They say, “Once you are here, you’ll know why the locals are smiling,” and if the scenic north Georgia mountain landscape isn’t enough to convince you, a taste of the wines produced here certainly will. Along the Georgia Wine Highway, a growing number of vineyards offer award-winning wines against a scenic backdrop where you can enjoy a host of recreational opportunities – hiking, camping, fishing and whitewater rafting – or just relaxing and drinking it all in.
As summer draws to a close, a handful of events along the Wine Highway provide just the motivation you may need to head for the hills. First among these is Crane Creek Vineyard’s Annual Tomato Festival
on Saturday, August 20, 2011. The festival is a showcase of food and wine with entertainment provided by Cornbread Ted and the Butterbeans. Guests over 21 can sample the vineyard’s wines and take home the souvenir glass. Perhaps your favorite will be Hellbender Red, winner of a Gold Medal at the 2010 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and a Silver Medal at the International Eastern Wine Competition. Visit www.cranecreekvineyards.com for details.
Nearby, Tiger Mountain Vineyards and Persimmon Creek Vineyards will host Rabun County Farm Day, also on August 20, 2011. Admission includes tastings at both vineyards, plus “farm bounty” and live entertainment. Tiger Mountain is located just outside Clayton and has been producing its award-winning wines since 1999; among these, the Petit Manseng has been awarded consecutive Silver Medals in the 2010 and 2011 San Francisco International Competition. Persimmon Creek Vineyards of Clayton sits on a 110-acre hilltop estate, a beautiful site you can behold for an extended visit as a guest at one of three vineyard cottages. Information on Tiger Mountain, Persimmon Creek and Rabun County Farm Day is available at www.georgiawine.com.
One of the area’s newest wineries, Yonah Mountain, celebrates “Crush Fest” on Saturday, September 3, 2011. Located near Cleveland, Yonah Mountain will mark its second harvest with wine, grape stomping, wagon rides and live music. Get directions to the vineyards at www.yonahmountainvineyards.com. If you can’t make the event, stop by their Tasting Room in Sautee.
Nearby Dahlonega is home to several wineries: Frogtown Cellars, Wolf Mountain Vineyards, Cavendar Creek Vineyards and Blackstock Vineyards, to name a few. Each offers wine tastings accompanied by spectacular mountain views, and special events throughout the season highlight both. Check out a weekend afternoon’s “Grill and Chill” at Blackstock Vineyards, or join Frogtown Cellars for its Ribbit Barbeque & Wine Days on Saturday, September 3. Georgia Wine Tours offers daylong excursions to Dahlonega area wineries from the Atlanta area; rates are based on vehicle occupancy and do not include tastings, food, beverage or winery souvenirs. Make reservations online at www.georgiawinetours.com, or map out your own itinerary with the help of the Wine Growers Association of Georgia at www.georgiawine.com.
Whether your style is laidback and rustic or more refined, there’s a Peach State winery with just the flavor for you. Take a trip on the Georgia Wine Highway to find your perfect taste.