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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to

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Mary Ann Hardman

Persimmon Creek Winery

Persimmon Creek, under the direction of Mary Ann Hardman and her husband Sonny Hardman, a pathologist, is perched at 2,100 feet, in the mountains of northeastern Georgia, not far from the Tallulah River Gorge. They intended to grow vinifera grapes in a region where moonshine had long been the favored alcoholic tipple.

On the estate they grow riesling, merlot, cabernet franc, and seyval blanc grapes. The Hardmans make single variety bottlings from each and sell their goods to tourists exploring the mountains. More recently, they began selling to white tablecloth restaurants in Atlanta and other markets in search of vinifera wines with a taste of local or regional terroir.

In 2000 the Hardmans bought land in the Persimmon Valley with the idea of starting a vineyard, then a winery. Two years later, they bottled their first white. In 2003 came the first red. Today, production at the 110-acre Persimmon Creek Vineyards has increased markedly, and reception, especially of their seyval blanc, has been warm, thanks in some part to the persistence of Mary Ann’s marketing efforts.

Date of interview:

John T Edge

John T Edge

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