Today, the grape may well replace it as the Alabama wine industry heads into the 21st century.
As aficionados eager to taste homegrown wine -- made in the Southern tradition -- continues to grow in number, the word is spreading throughout the state that wine is here to stay, and getting better.
(Upper right, a view of Wills Creek Vineyards, Attalla, AL.)
The roots of the wine industry in this area began with the wild scuppernong that later morphed into the muscadine grape that local wine lovers love so well. Wild grapes are heavily entwined with the natural history of this area, and it was only a matter of time before serious winemakers turned their hand to local fruit. Now that the secret is out, wineries are springing up at a fast pace bringing plenty of positive attention.
Alabama winemakers aren't resting on their laurels, however. Recent research by Auburn University may bump up regional interest to nationwide attention in their experimention with Vitis vinifera grapes to produce the universally popular Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The challenge? Alabama's hot, humid climate and insect population calls for a hardier strain of the classic grape, a problem that science may soon alleviate.
Time will tell, as they say in the vineyard.
Meanwhile, in Alabama, Southern hospitality is turning to sipping fine wine on the veranda, and you may be very surprised at how refined it tastes.
More information about Alabama wineries around the Web: