Saving the Land – with Healthy Benefits

Posted by rocdoc7

Many studies have shown that consuming moderate amounts of wine, especially the red variety, can have health benefits by lowering cholesterol and preventing heart disease. They key word is “moderation” in this context, as alcohol consumption can lead to other problems if it’s not limited to small amounts. Researchers suggest that the low average cholesterol levels of French citizens are related to regular, but moderate, consumption of red wine. See, for example, this article on Fox News.  

A seemingly unrelated topic is land conversion in Georgia.  Rudi Kiefer, Ph.D., published an article in the Georgia Sierran this year discussing the loss of land which could be used for food production and/or recreational purposes (http://georgia.sierraclub.org/news/archive/GaSierran_2013_010203.pdf, go to page 8).

A neat example on how farmland could be saved, while making a product that has been shown to have health benefits in the proper setting, is Tiger Mountain Vineyards in Tiger, Georgia (off U.S. 441 near Clayton).

A great deal of the North Georgia landscape has been used up by development in the past 2-3 decades. A similar fate was awaiting the Arrendale farm in Tiger Mountain, Georgia. The fame of the Arrendale name is seen in the Fieldale Corporation, which has been instrumental in making the Gainesville area the poultry food capital of the U.S. Tiger Mountain could be cluttered up with metal buildings by now, had it not been for the Ezzard’s initiative that reached back 5 generations.

Tiger Mountain, Georgia. The fame of the Arrendale name is seen in the Fieldale Corporation, which has been instrumental in making the Gainesville area the poultry food capital of the U.S. Tiger Mountain could be cluttered up with metal buildings by now, had it not been for the Ezzard’s initiative.

In the 1990’s, John Ezzard, M.D., whose grandfather John V. Arrendale founded Black Rock State Park, and his wife Martha decided to save the farmland by establishing a vineyard. Such an undertaking bears economic risks and comes with a huge amount of work in any setting. But producing world-class wines in Georgia seemed an even greater task.

Now, 18 years after the Ezzards started their venture, visitors to Tiger Mountain Vineyards are greeted by a large expanse of meticulously maintained vines, along with a tasting of products that have won awards ahead of Californian and European wines.

The open lyre design allows for maximum sunlight exposure while providing aeration to the plants.

“One particular Southern touch is the Norton variety, which we grew from cuttings obtained in Virginia,” John says. “Our others are vinifera vines. Norton is the only truly native American grape. The dry, full-bodied wine it produces is superb.”

Besides Norton, the challenges in producing wines that come from more exotic grapes are manifold. “Each type of vine likes its own special treatment,” John says while looking over the “open lyre” arrangement of trellises holding the plants.

The open lyre design allows for maximum sunlight exposure while providing aeration to the plants.
“We’re fortunate here in Tiger to have fertile soil with good organic content, good drainage, and not too much clay.  Because of the acidity of Southern soils, it needs to have lime added, of course.”

Martha, who abandoned a career in law and journalism to become a vintner, points out the wildlife problems. “Big ones and little ones,” she says. “We occasionally have to stay out of the way of black bears that arrive just in time when the grapes are ripe. The little ones, especially the Japanese Beetle, are worse. It’s been referred to as a ‘stomach with wings’, and that’s true. Insects can eat the place clean in a matter of days.”

The healthy expanse of green in early summer shows, though, that everything is going well for 2013. Strips of clover underneath the rows provide natural fertilization to the vines.  

Clover has a natural fertilization effect by fixing nitrogen in the soil. Nitrogen is an essential plant nutrient.

 Drought isn’t much of a worry because “they like to be challenged, to grow deep roots,” John explains.  A regular stream of visitors coming for Cabernet Franc, Petit Manseng, Tannat and other wines of international reputation shows that the farm in Tiger has indeed been well preserved. 

More articles on the health benefits of red wine:

Yale-New Haven Hospital : A glass of red wine a day keeps the doctor away

Discovery Fit & Health: Benefits of red wine

Healthdiaries.com: 10 Health Benefits of Red Wine

General inquiries: info@brenau.edu, (770) 534-6299 or (800) 252-5119 | Admissions: admissions@brenau.edu, (770) 534-6100 or (800) 252-5119 ext. 6100