Blink and you might miss the sign for Feather’s Edge Vineyard on the side of Hwy 5 just north of Downtown Ball Ground. In the beginning, it might have been an unplanned pitstop en route to North Georgia’s bigger tourist towns. But today? This secluded spot boasts unique art, award-winning wine and acclaimed entertainment all in one space, making it well worth the designation as your final destination.
FROM WINGS TO WINE
Both artists by trade, David and Julie Boone hand built a gallery on their 24-acre property in Ball Ground in 1999.
“We had the naivete to put ‘professional artists’ on our [loan] application,” David recalls fondly. “They laughed us out of the bank. But it was the best thing that happened because we realized we were going to have to do it out of pocket.” The process was slow but it paid off. When the couple opened their gallery, Wild Cat on a Wing, they had no debt.
The gallery space is filled with a carefully curated collection of American craftsmen pieces, from furniture and pottery to jewelry and soap, along with their own artwork. While Julie specializes in graphic design, David’s medium of choice was woodworkspecifically the creation of artfully functional birdhouses. David sold 60,000 birdhouses in the 27 years he dedicated to this craft, and it was this line of work that led him, somewhat unexpectedly, to wine.
In an attempt to attract different species of birds, David got the notion to plant grapes on the unused acreage of his property. As chance would have it, a beloved gallery customer by the name of Gay Dellinger had been a pioneer in Georgia’s wine industry, planting the first vineyard since Prohibition in 1979. After learning of David’s plans, Dellinger introduced him to Doug Paul of Three Sisters Vineyards in Dahlonega.
“He took me under his wing and helped me weave through all the ins and outs to become a winery,” David says. This time, the self-proclaimed starving artist had to dip into the gallery profits to fund the expansion—a worry that David shared with his brother, Chris.
“So you’ve stretched Wild Cat on a Wing to the feather’s edge,” Chris quipped.
Thus, Feather’s Edge Vineyards was born.
The Boones’ path into the wine business, however obscure, has proven successful. What started as a small test vineyard of about 300 vines has since expanded to five full acres.
“The primary grape we’re growing right now is Cynthiana, a hybrid of the red Norton grape,” David says. Unlike some vineyards who bring in grapes from other
states, Feather’s Edge uses only Georgiagrown grapes, working closely with Three Sisters to source grapes and produce their own wine formulas on a large scale. The Chief of the Cherokee dry red blend took the gold medal in the most recent Georgia Trustees Wine Challenge, and Rosé of the Cherokee took silver. In the white category, the Etowah, a fruit-forward vidal/ pinot blend, is a popular choice. The tasting room also offers wine from Three Sisters and sweeter selections from Georgia Winery.
And though the location was a bit off the beaten path when the Boones first landed here, this little piece of North Georgia has seen a rise in popularity in recent years, most notably as the film set for Tom Cruise’s “American Made” in 2017.
“Ironically, I think Covid helped the local wineries [too], because you could sit outside when you couldn’t go anywhere else,” Julie says. And as gas prices continue to climb, Feather’s Edge is capturing more of the metro Atlanta crowd who might otherwise drive further into Ellijay or Blue Ridge. At his last calculation, David estimates that Feather’s Edge has been selling 15,000 bottles a year–not bad for a bird sanctuary!
Open Thursday through Sunday, the tasting room at Feather’s Edge offers flights and wine by the glass and bottle alongside charcuterie boards, the occasional food truck, and live music—the latter of which is becoming an even bigger focus this year. Though they’ve always hosted a rotation of musicians on the patio, the couple has recently opened a brand-new amphitheater onsite to offer an authentic concert experience.
“I love music, and I’ve had a vision of what this would look and sound like,” David recalls, telling the story of a night he drove his old Dodge down into the ravine where the stage now sits. He cranked the truck’s stereo and threw open the doors, dreaming of the concerts that would take place here. Like the gallery, David has built the amphitheater largely himself, and it’s still something of a work in progress, with future plans including an outdoor bar.
For the Boones, each new element to their business builds on the last.
“We thought the wine would be a way to enhance the gallery,” Julie says. “The music is a natural progression—music enhances wine.”
Feather’s Edge currently offers live music every Friday, Saturday and Sunday with artists ranging from big band and Southern Rock to acoustic and Americana. Cover charges range from $5 to $25. Larger shows take place in the amphitheater while smaller sets still perform on the patio.
“A lot of venues stick to the same genre. As an artist, I don’t want to do that,” Julie says. “I want to offer a variety.”
Shows will continue through October and possibly into late fall or even winter, weather permitting. The vineyard welcomes 100 to 150 guests every weekend and offers lots of room to spread out on the spacious lawn with plenty of shade and seating areas.
FEATHER’S EDGE VINEYARDS
10061 Ball Ground Hwy., Ball Ground