The partners of the Equus Wine Club at Lake Keowee, a venture that was announced in 2015 but never completed, have shifted course to bring a new winery, under the name Eagle Mountain Winery LLC, to Greenville County.
Announced Aug. 2, Eagle Mountain Winery will sit on a 54-acre parcel of land in northern Greenville County, near Landrum, and is set to open in early 2019. The property is located on Highway 11, between Highway 25 and Highway 101, and features streams, small waterfalls, southwest-facing hillsides, and 40-mile mountaintop views.
“The plan for Equus was to build a private social club with the members having an interest in wine, food, equestrian, and lake activities,” says Russ Gardiner, who developed the Equus concept and is now Eagle Mountain Winery CEO and managing partner. “It was strongly endorsed by 322 individuals who signed the letter of intent to join the club, but we fell short of the required 500 individuals we needed for the club to be fully funded without any debt. Therefore, we focused on our primary interest, which was to bring a world-class boutique winery to South Carolina, and Eagle Mountain Winery was born.”
The land has already been cleared for the vineyards to be planted, and the winery is in the developmental stages. For the first few years, Eagle Mountain will produce wine from grapes grown in Napa, Sonoma, Lake, Mendocino, Monterey, and other well-known areas in California. The production of estate wines from the South Carolina vineyards will begin in three to four years, once the grapevines have a chance to mature.
“The wines from Eagle Mountain Winery will have exceptional power,” says George Bursick, director of winemaking. “We are sourcing the best grapes from the finest vineyards in California and finding creative ways to plant and grow cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc varietal grapes on our estate in South Carolina. Additionally, we have designed a state-of-the-art winery to ensure the highest quality of wine on a consistent basis.”
Bursick and Gardiner have a combined 60 years of experience in the wine industry. Bursick has spent more than 35 years making wines at some of California’s largest wineries, including a 21-year stint at Ferrari-Carano. In 1986, while Bursick was director of winemaking there, “Wine Spectator” magazine named the 1985 Ferrari-Carano chardonnay Wine of the Year.
“Our exclusive Wine Club memberships will offer more than just the usual wine discounts,” Gardiner says. “Benefits include free Italian cuisine every Sunday, a chance to be involved in the wine crush, and wine camps with our winemaker where you’ll blend your own wine in the barrel room. Founding members will also receive personalized pavers and wine barrels.”
In addition to Gardiner and Bursick, more than 30 local investors are helping fund Eagle Mountain Winery.
The winery will be open to the public seven days a week and will be available for weddings and private events during off hours. Monthly food, wine, music, and art events will also be open to the public.
Additional amenities will include bocce ball courts, walking trails, fire pits, and an outdoor sculpture garden.