The small town of Fruithurst, AL was once the center of the wine Vineyard Colony in Alabama.
Near the Alabama-Georgia border lies a small town named Fruithurst in Cleburne County with only a population of 284 in the 2010 census. However, it was once a ‘bustling and promising town’ before 1900. In 1896, Ralph Spencer, made Zidonia, Alabama, a flag stop on the Southern Railway ten miles West of Tallapoosa, Georgia into a boom town devoted to wine production.
To attract immigrants to the new town, the Alabama Fruit Growers and Winery Association, of which Ralph Spencer belonged, awarded $25 to a woman who proposed the new name of Fruithurst. Spencer planned to create a 1,240 acre town. His goal was to create a colony of about 36 square miles.
Fruithurst was incorporated by the legislature December 9, 1896. It is located on the old public road from Talladega to Atlanta. The town itself occupied 500 acres, well laid out in streets and parks. It soon became the center of the “Vineyard Colony,” and at one time contained more than 150 attractive homes and 15 business houses.
Land sharks advertised far and wide among the Swedish-Americans concerning the great opportunities awaiting them in Fruithurst. Land seekers’ excursions were run weekly. A village grew up like a mushroom over night. However, when prohibition was made law, the town declined.
For years no financial returns were realized on the grapes shipped to the markets. Eventually these conditions brought about an exodus which was nearly as great as the influx of people had been a few years before.
By 1898, the property of the Alabama Fruit Growing Winery Association was sold at a sheriff’s sale. Anniston attorney J. J. Willett bought the property as a representative of the C. C. Curtice Company of Brockton, New York.
The glory day of Fruithurst were brief and now only a few remnants of the once blossoming colony are left. However, today, it may be making a come back with a new winery that has opened. Named the Fruithurst Winery, it operates in conjunction with Laminack Vineyards and offers an array of different table wines.