Whitfield commissioners expected to vote on farm winery licenses | Local News

The Whitfield County Board of Commissioners is due to vote Monday on packaged wine and pour wine licenses for Deep Springs Vineyard, a farm winery slated to open this fall at 1606 Beaverdale Road NE Visitors could tour the winery, sample wines and buy them.

The commissioners meet at 6 p.m. at the Wink Theater, 115 W. Crawford St. in Dalton. The meeting will be streamed on the county’s Facebook page and viewers can ask questions by commenting there.

Deep Springs Vineyard owner Michael Roberts has been making wine as a hobby for 45 years and growing grapes for about 25 years.

“When we open the doors, we’ll have 20 different labels on our wine list available,” he said earlier this year.

On-farm wineries that make and sell wines and grow the fruits and berries used to make the wines are common in Fannin, Gilmer, and Pickens counties. Last year, the Board of Commissioners approved legislation allowing wineries to operate here.

Georgia law requires agricultural wineries to produce at least 40% of their wine from fruits and berries grown in Georgia, must be on property “of which a substantial portion is used for agricultural purposes,” and must cultivate a “substantial part” of the fruit and berries used to make their wine.

“We started our first batch,” Roberts said. “We have three more batches that we are going to start. We are going to do most of the summer (making wine) with various fruits, strawberries, blueberries. We make a mixed berry wine.

Roberts has planted about 400 vines so far and plans to plant another 300 this year. Some of the vines he planted are two years old and some are three. He said that at three years the vines will produce about 75% of their final total grapes. He said it would take five years for each vine to be fully productive. He said that at that time each vine will produce enough grapes to produce about 1.25 gallons of wine. One gallon equals five bottles.

“These are premium grapes,” he said.

The winery has a capacity of 2,000 gallons, and Roberts said he can make up to three batches a year.

Commissioners are also called upon to:

• Appoint an interim director for the Public Works Department. Former manager DeWayne Hunt recently left to take a job in the private sector, according to county officials.

“We would like to thank DeWayne Hunt for his 12 years of service in public works for the county and its citizens,” said Board of Commissioners Chairman Jevin Jensen. “We wish him well in his new role in the private sector and are confident that he will succeed.”

• Adopt the policies, procedures and eligibility criteria of the Federal Community Housing Investment Program (CHIP). The commissioners accepted a CHIP grant of $400,000 at their June meeting. The funds will be used to rehabilitate owner-occupied single-family homes of very low-income homeowners. The qualifying income level depends on the number of people living in the house.

The commissioners have announced their intention to begin accepting applications for the program in late summer or early fall.

• Accepted a $486,225 agreement with Shaw Sports Turf for an artificial turf field at Westside Park and a $307,000 agreement with Musco Lighting of Oskaloosa, Iowa, for field lighting. Both contracts would be funded by the county’s share of the Local Special Purpose Options Sales Tax (SPLOST) of $66 million over four years for 2020.

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