Chelsea couple realize their vineyard dreams

After spending time on the wine roads of North Georgia, Chelsea residents Lee and Lisa Moffett decided to open their own winery when the opportunity unexpectedly presented itself.

“I remember sitting outside tasting wine at Crane Creek Vineyards in Young Harris, Georgia, and looking at the vineyard that used to be a farm,” Lee said. “It just reminded me of my grandparents’ farm. I thought, “I could do that,” and it always stuck in my mind. »

Lee is a civil engineer who continues to work as a consultant, while Lisa is a retired teacher from Westminster to Oak Mountain. She helped start the school in 1999 and taught there for 16 years.

The Moffetts had family land in southern Mississippi which they sold and decided to find a place not far from Chelsea to build their own vineyard.

“I started looking for a pitch, and the second pitch Connor Farmer was able to find for us was this,” he said.

The location is at Risers Mill Mountain, about 30 minutes from Chelsea, near Majestic Caverns in Childersburg (Alpine to be technical). Lee purchased the property and planted around 90 vines in 2014. He said around this time his paths began to cross with others in the wine industry, and he began researching what was goes into owning a vineyard and making wine.

Lisa said this change came during a difficult time for their family. Lee had cancer and was undergoing treatment when he began the planting process. She said she believed God was using it as therapeutic healing for him.

“It breathed new life into him and into our family,” Lisa said. “We were weary and tired. It was extremely therapeutic for Lee, it changed him. This place has been awesome; it brought our family together.

She chose the name Novi, which is a Latin prefix meaning “new”. It was a new venture for them, but she said it also breathed new life into them.

The following year, Lee planted 1,500 vines and put up all the trellises. It takes five years for a vine to reach full maturity, which was 2020. In 2020, Novi got their business license, and their idea finally became a reality. There are now 3 acres of vines growing on the property.

Novi offers three varieties of French hybrid wines: a Blanc duBois white, a Grove Allen Blend red, as well as Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.

“We’re trying to carve out a place for ourselves as a dry wine,” Lisa said. “Most wineries in Alabama sell sweet muscadine. All of our wines are made from grapes, not muscadines.

We try to be just a little different.

When the couple dreamed of the winery, their desire was for their customers to experience some peace and rest and enjoy a nice glass or bottle of wine, Lisa said. She wants to touch all the senses: to see beauty, taste wine, smell their signature candle and feel at peace.

Novi Vineyards opened in September 2021, just a week after the wedding of their eldest son. Guests on their opening day were many of their longtime friends from North Shelby County and Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church.

This year they held a one year anniversary party, and this time it was mostly locals who became regulars at the venue.

The Moffetts are reaching out to different places to transport their wine and said the local farm-to-table movement is something they want to be a part of.

The white barn is nestled in the trees and overlooks the vines. Inside is a tasting room, lounge area and the processing room. Outside, tables, chairs, and rocking chairs allow patrons to enjoy their wine on the covered patio or around the tree-lined fire pit.

The cellar can be reserved for events, including parties, small weddings or a meeting with friends. It includes a prep kitchen and catering is permitted.

Novi Vineyards is open Fridays and Saturdays from noon until dark. For more information, visit novivineyards.com.

About Michael Brafford

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