The Chateau Elan Story


Chateau Elan Winery

Donald and Nancy Panoz are the visionaries and founders of Château Élan in Braselton, Ga., USA. The luxurious resort is the first winery of its kind in the region since Prohibition. With numerous expansions over the past 30 years, Château Élan is now one of the most awarded wineries on the Southeast Coast.  Within the resort, there is an inn, a lodge, a conference center, four golf courses, eight restaurants, a European-style health spa, several residential communities, a tasting room, and a tennis center.

The couple met in West Virginia when Don was attending Greenbrier Military Academy. They both served their country in Japan, Don as an Army Intelligence Officer, and Nancy as a Counter Intelligence Secretary, but neither of them let the rigorous details of the Army, or the demands of raising children, dampen their entrepreneurial spirits. A love of business and creative spirit would lead the Panoz’s into things many thought impossible.

After their return to the U.S., Nancy worked and raised their five children while Don studied business at Duquesne University, and operated two drug stores in Pittsburgh.

Don then formed Mylan Pharmaceutical Corporation, a pharmaceutical packaging company now known as Mylan Laboratories. As the youngest president of a pharmaceutical company in the United States, Don took on industry giants Eli Lilly and Parke Davis in the difficult but lucrative, production of gelatin capsules. In doing so, Don established Mylan Laboratories as an innovative leader in the field of pharmaceutical delivery.


Idea first discussed by Don and Nancy Panoz


First vineyards planted


First (1984 Vintage) of wines released


Chateau Elan opens to public in August


The Chateau Winery Visitors Center opens


Chateau Elan Inn & Conference center opens with 144 rooms


Chateau Elan completes $11 million renovation on Inn Rooms & Conference Center


Winemaker Simone Bergese joins Chateau Elan to run the Winery Program


Vineyards replanted


Outside of Winery Renovated


Chateau Elan becomes the most-awarded winery on the East Coast and Tasting Room renovation is completed

In 1969, the Panoz family moved to Ireland where they formed Elan Corporation, which has become an industry leader in drug delivery products and technology. Elan was the first Irish company to have a public offering in the U.S. market. Today, Elan is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and has developed four of the top 100 products in the industry. The company holds more than 100 world-wide patents with one of the most recognizable being the nicotine patch which has helped millions of Americans stop smoking.

The Panoz’s decided to bring the same discipline and high standards that created Elan Pharmaceuticals to the wine industry. The couple visited Georgia frequently since Elan had a research laboratory in Gainesville. During one of their trips, Don and Nancy tasted Muscadine wines, made from indigenous Muscadine grapes and the adventure began.

Muscadine grapes were widely available in several vineyards in Georgia, therefore the couple, together with their team of experts, decided to experiment in growing the classic vinifera varieties as well. Vintage after vintage, the microclimate of the Georgia location proved insufficient to grow the classic vinifera varieties such as Chardonnay and Merlot that are not native to America.

Many years passed and it is with the arrival of the current Italian executive winemaker and owner of the winery Simone Bergese that a radical change was made. No more experiments and no more failures. In 2012 the entire vineyards were replanted with the native Georgia Muscadine grape. He planted two varieties, Carlos for the white grape and Noble the red.

In order to expand the wine program and offer premium reserve wines in addition to his award-winning Muscadine,  Bergese started a second Reserve Wine Program based on classic vinifera varieties grown in several different vineyards in California. Knowing that very high quality grapes were  grown in one of the best world’s wine areas, Bergese leveraged his expertise to see out only the best grapes available. He now oversees farming and harvest for those vineyards. Once ready, those varieties are hand picked and transported whole cluster in refrigerated trucks across the Country to make amazing wines right here in Georgia.

In addition to the Reserve Wine Program, the winery also decided to offer some exclusive and rare limited production wines coming from overseas. Bergese started to collaborate and consult for 3 outside wineries. Two are Italian wineries from his birthplace in Piedmont, Italy that produce our Moscato and Dolce Rosso. The third winery is the amazing Tahitian Winery Manutea, which produces Brut Ananas, a rare Tahitian pineapple sparkling wine, exclusive to Chateau Elan Winery.

From humble beginnings, Chateau Elan winery is now honored to offer over 30 wines and produce half a million bottles each year. Forged by amazing partnerships and now under Bergese’s direction, Chateau Elan Winery is one of the largest and most awarded wineries on the East coast with the largest distribution in the State of Georgia.