Wineries have changed the economy of Dahlonega, Young Harris and Braselton, and are continuing to spread to our area.
Newby Farm & Vineyard is a hit on Broad Street with more planned at the vineyard itself off Billy Pyle Road. Big Door Vineyards, just off Ga. 20 near White, is a huge draw, especially on weekends. Several others are emerging nearby as well.
Next up is Paris Mountain Vineyards near Rockmart, where harvesting — and building — are underway. Scott and Susan Dodson have been nurturing land and projects for several years with a spring public debut expected.
The winery is south of Rockmart, off Vinson Mountain Road and then west on Browning Road, or about 26 miles/39 minutes from Rome. C & B Construction in Rockmart is the builder.
The Dodsons say construction should be completed by March, weather permitting. “We hope to be open this spring but we can’t identify a opening date as of yet. We are keeping our progress posted on Facebook so we can keep people updated.” Nearly 750 people are following that page. For more: Facebook@ParisMountainVineyards.
Dining & drink
No walls, no worries at Jim ‘n Nick’s: The early foundation work continues on Shorter Avenue with nary a wall up yet, but that’s not stopping Jim ‘N Nick’s barbecue from preparing for a Rome opening. A check of the company’s career page shows four positions advertised — general manager, chef/kitchen manager, “front-of-house” manager and “back-of-house” manager (both of the latter are listed as assistant manager positions as you drill into both). The chain currently has 12 restaurants in Georgia, the newest set for Alpharetta/Milton (no Rome listing yet).
Busy times in Calhoun: We recently shared updates from colleague Blake Silvers of The Calhoun Times about the Chick-fil-A on Ga. 53 due to close for a month, starting the afternoon of Feb. 11, for a refit. Also getting a makeover is the stand-alone Starbucks just down the street, which closes after Jan. 25 with a March 1 return expected. Now comes word that Chick-fil-A is looking at a second Gordon County restaurant, this one at Red Bud Road off I-75 near AdventHealth Gordon. That’s on top of Doro’s Italian restaurant, which opened in the former home of Thurston’s Café several months ago. There’s also a Doro’s in Acworth.
Popcorn & Politics
Qcells battle already ‘elec-trifying:’ As noted here last week, the political barometer surrounding Qcells’ $2.5 billion, 2,500-job boom in Bartow and Dalton is soaring.
In Thursday’s AJC, the aptly named (especially in this case) “Jolt” column brings it back to a potential U.S. Senate showdown between incumbent Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., and Gov. Brian Kemp, R-Ga., who’ll need a job after 2026.
The piece draws into the mix Cartersville Mayor Matt Santini, who chides Ossoff on the senator’s comments about writing solar energy incentives into the Inflation Reduction Act.
The AJC quotes Santini: “Nobody accomplishes anything on their own. As a leader in our community I felt it my responsibility to stand up for the hard working and talented people throughout our community and our state whose efforts were cast aside by your comments.”
Remember that Kemp almost has a copyright on that “hard working” line.
The equally hard-working senator responds: “There’s ample credit to go around. And also, if my solar manufacturing bill had not become law, this investment doesn’t come to Georgia.”
So who’s right? In a company statement, Qcells CEO Justin Lee says, “We are committed to working with our customers as well as national and Georgia state leaders to bring completely clean energy to millions of people across the country.”
Lee likewise is quoted in a statement from Ossoff’s office: “No one has been a bigger champion for Qcells than Sen. Ossoff. We’ve worked closely with Sen. Ossoff to get his solar manufacturing legislation signed into law, which helped make today’s historic investment possible.”
That’s a plug in Ossoff’s favor.
Peaks & Valleys
The highs and lows of Northwest Georgia:
Peak to Tommy Atha: For 21 seasons, through “Iron Tiger” workouts to “Ain’t Nothing Like a Tiger on Friday night” games (and a few other sports), Tommy Atha has set the standard for North Georgia. His coaching and teaching go far beyond the school itself; just ask any of his players (including a few who just helped Georgia win a second consecutive national championship). Atha is retiring after 30 years with Darlington; his impact will continue to cross generations.
Valley to our continuing wet weather: We know what April showers bring but, for some of us, winter rain means flooded crawl spaces and foundations. Here’s why: Through Wednesday, we’d seen 5.59 inches of wet stuff since Jan. 1. And since Dec. 1, the cumulative total is 10.73 inches — almost 3 inches above normal. Plus, it is raining as we write this. At least drought concerns have eased a bit.
Peak to solar panel builders Qcells on early deliveries: Within days after announcing $2.5 billion expansion plans in Bartow and Whitfield counties, the company staged a massive job fair Thursday in Dalton for the second of three plants there (announced last year) as it comes online. By massive we mean 1,000 openings with job offers expected to qualified applicants that same day. These folks truly mean business. Groundbreaking on the campus off I-75 near Cartersville is due in the next few weeks.