Sparkling Wine from Georgia? No, Not That Georgia, the Other One!

16th May 2023

Georgia winery

The wine profile of the country of Georgia has been rising these last few years. So, when you consider fine sparkling wine, this ancient winemaking country may come to mind. What you probably don’t think about is wine from the state of Georgia in the United States. While the country of Georgia continues to make news, the sparkling wines of Wolf Mountain Vineyards are quietly making waves.

Karl Boegner started the business with his wife, Linda, in 1999, and continues to oversee its operations. Their children, Brannon and Lindsey, along with her husband Stephen Smith, manage it day to day. Their first still wine debuted in 2001 using only Georgia grown fruit, which continues to be the focus of the Wolf Mountain Vineyards label today.

Dahlonega Plateau AVA

The mountain top winery and hospitality venue is breathtaking. It lies within the Dahlonega Plateau AVA in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in North Georgia. The 1,800-foot elevation provides an ideal environment for growing Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Mourvedre, Tannat, Petite Verdot, Malbec, and Touriga Nacional. Chardonnay and Viognier, used for both still and sparkling wines, are locally grown under Brannon’s specifications.

Sparkling Wine History

The first vintage of their hand-made traditional method sparkling wine was 2006 and, up until 2009, everything was done by hand. Once production equipment arrived in 2009, only hand riddling remained. Wolf produces 500 bottles/hour and around 1,200 cases each year.

The gorgeous bottle design came from Karl’s appreciation of Perrier-Jouët’s Belle époque design. However, the Wolf Mountain bottles are more deeply sloped and have a wider base to accommodate the label. Each bottle carries a crown cap, a unique feature of these sparkling wines. This idea came from the short-term use of the star cap for Chandon’s Etoile label in California. This type of cap reduces costs, makes opening a bottle a snap for consumers, and preserves the style of wines Wolf Mountain prefers.

“Our style of wine has less time on the yeast, is quicker to disgorgement, and the emphasis is on brighter acidity and less yeasty flavors. It yields a sparkling wine that is versatile with food,” said Brannon.

Even with the focus on acidity and freshness, I can attest to the ability of these wines to age. We recently drank a 2013 Blanc de Blanc that still had these fresh, lively qualities, but revealed a deeper layer of richness and complexity. It was delicious.

Talking about the image of Georgia wines outside the state, Brannon said, “It’s always bothered us that the image of Georgia is Muscadine and that’s what people think. Here in Georgia, we have so many challenges and the fact that we can do this consistently is a tribute to vineyard management, winemaking, and doing things the right way to make a world-class professional product.”

Producing a sparkling wine requires starting with a flawless base wine, which is difficult to do on the east coast. Humidity, heat, frost, mold, mildew, pests, etc., Georgia has it all. So, growing Chardonnay and making sparkling wine works well because grapes are harvested very early, which help avoids most weather-related Russian Roulette events.

Take meticulous grape-growing, expert winemaking, and beautiful design and you end up with a world-class sparkling wine from an unexpected region. The next time someone mentions premium Georgia sparkling wines, tell them about Wolf Mountain Vineyards.

Wolf Mountain Vineyards Sparkling Wines

Below is the current lineup of Wolf Mountain Vineyards sparkling wines.

Blanc de Blancs Brut
The dry, complex premier sparkling Chardonnay is crisp and elegant with notes of citrus, stone fruit, and light spice. Residual sugar 1.5%.

Brut Rosé
To create the rosé, the dosage contains a small amount of the dry red blend, Claret, which turns the wine into a light salmon color and adds complexity and red berry flavors.

Blanc de Blancs Brut Natural
The sister to the Blanc de Blanc made from the same base wine but without dosage. Residual sugar 0%. This wine allows the full expression of mountain grown Georgia Chardonnay.

Blanc de Blancs Reserve Cuvée Brut
Made from the same base wine but aged in new oak for 2-3 months, then finished in steel before the final fermentation in the bottle. It has increased depth, weight, and complexity without the heavy oak components. Notes of crème brûlée, vanilla, and delicate spice.

Jeanne Savelle

After a long career as a corporate finance executive, she is now a wine writer and a life/retirement/transformation guide.