When Mark and I married 40 years ago, we never imagined our journey together would lead us to a life in the vineyard. When Mark was introduced to my family, he learned the significance of wine and cuisine in Italian culture. As newlyweds, we lived in Detroit, upstairs from my Nonna Angelina Palumbo. It was there, Mark first experienced winemaking with my cousins using Grandfather Erasmo Palumbo’s equipment. Though fascinated with this process, we followed our career paths into medicine moving to Atlanta, Georgia in 1980. During our busy lives as a dual physician family, we loved to incorporate Italian traditions at home and took trips to visit my family in Italy. Mark was quite impressed when we attended a cousin’s wedding in which all the wine served was made by my relatives.
In 2007, around the time our children left home, Mark started a new hobby of home winemaking in our basement. Over the years, we accumulated numerous awards for our homemade wines. At one point, I am proud to say, Mark was one of the top 25 amateur winemakers in the country.
In 2010, I discovered that friends of ours, Carl and Carla Fackler, were planting grapes in northeast Georgia. We made road trips to help them plant vines in the spring and harvest the grapes in the fall as their vineyard grew. Over the years, Mark began to learn from Carl how to take meticulous care of a vineyard, which is the first step in making good wine.
Mark and Carl shared a common medical background as orthopedic surgeons, initially meeting back in 1982 while Mark was an orthopedic resident, and Carl was an assistant professor, clinical faculty at Emory University. I’m not sure what makes orthopedic surgeons want to become winemakers, but their backgrounds in chemistry and biology certainly contribute to their success. Mark and Carl now share their common interest in viticulture and enology.
Our hobby became a passion and we daydreamed about what it would be like to have our own vineyard and winery and market wine commercially. We traveled to Italy, France and California to learn more about wine and viticulture. We educated ourselves and earned Wine Judge Certifications from the American Wine Society in 2016. We’ve enjoyed travelling to states around the country learning about wine while judging local and national competitions. In 2019 we both passed the CSW exam which makes us Certified Specialists of Wine.
As Carl and Carla began thinking about scaling back from the work and responsibilities of operating a vineyard and winery, we were fortunate to have the opportunity to turn our passion for wine into a new venture. They founded a quality vineyard and winery operation and we are excited to keep growing and adding to the legacy. Today, we are living our dream that started as a hobby, became a passion and now a reality at Stonewall Creek Vineyards. As owners and vintners, we will share our passion and our knowledge of wine with others here at the vineyard. We strive to make exceptionally good, perfectly balanced wines for all to enjoy in the beautiful north Georgia Mountains.
Written by Sandi Diehl