‘Southern Vines’ showcases state’s wine industry

Georgia’s wine industry has experienced a revival that is having a positive impact on tourism and the economy. Dr. Benjamin Garner, assistant professor of marketing and management in UNG’s Mike Cottrell College of Business, showcased the wine industry in a 26-minute film “Southern Vines: The Rebirth of Wine in Georgia” broadcast on Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) in December.

“The most unusual fact I learned was that Georgia has a really old wine history dating back to the colonial days,” Garner said. “I also was really surprised to learn that Prohibition laws from 100 years ago still affect wineries today.”

Garner’s research was supported by a $10,000 UNG Presidential Incentive Award, and he chose to create a documentary for its potential to reach more people.

“So often, our academic work is only read by a handful of other academics, maybe 100 people, at most,” he said. “With a documentary that gets shown on GPB, my film will reach somewhere between 13,000 to 54,000 people, on the first viewing. So the impact of my work is more significant this way. Film is a great way to communicate ideas to people in the community.”

UNG President Bonita Jacobs initiated the awards program in 2013 to encourage academic excellence, scholarly activity and innovation and has awarded more than $1.3 million to date.

From left: Dr. Ash Mady, Dr. Benjamin Garner and Dr. Cesar Ayala celebrate the screening of Garner’s documentary “Southern Vines.”

“The resulting professional development and research projects have enriched our academic environment both in and out of the classroom,” Jacobs said.

Garner’s research is especially significant to the region now. In 2018 wineries in the Dahlonega area became part of the new Dahlonega Plateau American Viticultural Area, a federal designation that speaks to geography, geology, climate, and the ability of vineyards and the wine they produce.