Raymond and Donna Castleberry were the original owners of Cavender Creek Vineyards. They were teachers at Grayson High School in Gwinnett County, Georgia; he was a shop teacher, she was a home economics teacher.
The Castleberrys come from farming families here in Georgia—farming is in their blood. So it’s no surprise that when they decided to retire, they wanted to go back to their farming roots. They decided to grow grapes and produce wine.
They bought this property from Jack Fortner, our neighbor who owns the cow pasture next to us in 2006. Raymond planted each vine by hand and produced his first vintages in 2009.
During this time, he found the old log cabin in Tennessee, had it dismantled, and brought to the property here in Georgia. He reassembled it himself in front of the vines, thinking it would make a unique tasting room. But before it was complete, he realized that it was too small for a tasting room. He built a tasting room over the winery and opened it for business in 2011. The log cabin has never been used as a tasting room (some customers insist that it has) and has always been a guest house.
In 2015, Claire Livingston bought the property from Raymond and Donna Castleberry. Claire is originally from middle Georgia and is a retired college professor.
For a number of years, Claire said that when she retired, she was going to move to North Georgia and buy a winery. Long story short, an opportunity fell into her lap to do just that and she hasn’t looked back.
Since Claire has been the owner, the barn that housed all the farm equipment was remodeled to become the Event Venue. In 2018, bathrooms, a prep kitchen, and bridal changing room were added, in addition to a large bar area.
In 2019, the Tasting Room was remodeled. It basically went from about 1400 square feet to over 4000 square feet. We knocked out walls, added a kitchen and storage area on one side, and created a covered porch with a patio on the other side. The winery downstairs also tripled in size. The Castleberrys created a very rustic place. Claire wanted to keep this rustic vibe but with a casual elegance. “I wanted my customers to feel like they were honored guests in my living room.”
Today, Raymond and Donna are enjoying retirement, living closer to their children and grandchildren. And Claire is having fun continuing to build upon the legacy of Southern hospitality, rustic charm, and American values that Raymond and Donna began.