By Guest Blogger, Shawndra Russell
Georgia is known as The Peach State, a hospitable mecca in the South that’s home to sweet tea, fried chicken and deep roots. Although those familial ties trace back centuries, Georgia’s wine story is much shorter—the oldest surviving winery opening its doors in the ‘80’s.
One area in particular that deserves more attention is Dahlonega, Georgia, where visitors will find the highest concentration of vineyards in Georgia. Near the German village of Helen, Dahlonega is home to five wineries, all producing European and French-American hybrids—NOT the too-sweet muscadine that many people associate with Georgia wine.
These wineries include Three Sisters, Frogtown Cellars, Wolf Mountain, Cavender Creek, Montaluce and tasting rooms for Habersham Winery and Tiger Mountain Vineyards in the town’s small square. Their atmospheres range from a stunning Tuscan-inspired setting at Montaluce to a casual family farm operation at Cavender Creek, and together these locations make for a fabulous weekend getaway. Although many of these wineries are already popular as wedding venues, their high quality and peaceful surroundings will no doubt continue to grow Dahlonega’s popularity as a vacation destination. Just in 2012, the Dahlonega chamber and the five wineries partnered to launch the Dahlonega Wine Trail event and dedicated to making it an annual adventure.
To plan your Dahlonega vacation, start by booking either a secluded cabin, vacation rental or cozy B&B as the hotel and resort scenes are still sparse. And only a few wine tours exist so far: Paddy’s Taxi’s Winery Tours and Appalachian Transportation will get you to each winery safely.
Where there’s great wine, great food often follows, and Dahlonega is no exception. The farm-to-table movement is budding here, with the Montaluce Winery boasting an impressive menu that changes daily and includes produce grown on-site. Wolf Mountain serves lunch only (except for special five-course dinner events) that is casual chic—gourmet thin crust pizzas, a handful of artisan sandwiches, and several spread, cheese and charcuterie options. Or, head into the adorable town square with a cluster of tasty, low-key options like The Corkscrew Cafe, Bourbon Street Grille and Back Porch Oyster Bar followed by live music at Shenanigans or another pub.
Perhaps even better for those opting to stay in a vacation rental is bringing back some bottles from your favorite winery and whipping up food yourself or ordering food to-go. We ended up purchasing bottles from each vineyard because we fell in love with one or more styles at each stop. My favorite evening of our Dahlonega trip was grilling steaks while sipping on a few glasses of red on the huge covered porch at our lovely Bend of the River cabin.
And don’t miss the chance to visit nearby Amicalola Falls at the mouth of the Appalachian Trail. The tallest cascading waterfall in the Southeast, Amicalola also has a lovely pool at the bottom perfect for a post-hike spot to dunk your feet and breathe in the fresh mountain air.
Shawndra is a digital strategist that helps small businesses tackle their social media and the Savannah correspondent for Forbes Travel Guide. Read about her services and work at www.shawndrarussell.com.
I love my state 🙂
Having just done our trip to Ellijay and Blue Ridge we now have our next road trip from Savannah.
Thanks for the ideas Shawndra.
Hi Howie, you’re welcome! Such a great area, right? We have vowed to go at least once a year.