Rotary honored Bruce and Karen Cross of Trillium Vineyards and Wake Robin Alpacas by naming them as the 2014 Farm Family of the Year.  Dennis Cowart, Club President, presented them with their award and thanked them for continuing the farming tradition in Georgia.  Bruce Cross gave a wonderful presentation on the vineyard portion of their operation.  He began by giving a little history of the area.  In the beginning there were tens of thousands of acres of vineyards in Haralson county.  As a matter of fact, Georgia was the third largest grower of grapes in the United States during the height of Georgia’s wine making history.  Mr. Ralph Spencer was one of the original growers who brought the vines to Georgia to plant.  Even Mr. Kramer, who the city of Bremen was named for, had a vineyard.  However, in 1907 when prohibition came to Georgia, the Hungarian vintners had to watch as their thousands of acres of beloved vines were burned to the ground.
The Vineyard and Winery Association of West Georgia, which is a non-profit organization, is charged with teaching and encouraging others in the viticulture business.  The land in West Georgia is apparently perfect for growing grapes.  The rocky, loamy soil allows the roots of the vines to stay dry enough to encourage grape growing in the area.  As many who live in the area know, Karen Cross, grew up in Haralson County.  Her father and mother, Edgar and Daisy Rhodes, and her brother, Don and Sharon Rhodes, have been named Farm Family of the Year, so it is no surprise that Karen would end up in the farming business.  Growing up in Bremen, her favorite flower was the Trillium Grandiflorum, whose common name was Wake-Robin.  The Wake Robin flower represents the Trinity.  All of their ventures use variations on the theme of the Wake-Robin flower.
The Crosses decided they would plant 1,200 vines, so they ordered their plants from a company in Texas. They invited 100 of their closest friends to witness a blessing of the vines and then all set to work to plant the vines.  Their friends and colleagues planted most rows with Blanc du Bois grapes, but they also have a row of Villard Blanc, a row of Norton and 12 plants of Herbemont.  They expect to plant an additional 2 acres of Lenoir within the next year or so.  This year was their second year and they were thrilled to find out that their particular care of the vines would yield a small crop in the second year.   They were able to harvest 3 tons of grapes in their second year and expect to harvest 12 tons of grapes in their third year.  They are currently awaiting final permits to actually make their wine, while they have the juice of the grapes in a freezer warehouse.  They are looking forward to the day when they can make their wine, have a wine tasting room and be able to give tours of their vineyard.  Rotarians applauded their efforts to assist agritourism in the state of Georgia.  Congratulations go to Bruce and Karen Cross as the Rotary Club’s newest Farm Family of the Year.