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Chateau Elan Winery

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“The first Europeans to explore North America, a Viking expedition from Greenland, called it Vinland because of the profusion of grape vines they found. The earliest wine made in what is now the United States was produced between 1562 and 1564 by French Huguenot settlers from Scuppernong grapes at a settlement near Jacksonville, Florida. In the early American colonies of Virginia and the Carolinas, wine making was an official goal laid out in the founding charters. ”

Since the first vine was planted here thirty years ago in the small town of Braselton, Georgia there has been a passion to create wines that would be appreciated not only by the local population, but by lovers of wine the world over. The most recent carrier of this torch is Simone Bergese. Since Simone's arrival we have made some fundamental changes to our wine program that have taken us to new heights in quality.

First among these changes was an overhaul of our Estate Vineyard. Many of the vines that we had been struggling to maintain over the last few decades had fallen prey to a serious case of Pierce's Disease. This disease was diminishing the yield of our estate vineyard and ultimately affecting the quality of our wines. Rather than going through an extensive chemical treatment that ultimately would have not given any resolution to the grape quality issue, Simone opted for a more natural solution. Replanting. All of these diseased vines were removed from the vineyard and replaced with the right varieties. Instead of replanting the same type of vines that had struggled for so long in our unique Georgia climate, Simone chose to go in a different direction. He chose to replant this area's native flora, the muscadine vines, specifically the varieties Carlos and Noble.

When we decided to embrace our local terroir, planting the local muscadine varieties here on property, it meant finding a new source for vinifera grapes. Extremely driven by the terroir concept, which is based on the fundamental truth that every vineyard site gives an unique expression to the wine made from the grapes that are grown on it,  Simone selected vineyards in the top areas of California. From Lake County to Paso Robles, Simone found the earth he wanted to work with.  In cooperation with several farm vineyards there we are now supplied with some of the finest classic vinifera grapes the country has to offer. Check out our Vineyards page for more information on where our grapes are grown.

The true expression of the territory and of each of the over 20 varieties we work with is enhanced by adopting specific winemaking techniques that Simone developed over his 20 years of winemaking across the world. Among those techniques, progressive and extended surly for both red and white wines, extremely low level of sulfites, zero tolerance for fining agents of any nature, no filtration on all dry red wines and a very meticulous French barrel program.

All of our wines undergo the same basic quality process, the difference between their final tear depends only by the natural “talent” that the wine will develop and show. Simone’s standards of grape quality allow him to work on a different level of winemaking, which is determined by the product, never by the market. His style and inputs definitely show on our wines but never overpower the true identity of the varieties.

The end results are wines that show complexity, sometimes elegant, sometimes powerful, sometimes they will remind you of your Southern grandmother's backyard muscadine berries and other times they will remind you of Italy, or France, or Napa, or Spain…

As he says, it is not just about making or drinking wine, it is an emotional experience for you and a form of art for him.

Salute!