide wine competition this year, and I hope that we continue with this in future years. Competition pushes all of us to “up our game” and make the absolute best wines that we’re capable of. This can only be a good thing for the industry as a whole.
Finally, words can’t express how thankful I am for my family. I couldn’t ask for better partners in this crazy venture. If any one of us were missing from this equation, we would not be half as successful as we’ve been. Liz has just been fantastic managing the business and the tasting room, and Sanford has miraculously turned a horse pasture into acres of premium wine grapes. Hightower Creek Vineyards is very truly a family business, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So happy Thanksgiving. I hope your food is great and your wine is better. Above all, I hope you are among family and friends with the opportunity to express your thankfulness!