Residents from around Forsyth County have been counting down the days until Stoney J’s Farm and Winery makes its grand opening and steps into a new world filled with muscadine grapes, wine tasting and more.
The wait is over.
Stoney J’s will be having its grand opening celebration beginning Friday, June 11, and continuing through Sunday, June 13. Residents can sample homemade wines, pizza, pretzels and charcuterie boards and enjoy live music on Saturday.
Stoney J’s Farm and Winery grand opening
When: Beginning at noon Friday, June 11 and running through Sunday, June 13.
What: Come out and sample homemade wines, pizza, pretzels and charcuterie boards. Grab a spot and enjoy the day. Take home some merchadise with your favorite bottle of wine. Enjoy live music from Austin Webb on Saturday, June 12.
Contact: 678-910-4146, www.stoneyjswinery.com
Who are they?
In 2014, the DeNardo family moved from Chattahoochee River Club to a quaint and stylish farmhouse just off Stoney Point Road in south Forsyth.
Stoney J’s Farm and Winery began as a family farm where Sean and Stephanie DeNardo, their four kids and Sean’s parents, Richard and Linda, sold fresh eggs and honey.
As for the name — Sean said he gets asked all the time “How did you come up with ‘Stoney J’s?’”
“Well, we live off of Stoney Point [Road],” Sean said. “And then we were thinking ... there’s the four J’s with my kids: Jordyn, Jessie, John and Josh. And that was it — it was easy.”
One day, Sean and Richard looked over the property they shared and noticed overgrown ivy and vines. Sean said they pondered planting grapes to see if they would take to the soil and grow.
“We had no intention at that time to turn it into what it is right now,” Sean said with a laugh. “We were really just playing around out there as a hobby.”
As the DeNardos continued to enjoy the rural lifestyle, they began to see growth with the few planted behind the house. Sean said they picked the grapes in fall of 2015 and fermented them into wine, holding tastings at their house for friends and neighbors.
“Everybody ... loved the wine,” Sean said. “And [told us we’ve] got to turn this into a thing — make a winery.”
The family got to work clearing out the front pasture to make room for more grapes, planting varieties like Ison and Carlos muscadines.
“Pretty much the whole property are muscadines,” Sean said. “And what you can do with muscadines are three things: make wine, make jams and jellies or eat them. But probably about 90% of our property is for winemaking.”
While Sean used to work at AT&T, he credited everything he has learned about winemaking to books and researching on the internet.
“My dad and I basically learned everything ourselves,” Sean said. “We didn’t know what to do at first, but we [learned].”
Sean said that he and his father had attended classes at the University of Georgia to learn about picking and pruning. He said while he worked hard to learn new things, he could not have fathomed opening a business without his father by his side.
“[My dad] is really the rock here,” Sean said. “Trust me. He’s up every day doing work, telling me what stuff we need to do.”
While both he and Richard are retired, Sean said that he doesn’t feel like he’s a “typical retiree.”
“I mean, is it really retirement with all this work?” Sean joked. “It’s really been more like a change in way of life.”
A first for Forsyth
Along with making and selling wine, the DeNardos are also prepared to toss some pizza dough and plate some charcuterie boards. Richard said the entire family had been taught to make pizza by a chef from Germany, and they had also learned to make “a killer Bavarian pretzel.”
“We made probably a hundred pizzas with [the chef from Germany],” Sean said. “We gave them to friends and neighbors because there was no way we could eat all of them.”
“We love pizza in our family,” Stephanie added. “But by the end of it, we were like … we really can’t eat another pizza.”
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Inside the tasting room, the DeNardos will be hand-crafting the gourmet wood-fired personal pizzas to go along with the wide selection of wines.
While adults and parents can enjoy the comforts of pizza paired with wine, children will be able to visit all the animals that live at the farm.
Stoney J’s is home to many different farm animals including goats, pigs, dogs and Shetland ponies. Stephanie said that children will be able to meet the animals, feed and pet them at the petting zoo that’s right next to the wine tasting room.
“While we’re a winery, we’re also still a farm,” she added.
Each of the animals have names corresponding to the family’s favorite Marvel comic characters — ‘Storm’ and ‘Steve Rogers' to name a few.
“Oh, we love Marvel movies,” Sean said. “The kids love all that stuff like ‘Iron Man’ and the ‘X-Men.’ So all the goats and pigs have superhero names.”
Stoney J’s Farm and Winery has a second location in Dahlonega that serves as an event venue for parties and weddings. Sean said that once the winery in Forsyth County has been up and running for a few months, he and his family are going to start planting grapes on the land there as well.
“Our Dahlonega location is perfect for weddings with all the green land and pretty scenery,” Stephanie said. “But soon, we’ll plant muscadines there, too.”
As a true family venture, Sean, along with his wife, kids and parents, are excited to meet new people, hear new stories and share experiences with folks all “over a glass of wine.”
“I’m just so thankful for everything,” Sean said. “For everything that my parents have done, my family’s done, the community’s done. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t get calls from people out in the county wanting to know our hours. I’m so thankful and excited and ready to be the first winery in Forsyth County.”