Related story: Inn kicks off new incarnation with ornament
The 1810 Country Inn and Winery might remind some people of Europe with its historic buildings and its grape vines emerging in tidy rows across the fertile vineyard.
1810 Country Inn and Winery Manager Thomas DeRossett III gives a tour of the winery. Click here for more photos
Photos by Jason B. Smith and Kristopher Wells
But this Thomson establishment, scheduled for a grand opening Oct. 15, is 100 percent Georgia.
"It's all about Southern hospitality," said manager Thomas DeRossett III.
Mr. DeRossett and the rest of the staff want to extend that Southern hospitality from the inn, which has been open several years, to the new restaurant and boutique farm winery.
The expanded business will continue to showcase the best traditions of the classic south with good food and wine offered in a casually elegant atmosphere, Mr. DeRossett said.
Visitors can choose from several Georgia wines including traditional favorites as well as some new varieties. Although grapes from the 1810 Country Inn and Winery vineyards won't be ready to harvest for two years because the newly established vineyard must mature, the company has been leasing vat space in Georgia wineries farther north using Georgia grapes. Visitors will get a taste of the result during a limited release of some varieties during the grand opening.
In addition to wine, visitors can browse through gourmet wine accompaniments, pottery and other giftware that will be available in the gift shop. Adjacent to the gift shop is the vinting room where patrons can view the three vat process through plate glass windows.
The local vineyard is planted with carefully selected red and white grape varieties that, when mature, will be transformed into wine in the vinting room and will come complete with a local label. Established wine making techniques will meet high tech practices in the wine lab where an array of instruments will help master winemaker Ralph Montone and apprentices Trevor DeRossett and Gary Starr to fine tune the product.
Although aided by technology, the ancient art of wine making calls for constant care.
Mr. DeRossett looks at one of the classic vehicles on the property. Click here for more photos
Photos by Jason B. Smith and Kristopher Wells
"You've got to love that wine every day," Mr. DeRossett said.
That attention to quality will be carried over into the new tasting bar and restaurant where executive chef Jeff Sommer will create modern American cuisine with regional southern flair, such as pan fried catfish with gulf shrimp and cheese grits.
"I plan to provide the finest dining experience by using the finest ingredients to blend the food and the wine," said Mr. Sommer, who came to the restaurant from the Ritz-Carlton in Greensboro.
While patrons dine, they can enjoy a panoramic view of the vineyard through windows on three sides. The fourth wall of the restaurant showcases a mural by local artist Richard Worth. While painting the vineyards and grounds, Mr. Worth made sure to include the inn's "mascot," Mr. P, a full feathered peacock who roams the area like a sentry.
Mr. P is an unusual mascot, but the entire experience of the 1810 Country Inn and winery is unique, Mr. DeRossett said.
When the DeRossett family and business partners first viewed the West House four years ago, they were struck by a sense of beauty and history.
"It rem-inded us of the classic south. We wanted to be part of that," he said.
With an emphasis on friendliness and a feeling of family, "a visit to the inn is a little bit like going to Grandma's."
Some visitors are reminded of "Grandma's," or perhaps a private museum of the south, when they enter the inn. Furnished with historically accurate pieces, the inn contains an array of samples of southern art, crafts and workmanship.
A framed memory quilt, crafted by the mother of a civil war soldier, is embroidered with names of men in her son's regiment, and portraits with autographs of famous southerners decorate the dining room.
From original oil paintings depicting significant historical events to pewter and silver accent pieces, the furnishings attest to the history of the Thomson area and the south.
The inn reflects the superb craftsmanship of the Thomson area builders while representing traditional architecture inspired by the Virginia ancestry of the first inhabitants.
Though steeped in history, everything about the inn is not antique. Modern touches, such as a swimming pool, provide comfort for guests and community members participating in planned events.
The inn and three outlying cabins can handle up to 20 guests, making it ideally suited for group events such as weddings.
Among the future events will be harvest celebrations where "we will invite the public to a grape crushing," he said.
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