After I visited the MNN offices last week in Atlanta, I took a ride to Persimmon Creek Vineyards in Clayton, Ga. Back in July, I wrote a post on this sustainable winery and a review of their Seyval Blanc — a crisp white that I liked very much.
When Mary Ann and Sonny Hardman, owners of Persimmon Creek, found out I was going to be in Georgia, they graciously invited me to come and take a look at their vineyards and their operations. They also invited me to spend a night in one of their cottages. Spending a couple of days behind the scenes at a vineyard was something I could not pass up.
I learned a lot about the vineyard’s commitment to sustainability in the two days I was there, but I wanted to share with you specifically the thing that impressed me the most — the Hardman’s commitment to polyculture. Polyculture is the planting of many different plants in the same place so that there is biodiversity on the farm. Polyculture encourages beneficial insects (such as ladybugs and bees) to live on the farm. It preserves the nutrients in the soil and benefits the wine by giving Persimmon Creek’s wines a “taste of the place” as I heard Mary Ann say several times while I was there.
The best way I can share the beauty, sustainability and polyculture of Persimmon Creek Vineyards with you on this blog is to show it to you. Enjoy this beautiful farm.
In addition to the varieties of grapes that are grown for the wines, there are patches of vegetables all throughout the farm that get rotated from year to year. The Hardman's 15-year-old son has a couple of corn crops growing. He is planning on turning the corn into ethanol with help of his science teacher.
Another crop that pops up all over the land is gourds. These green ones were just harvested. The gourds are everywhere on the farm being used for food and ornamentation.
The Hardman’s also raise sheep that graze on a various spots of the farm. They are in the process of creating cheese out of sheep’s milk that they will age in an old existing stone structure on the farm’s property. The creek runs right under the stone structure, making it a natural food storage facility.
Quartz is natural to the land. It’s purposely left beneath the vines so that the sun will bounce off of the white rocks and onto the grapes. It helps to warm them and assists in the ripening process.
I found flowering plants of all kinds at each turn on the farm. The diversity of plants brings in the beneficial bugs (which farmers simply call beneficials). Mary Ann has planted zinnias in honor of grandmother who loved them, and these colorful flowers attract the butterflies. Butterflies are natural pollinators.
Sure all of this biodiversity and polyculture is good for the earth, but is it good for the wine? I’d have to say yes because the wines that Persimmon Creek produces are really fine. Here, Mary Ann opens a bottle in the tasting room after giving a private tour of the vineyards.
Finally, a small peak at the cottage I stayed in. I only wished I had been there two weeks later so that all the leaves had changed outside that picture window in the bathroom. Can anyone say, “honeymoon cottage?” I stayed in one of three cottages on the property that are unplugged, isolated, and full of sustainable touches like organic, fair trade, bird friendly coffee and biodegradable toiletries.
MNN homepage photo: Persimmon Creek