February 28, 2014
It may not be Napa Valley, but Georgia’s wine industry is gaining national acclaim all the way to California. Dahlonega, about an hour’s drive from downtown Atlanta, is the core of the Peach State’s wine-producing region and the ideal destination to enjoy a weekend of sniffing, swirling and sipping.
Begin your discovery of Georgia grapes in the tasting rooms of historic downtown Dahlonega, the site of the first major U.S. gold rush. The Dahlonega Tasting Room features the vintages of Helen, Ga.’s Habersham Winery, which has been producing award-winning wines since 1983. Featuring a variety of specialty foods, Simply Taste Buds is another tasting room located off the main square, this one pouring picks from Chattanooga Valley’s The Georgia Winery.
Now that you’ve whet your palette, head to Montaluce Winery and Estates, a 400-acre Tuscan-style community that, along with homes and cottages, includes a 35-acre vineyard. Step up to the elegant tasting bar and enjoy wines crafted by Australian-born Head Winemaker Tristen Vanhoff. Then, lunch on contemporary American specialties at Le Vigne Restaurant while taking in views of the vineyards.
Next, head to Wolf Mountain Vineyards & Winery where the Boegner family is proud to claim Georgia’s first-ever gold medals at the San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles International Wine Competitions. Set atop Wolf Mountain, the winery offers a scenic view of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, best enjoyed with a glass of handcrafted estate wine on the outdoor veranda, or from the tasting room’s stone and cedar bar.
Further east in Lumpkin County, Three Sisters Vineyards & Winery serves up a laid-back ambiance””one of their wines is even paired with a side of Cheetos during tasting. Named for its view of Three Sisters Mountain, the winery cultivates a range of grapes, from Cabernet Franc and Merlot to Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, among many more. After making your way down Three Sister’s list of vintages”” produced using 100 per cent Georgia fruit that is entirely estate grown””stop into nearby Frogtown Cellars, a 57-acre wine estate home to 23 varieties. Choose from three different wine tasting options: a flight of dry white wine, dry red wine or a combination of both.
Culminate your wine-venture at Cavender Creek Vineyards. Offering live music every Saturday and Sunday, the tasting room’s spirited atmosphere pairs well with its easy drinking fermented creations””from a sweet Dulcinea White to mildly tannic estate-grown American Norton. If you plan your evening perfectly, you can stumble from the tasting room to your accommodation for the evening in Cavender Creek’s porch-clad 1820s restored log cabin. If a bed and breakfast is more your style, head to Mountain Laurel Creek Inn and Spa, where most of the rooms feature private decks and whirlpool tubs. For a more city-centric stay, downtown Dahlonega’s Park Place Hotel or the historic Smith House Inn are within walking distance of the Crimson Moon Café‘s famous live stage.
From memorable Appalachian Mountain scenery to vibrant vintages created by an industry built on deep Southern pride, Georgia’s wine region is becoming an enticing reason to venture north of the big city.
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Have you visited any of these Georgia wine spots? Where would you recommend visiting in the Dahlonega region? Let us know in the comments section below.
Written by Giannina Smith Bedford