Winemaker and Vineyard Manager Ariel Padawer has been growing grapes and making wine since 1996. He graduated to wine from 30 years as a farmer. Following military service in Israel, Padawer planted an almond orchard on Kibbutz Nachshon in Israel. Over the years more crops were added until 1996 when the first wine grapes were planted. Originally, it was planned and contracted to be a commercial winery, but after taking a wine- making course at his neighbor’s winery, he decided to open a small winery using part of the grape crop. That was the first winery in a region which now boasts many and is still expanding. That small endeavor took over Pawawer’s life and he has been learning, tasting, growing and fermenting ever since.
After returning to the United States to be closer to family, Padawer moved to North Georgia to work at Blackstock Vineyard and Winery in 2006. In 2015, Bill and Andrea Werkeiser, purchased Blackstock and renamed it Kaya Vineyards. When Kaya opened to the public in 2016, it was with wines Padawer created from the 2015 grape harvest. The winery has experienced tremendous success in just a few short years with wines receiving numerous awards from the Georgia Trustees Wine Challenge, the Los Angeles International Wine Competition, and the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition to name a few.
The property is in Georgia’s first named American Viticulture Area, the Dahlonega Plateau — this is exciting news in the wine world, as the AVA designation just happened in June of this year. Kaya currently produces 13 different wines (2,500 cases) produced with grapes grown on the estate. The varietals grown include Merlot, Viognier, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Touriga and Sangiovese, and the red, white and rosé wines range from sweet to bone dry. Even after 13 years of tending the vineyard, Pawawer remains busy replanting, harvesting and fermenting the best wines that we can on the Dahlonega Plateau AVA.
Read more about the “Great Vineyards, Wineries, and Cellars of North Georgia” HERE.
By Denise Romeo, Atlanta City Editor