Ball Ground could soon be site of only winery in Cherokee
by Megan Thornton
mthornton@cherokeetribune.com
March 16, 2013 12:00 AM | 2244 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BALL GROUND — Ball Ground may soon be home to the only winery in Cherokee County.

At Thursday’s City Council meeting, the council unanimously approved the first reading of a farm winery ordinance and the first reading of an annexation of 24 acres at 9975 Ball Ground Highway.

Mayor Rick Roberts and council member John Byrd were absent.

Applicants David and Julie Boone attended the meeting and said they can now move forward with applying for state and federal licenses to begin their family farm winery.

David Boone said he hopes to be selling wine within the next three to six months out of Wildcat on a Wing, a handmade craft gallery.

He said they have been testing grapes on the land for the past four seasons.

“We’ve determined which vines grow better at this altitude and tastes good as well,” he told council. “So those are the types of vines we’re planting large-scale.”

He added he’s in talks with a North Carolina apple farm to make apple-flavored wines.

After the meeting, Boone said it typically takes a minimum of three years to start producing wine, but they may be able to produce a muscadine wine this coming season.

Boone said he is working with a consultant from Three Sisters Vineyards in Dahlonega, and as part of the agreement, he will sell wines from the Dahlonega winery at his own wine bar at Wildcat.

He added he has not finalized a name for his winery, but is considering Peterson Branch Wine at Wildcat.

A farm winery is permitted under the present Agricultural zoning for a majority of the land, while a two-acre portion of the land is zoned Commercial where Wildcat on a Wing is located.

The farm winery ordinance applies to both farm wineries and wine tasting rooms under Georgia code, City Manager Eric Wilmarth said.

“This ordinance is modeled after the ordinance currently in place in the city of Dahlonega,” Wilmarth said, noting the city has a “good number” of both of these types of businesses.

Wilmarth said the ordinance paves the way for the Boones to get a state-required license to have a winery and tasting room in the city.

In the long-term, Wilmarth said he will work with City Attorney Darrell Caudill on revamping its alcohol-related ordinances.

“At that point, we’re going to have one ordinance that deals with alcohol from start to finish,” Wilmarth said.

Caudill said the farm winery ordinance is regulated by the state Department of Revenue.

The council also:

* Approved the city’s short term work program, which outlines all of the capital improvements, including facility and service enhancements, the city plans to initiate over the next five years. Wilmarth said the plan will be posted on the city website for public view;

* Approved the report of accomplishments, which includes projects the city has begun and/or completed in recent years, including downtown streetscapes and improvements to Calvin Farmer Park;

* Approved an administrative change to the Valley Overlay District zoning ordinance to reference the correct page number in the master plan;

* Approved authorization of bids to resurface Old Dawsonville Road;

* Heard the presentation of the financial audit for the period ending June 30, 2012. James Vince, a representative from Mauldin & Jenkins LLC, said his firm had no findings to report;

* Heard from Ball Ground Lions Club members Gary Adkins and Glen Densmore, Jr., requested to lease one of the mobile units on the campus of the former Ball Ground Elementary School for meetings and storage purposes;

* Heard from Lucille Rich, president of the Ball Ground Historical Society, who requested the council consider building a welcome center for the city and also suggested repairs to the Ball Ground Community Center, located at 250 Civic Drive; and

* Canceled an executive session to discuss acquisition of real estate because the property owner did not submit price information on time.
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