Noble Wine Cellar and Tasting Room

Noble Wine Cellar and Tasting Room: Jabe Hilson has recently opened the Noble Wine Cellar Tasting Room in the North Georgia Mountains. While his business is located at 58 N. Main Street in Clayton, he is processing and bottling his wine at Monteluce Winery near Dahlonega, Georgia. The making of his own wine is the culmination of a life-long creative journey.

 

Noble Wine Cellar and Tasting Room

Noble Wine Cellar and Tasting Room

Jabe Hilson has recently opened the Noble Wine Cellar Tasting Room in the North Georgia Mountains. While his business is located at 58 N. Main Street in Clayton, he is processing and bottling his wine at Monteluce Winery near Dahlonega, Georgia. The making of his own wine is the culmination of a life-long creative journey.

Jabe has always been artistic. As a child he fashioned clay into animals and monsters. In High School he loved art class. In college he was fascinated by the studio, but focused his talent when he majored in 3-D Graphic Design.  After college he worked in Atlanta as a graphic designer.

He met and married Barbara Bradley, who’s family lives in Lakemont. Together they accepted an opportunity to move to Japan and teach conversational English. While living in Japan he marveled at the Japanese tradition for making food more enjoyable by presenting it as art. Everything about food in Japan has a relationship to art: color, clarity, aroma, texture, taste, the plate itself. He was fascinate by the process and tried to recreate it in their kitchen.

When he and Barbara were returning from Japan, she applied for and accepted a job teaching in the Northeast Georgia Mountains. Both Jabe and Barbara’s families lived nearby, so he applied for a job as a laborer at Tiger Mountain Vineyard. That was in 2003.

So for the summer he worked as a laborer in the vineyard and winery. He stayed on through harvest and got to see the magic as something from the ground grows and is transformed into wine. He found this fascinating. So fascinating, he picked some wild grapes and tried fashioning wine in his kitchen. During our interview he said that winemaking is part of that artistic process that culminates in the ability to create something not just useful but enjoyable.

After his stint with Tiger Mountain Vineyards he was able to find a job with the Clayton Tribune where he used his degree in graphic design. In 2007 John Ezzard contacted him and indicated that Tiger Mountain Vineyards needed someone full time. He started with the winery in January 2008. His job was to help with most everything that needed doing at the vineyard, winery and tasting room.

Over the next 7 years Jabe pushed himself to be as helpful and hardworking as possible. He helped with and learned about almost every aspect of running a vineyard, making wine, operating a tasting room, shipping wine and facilitating events. Over the years he took copious notes on everything he thought was important, especially care of the vineyard and the making of wine.  If wine was aged in different types of barrels and they yielded different aromas and flavors, he wrote it down. He learned a lot – and in time he realized that growing grapes and making wine fulfilled his need to be creative. Jabe told me “John gave me confidence and I found I could have a voice making wine.” He became the assistant winemaker at Tiger Mountain Vineyards.

In fact, one can be very creative making wine. Everything you need to make wine comes naturally. You plant, grow, harvest, crush, ferment, process and age. It’s all a cycle and nothing exemplifies it more than winemaking.  To have the opportunity to present to somebody the new vintage is fulfilling and rewarding.

Jabe shared in Tiger Mountain Vineyard’s successes and observed the personal fulfillment and pride of accomplishment the Ezzard’s enjoyed in all that they have created. From John Ezzard’s family farm they crafted a world class vineyard and winery right here in Rabun County. To that operation they have added the Red Barn Café and a wonderful venue for special events. What a remarkable experience they offer visitors to Rabun County. Award winning wines, gracious service and wonderful foods.

After 7 years he looked at options for his future. Should he play it safe for his family and remain an employee, or should he take the risk and start his own wine-making operation? An important influence was his family’s desire to remain in Rabun County.

He realized that if he wanted to remain in Rabun County he would have to make his own opportunity. It was a family decision that included a number of changes. After taking off several years to raise their family Barbara has gone back to teaching. Jabe had to source grapes and find a location to process and bottle his wine. Monteluce Winery presented the opportunity of a facility. He knew the financial investment would be large, but he also wanted it to be affordable and personally manageable. Jabe, friends and family have all assisted in redecorating the tasting room.

The dream is at hand as the tasting room is now open on Main Street. The shop, in addition to offering wine tastings, also features local and Georgia-Grown and Georgia-Made products.

I asked, so what does the future hold? Well, he said, I am thrilled to live and work in the “Farm to Table Capital of Georgia.” This designation buoys my confidence that our small farms will play an important role in the future of Rabun County. I would like to be part of that and have my own vineyard. Perhaps someday I will have a vineyard, winery and tasting room all on one campus. Then that becomes my life; hopefully something my children will want to be part of, and then it becomes a family and community. There is no place else I would rather be right now.

Noble Wine Cellar and Tasting Room

58 North Main St

Clayton, Georgia

(706) 212-0407

https://www.facebook.com/noblewinecellar

 

By David and Gayle Darugh, Owners/Chefs, Beechwood Inn, Clayton, Georgia

beechwoodinn.ws