Photos Andy Calvert and Andrew Lowry
The made-by-hand details of the moody interior intriguingly play with the imagination, from the rich ambrosia maple wood table tops to the repurposed industrial dollys- now coffee tables- the Newby Wine Tasting room is a feast for the senses. Similar to the flight offered on their list, the journey from vineyard to winery is full of subtly, and the glass or bottle tells complexity and its story. Come enjoy Broad Street’s new hotspot, a place to enjoy good conversation and great wine.
The flight includes nine wines, all unique and meticulously crafted on the Newby Farm and Vineyard in Rome, GA. The Blanc du Bois, the original vine planted on their farm in 2015, is clean and refreshing with aromatic notes of honeysuckle and hints of lychee and fresh wild pair as it tops the list of an incredible selection of full-bodied lenoirs, fruit forward layers of roses, and the liquid rubies of a delightful chambourcin. Each of their wines tells a story of vision, dedication, and community.
“In the beginning, we had all this space and nothing growing, just a large lawn to mow.” Shannon Newby remembers the farm in its earliest stages. Billy wanted to take advantage of the natural spoils of the property to move the wild blackberries.
“We dug up we dug up a couple of hundred wild blackberry bushes and trellised them in straight rows so we could keep it mowed and not be eaten by chiggers.” “Unfortunately,” he adds, they have to be picked every day, their thorny, and just a pain really.”
They moved on, and the vision evolved. “We then got into a couple of big garden situations.” Shannon says as her eyes widen above her mask. “We grew way too many vegetables than anyone could ever eat. I spent one whole summer making over 450 jars of jam. Entire days were dedicated to canning relish. It wasn’t quite enough for a farmers market, and I’m not sure that was ever something that we thought of doing.
Billy then began to wonder whether their land could support grapes. “We had all this wild muscadine growing throughout the property, so why not?” Shannon explains. “Billy started paying attention to the infrastructure and processes of the wineries we often visited. He started piecing together, ‘how do they do that?’.”
The couple has visited well over thirty different wineries in north Georgia alone, seeking out the small operations where they could sit down and talk to the owner about their methods. How is the trellis made? How do you design effective irrigation? At these small operations, the Newbys began to piece together a plan, only to have it shattered the year of their first planting.
In the early spring of 2015, they planted 300 Blanc du Bois vines. Tediously, collecting all the information they could from local vineyards and gathering buckets of rocks from the fields to prep the soil. Nothing could have prepared them for the disappointment of having eighty percent completely decimated by deer. It was a crushing blow, but not one to deter Billy from his vision.
He began visiting Georgia Wine Growers’ Association seminars and symposiums. His introduction to Fritz Westover, a viticulturalist out of Houston, Texas would give the Newby’s an idea-a crazy idea. In 2017, Westover convinced Billy to dedicate more than 2500 vines to the soil, and a vineyard is born.
“We called up everyone we knew to come to help us plant. Billy grew up here and has worked in Rome and Atlanta all his life. We called old friends, fraternity brothers, neighbors. Everyone was eager to see what Billy was getting into now. They brought their families, and for two weekends, we planted 2500 vines.
We had lunch for everyone and coolers of drinks. It became a pretty social event. Kids were running around and helping play in the dirt. The fun translated into the harvest time as well.” Shannon says. “This past harvest, we saw a lot of interest from the community, and we had a food truck and t-shirts made. It was a shared experience of accomplishment and participation.”
Billy’s parents, Dennis and Jackie Newby, are a huge part of the operation. Shannon elaborates, “In the beginning, it was just the four of us. They have a house on the farm. Jackie would watch the kids when they were younger, and we had to work the fields. Now the kids are old enough to join us, Jackie and Dennis are out with us, working the vineyard together, cutting the grapes, and trimming the vines.
This has been an unexpected journey for Shannon, “I’m from Michigan and come from a family that would barely cut their own grass. When Billy convinced me we would move to Rome, it was initially a bit of a shock. I absolutely love it here. He keeps convincing me to grow things, and it keeps working like the grapes a lot more than I liked picking berries. Growing up, I was not tied to any place.
What really changed for me was when we planted the 2500 grapevines. There was a moment I realized I am not going anywhere. This was about the same time I got involved in Junior Service League, and I began to really lean into my relationships here. I began cultivating stronger friendships and engaged more fully with the people in my life. I realized the vines were mirroring my metaphoric growing roots. I have always trusted Billy. Although I never considered myself a farmer, I have always trusted Billy, and here we are.”
Their operation made a dramatic shift in 2019 when the Newby’s had over twenty-one tons of grapes to sell. The usual buyers negotiated a price that simply didn’t justify the work. Billy made the decision then and there, “We are going to process our own harvest instead of relying on other outfits. Three weeks later, he finished the construction of a cold storage facility on the back of our shop, and we invested in our crusher and de-stemmer and all the things we needed to start making juice from our grapes.” Shannon recalls.
“Until we met Westover a lot of the operation had been trial by error,” Billy notes. To adapt their vineyard into a full-blown winery, they leaned toward winemaker, Bill Cox, out of Adairsville. Billy explains, “Winemaking is equal parts: art and science. There is a lot of high-level chemistry in addition to the intangible factor that comes from us and the creativity of the winemaker. There are many elements that go beyond the fruit to make the flavor of the wine.
We started by sharing a collection of our favorite wines with Bill to introduce him to our preferences, and in turn, we started to learn a lot about our palette.” When customers come to the Tasting Room and experience the flight, they will discover it is an excellent reflection of the Newby’s aesthetics and overall winemaking approach. “It is a meaningful craft, full of blood, sweat, and tears. We want to bring something unique to Rome.
However, as winemakers, we have been enveloped into a much broader community of Georgian vineyards and wineries. Free from the competition, we often sell and make wines for each other.” says Shannon. As with any community, when someone prospers, we all prosper.
The interview wraps at the arrival of Don Humphries from Paulk Vineyards as if on cue to reiterate the camaraderie and supportive network of this new actualized hobby gone awry, Newby Farm and Vineyard Tasting Room.
Visit the Newby Farm and Vineyard at:
Their Tasting Room will be opening soon at: 411 Broad Street Rome, Ga 30161