Georgia is a state in the southeast of the United States, bordered by Alabama to the west and Florida to the south. Georgia was once among the largest wine-producing states in the country, but the early advent of Prohibition here – 13 years before the nationwide ban on the manufacture and sale of alcohol came into force – killed off the Georgian wine industry until the 1980s. Today, Georgia is one of the most important wine-producing states in the south-eastern US, and vinifera, hybrid and native grape varieties are grown here for the production of wine.
Viticulture in Georgia takes place largely in the southernmost stretches of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are also home to wine regions in Virginia and North Carolina. Here, in this northern part of Georgia, altitudes of between 1300ft and 2200ft (400-670m) above sea level provide a suitable environment for grape vines, tempering some of the heat and humidity usually associated with the Georgian climate.
The cooler, drier conditions in North Georgia make it possible to grow vines of several species and produce wines of respectable quality. While the native, humidity-resistant variety of Muscadine thrives on the lower-lying land in southern Georgia, the vineyards in the hills of North Georgia are planted to both hybrid and vinifera varieties. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay all do well here, and growers have had some success with the Petit Manseng grape variety of South West France.
The mountain soils of Georgia's viticultural areas are largely based on granite, and their high mineral content and low fertility make them well suited to viticulture. The vigor and yield of the vines are reduced in these free-draining soils, increasing the quality of the berries and subsequently the wines.
Since the Georgia Farm Winery Act of 1983 freed up growers in the state to produce wines, the Georgian wine industry has been growing rapidly. The state's total vineyard coverage has more than trebled in the past decade, although it still falls far short of a similar-sized state such as New York.
Wines from Georgia USA are not to be confused with those of Georgia, the former Soviet state at the junction between Europe and Asia and arguably the world's oldest wine region.