Georgia’s BlackStock Winery Shuts Down

There was sad news yesterday from one of Georgia’s pioneering winemakers – David Harris emailed friends and posted to Facebook that he is closing BlackStock Vineyards and Winery. The reasons cited included “repeated crop losses due to the exceptionally warm winters.” An inconvenient truth, indeed. Harris worked tirelessly over nearly two decades to grow great grapes and make great wine in north Georgia, and he met with a good deal of success until this recent turn of events.

While dealing with weather difficulties is nothing new for growers, there’s an increasing recognition that climate change will be a major concern for wine growers the world over (just Google “climate change and wine” and read the litany of news articles). Seeing warmer winters driving out one of the leaders of Georgia’s young wine industry, though, is truly sobering. Many Georgia winemakers are relying on bringing in grapes from other regions, which may fill the bottles but also undermines hope that Georgia can actually grow worthy grapes.

BlackStock earned many awards for their wines over the years, with a range of merlots and viognier in particular that were among the best Georgia wines made (and which I’ve personally enjoyed very much). BlackStock has also been one of the few Georgia wines readily available at retail in Atlanta.

Here’s the full text of Harris’ letter posted to Facebook:

Dear Friends of Blackstock,

I am very saddened to inform you that we are closing the vineyards and winery at Blackstock. It has been a wonderful experience to get to know all of you and be a source of relaxation, fun times and great pleasure, through hosting you at the vineyard and providing wines for your table. In the end, we have suffered from repeated crop losses due to the exceptionally warm winters and the early bud-break dates. This has resulted in normal frost dates having a devastating effect to our crop. We have also felt the sting from selling fruit in a soft economy and the importation of grapes and wine into Georgia wineries, eroding our market when the crop was plentiful.

I had a wonderful dream and lived it for 17 years, but while pages turn and chapters close, beautiful memories were made in this exceptional setting that will not soon fade, and I must thank you all for being a part of that story. I am especially thankful to our small group of “angel” investors, several of whom have passed away now. This was a very classy group of individuals who shared my vision and dream and saw it come to fruition in every aesthetic way, I am just sorry that we couldn’t make it sustainable.

While, in many ways, our fate was sealed on April 12th, I have been through every scenario imaginable to try to survive, but have also been through the roughest part of the reality emotionally. I have realized that some of our most passionate patrons are going to have a sense of shock and true grieving and, for them, please do not hesitate to reach out by email, FB, or text. I truly hope someone ends up continuing operations here after I have moved on.

Personally, I have been blessed with another opportunity for which I am passionate and thankful. Unfortunately, it is going to take me away from Georgia. I will miss my many friends made at Blackstock, but hope to stay in touch. Here’s to a Happy and Prosperous New Year to you all!

Sincerely,
David A. Harris

Georgia Wine Country

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16 Responses to Georgia’s BlackStock Winery Shuts Down

  1. Royce says:

    It’s a nice novelty, but if we can aside our home state bias and judge honestly, Georgia wine is mediocre at best and swill on average. The idea that quality wine can be produced virtually anywhere is a joke. Georgia’s relentless heat is and always has been the death knell of it’s wine “industry.”

    • Royce, I disagree actually on your first point. While a lot of Georgia wine may be mediocre at best, I’ve had a few that are legitimately very good – including BlackStock’s merlots. I’m not saying great relative to the best in the world, but very good. And there are enough awards given to Georgia wines (on a blind basis) that clearly some educated wine judges agree (no, I don’t put much faith in all these awards, but they are from unbiased sources). There’s no doubt that the climate is not ideal here, but less-than-ideal and impossible are two different things and it seems we’re moving more towards the latter.

  2. leysi ortiz says:

    This is so sad. I really enjoyed BlackStock’s wines, especially the one named after the 3 kids. It is a tough economy and very very sad. This winery has one of the best views in N Georgia. Wish they had a “closing” or “going out of business” kind of day/celebration, pretty sure they’ll make money with faithful customers.

  3. Barbara Johns says:

    I will miss the photo opportunities at BlackStock. I had produced exclusive cards and some framed work for their gallery so hopefully I can sell these somewhere else. I am sorry to see David Harris leave the area and close Blackstock, but blessings to him and his family and staff for adding a lot of beauty in the Dahlonega hills. Barb Johns Photography
    barbjohns@windstream.net

  4. Judine Kerr says:

    My husband and I found Blackstock winery after our son attended a wedding there several years ago and brought us a bottle of Blackstock White Merlot. When my husband realized how much I enjoyed it he bought a case of it and hid the gift wrapped bottles all over the house as a fun Birthday gift. That prompted a visit to the winery where I fell in love with the crisp winter air and the great wines we tasted. While it was indeed a very good White Merlot, it was the other wines that caught our taste buds, especially the desert wines. I read above that you cannot expect GA to produce a competitive wine, but we totally disagree. Blackstock will be sorely missed!

  5. Britt says:

    I stumbled across this post and was shocked… I was just there in December. So sad to see it go… I’ll definitely remember their Voignier fondly. -B.L.

    http://neobellenoir.wordpress.com
    B.Elle.Blogging@gmail.com

  6. Tom Bianco says:

    Sad, They had some amazing wines!!!

  7. Bailey B. says:

    I was just drinking a bottle of my most favorite and amazing wine-the Rocking Chair Red tonight when I decided to look up Blackstock and see if there were any special events. Apparently, I am delayed in the very saddened news!!! Blackstock Vineyards was then place were my husband and I got engaged, this vineyard/winery is truly a gem and will be missed by myself and my husband. I am going to go around ATL tomorrow and purchase any remaining Blackstock wine I find and savor every bottle!

  8. zane reece says:

    sad day indeed, as my wife and I were married at Blackstock. Sad that we will not be able to enjoy this place for years to come.

    • B. Elle says:

      I THINK Whole Foods Buckhead might still have some… don’t quote me though.

    • Christie R says:

      I agree, as 7 years ago my husband and were also married there. So beautiful! I wish many more could have experienced such a wonderful vineyard and winery. At least we still have our Blackstock glasses to toast every anniversary!

    • jeff Wino says:

      Buy the place–the bank would love you to be come a “little ole wine maker”!

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  11. Andrew says:

    We are opening the doors once again! Standby for a new name, a new look, and a new experience…we’ll see you all soon!

  12. Frances says:

    Andrew-Do you have an update about the re-opening of Blackstock? We have a vacation home a couple of miles away & were thrilled to see the For Sale sign was gone!

Comments welcome, y'all!