A little slice of McDuffie County has come to resemble the wine region of Alsace in France with the expansion of a historic bed-and-breakfast that includes a tidy vineyard and an upscale restaurant.
The 1810 Country Inn and Winery joins several new upscale businesses that signal economic growth in Thomson, said McDuffie County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Caroline Gilbert.
"I am delighted we have these new restaurants coming in. (The 1810) has a nice, sit-down restaurant that will have a positive influence on our tourism and local economy," she said.
The 1810, tucked away off Interstate 20 near the heart of Thomson, is anchored by the historic West House, a 200-year-old Plantation Plains home that showcases a room-by-room account of Southern culture and history. New owners recently added the boutique farm winery, which will offer several types of Georgia wines, and the restaurant, which will feature modern American cuisine with regional Southern flair.
"It's all about Southern hospitality," said Manager Thomas DeRossett III, whose family invested in the limited partnership that owns the business.
The winery, which opened this month, will offer both red and white varieties, all made from Georgia grapes. Although grapes from The 1810 vineyard won't be ready to harvest until the plants mature, the company is offering selections through a leasing arrangement with other Georgia wineries.
"We're all about Georgia wines," Mr. DeRossett said.
Patrons can view the three-vat wine-making process through plate-glass windows where master wine maker Ralph Montone monitors the procedure using time-honored methods supported by an array of modern equipment.
In the restaurant, patrons can enjoy a panoramic view of the vineyards through large windows while sampling some Southern favorites with a twist, such as pan-fried catfish with cheese grits.
"I plan to provide the finest dining experience by using the finest ingredients to blend the food and the wine," said executive chef Jeff Sommer, who came from the Ritz-Carlton in Greensboro, Ga. Mr. DeRossett said The 1810 is a popular location for celebrations such as weddings and parties. Future events will include a harvest festival where the community will be invited to join in a grape crushing, he said.