Ball Ground artists Julie and David Boone say they have always liked to “grow things” whether it be a business, a garden or a piece of art.
With the opening of Feathers Edge Vineyards on the 24 acres where they operate their art gallery just north of town, the Boones are putting their dreams into flight.
The two are the force behind the popular Wildcat on a Wing gallery and shop, which they started in 1996 on what they call “a wing and a prayer.”
David gained national recognition in the mid-1980s for his handmade and beautiful birdhouses, which led the couple on the first step of their evolving journey.
Now, with 5 acres of grapes, a stunning tasting room, seating area and entertainment garden for gatherings and events, the couple say they are truly pushing their dream to the edge, and that is how Feathers Edge got its name.
“First we were winging it, and now we going from the wing to the feathers,” David Boone said. “Wineries are things you start, but never finish. But we don’t mind waiting to see the results.”
Visitors seem to love the results so far, and are flocking to taste the locally sourced wines created for the new winery, as well as selections offered from two of North Georgia’s oldest and most popular wineries, the Georgia Winery in Ringgold and Three Sisters Vineyards and Winery near Dahlonega.
This fall the couple will begin the process of making wine from the first harvest of grapes grown on the property.
About nine years ago, David began to wonder how he could attract more birds to the property. Following a shoulder injury he no longer makes his famous bird houses, although during his career as an artist he made about 60,000 of them, he said.
“Our interest in birds increased and Julie had the idea to plant hemlocks and other plantings to attract the birds,” he said. “Then I asked myself how we could attract even more birds.”
The first phase of the winery was the planting of 300 vines, including seven species of grapes, eight years ago.
“We were seeing at this altitude what grapes we could grow best, and we then grew them up to maturity,” he said.
The vineyard is at an altitude of 1,260 feet and the ideal elevation to grow grapes for wine is usually 1,100 to 2,200 feet, he said, which puts his vineyard in the range. The vines also need southward facing slopes such as those found on the property.
Out of the seven, three varieties were chosen – Norton, Blanc du Bois, and Catawba. The Nortons will be the first harvested.
About nine months ago, the tasting room opened to the public, and since has been the scene of great music, good food and celebrations.
The four wines featured exclusively include Taliwa Red, named for the battle of Taliwa between the Creeks and the Cherokee Native Americans in the area.
Cotton Fields is a white table wine named by David. The popular Etowah Shoals, a red blend named for the nearby river, and Sliding Rock, a dry white Vidal Blanc chosen to remember an area on Wildcat Creek, round out the quartet.
The indoor and outdoor area can accommodate up to 65 visitors, with most of the seating on the porch and outside, making the space ideal to sit and sip wine or enjoy the food pairings that are often offered.
A small stage sits at the edge of the garden, with the forest beyond as a backdrop. Musicians are featured most weekends for the enjoyment of the customers.
The closest winery to Atlanta, it is also perhaps the only one in the area to feature an artists gallery, where customers enter to make their way to the tasting room.
David and Julie designed the bar and décor of the room, and both are works of art. David embossed copper to embellish the bar with scenes of the mountains, birds and grapevines.
“We visited a lot of tasting rooms, and some were simple and some were elaborate.” Julie said. “David built the bar out of copper, brass and cedar.”
The two have been married for 32 years and met when they worked at TransDesign, an art company in the Sixes area that is no longer in business.
Nowadays, they are pouring all their energy into their new venture. During the summer they held a trout dinner that drew large crowds and rave reviews. They feature food by such popular local chefs as Lori Grizzle.
For the fall and holiday season, visitors can enjoy many of the wine offerings while traveling through the area to view the leaves, shop for local wares or hunt for apples and other local fare.
For information on hours and events visit Feathers Edge Vineyards’ Facebook page or call (770) 735-6923.
Feathers Edge Vineyards is at 10061 Ball Ground Highway, Ball Ground.