When a historic building in downtown Hogansville became available in 2019, Brandon Rettke jumped at the opportunity. The building’s rustic charm and Main Street location, he felt, made it perfect for repurposing as the winery he’d dreamed of opening.
The quaint brick structure, which dates to 1924, had another advantage: a fascinating history. Today’s winery was yesterday’s city jail.
Yes, Twin Mills Winery, whose name honors Hogansville’s textile heritage, was once the city’s jail and city hall. Occasionally a customer will come into the Tasting Room, look around, and quip, “I spent some nights in here.”
Actually, the jail cells are intact and visible from out back, but not from inside the winery, Rettke explained. He’s given the Tasting Room a rustic, industrial look with antiques and upcycled materials, including a repurposed factory cart. Guests can also sip their wine in the original city hall vault, furnished with an old church pew and mood lighting.
The winery aims to be “casual, cozy, and convivial. “It isn’t a restaurant, but does serve simple meat and cheese options. It’s also “BYOF,” Rettke said. “We’re Bring Your Own Food friendly.”
The young winemaker, whose full-time job is in the aviation industry, developed an interest in wine about 15 years ago and, for a time, envisioned himself running an apple winery in Wisconsin. After relocating to Georgia, first to Newnan in 2015, then to Hogansville in 2018, he began volunteering at River’s Bend winery near West Point to learn the art of winemaking. Twin Mills was licensed and began production in 2021. The winery opened last year.
Billed as “not your average winery,” Twin Mills specializes in small-batch, handcrafted meads, and wines. Mead, Rettke explains, is a honeybased wine of ancient Viking heritage.
“Our meads have the mouthfeel of a wine rather than the thicker syrupy feel of many traditional meads,” he said. Many customers are attracted specifically for the mead, and beer drinkers, he’s found, often really enjoy mead.
The wines are named to recall aspects of the community’s textile heritage. There’s Selvedge Summer Mead, Buckram Cherry, and Olefin Orange Spice, a melomel-style wine made with orange blossom honey, oranges, golden raisins, and a blend of warm spices. Coming soon: Homespun Pineapple, also a melomel-style wine made with orange blossom honey. After fermentation, the wine is aged with fresh pineapple to infuse flavor and add a bit of sweetness.
Soon to mark its first anniversary, Twin Mills recently expanded its Tasting Room hours, adding Friday nights to its original Saturday and Sunday hours.
Rettke’s flying schedule – 12 days on, 10 days off – allows him ample time for winemaking, which he calls “more my hobby.” It also makes it possible for him to be active in the Hogansville community, serving on the Downtown Development Authority, Tourism Committee, and Hummingbird Festival organization. “I’ve enjoyed being part of a small town reinventing itself and glad that I could turn one of its historic buildings into a place where people can visit the past,” Rettke said.