A funny thing happened under our noses while we poked fun at the “wine” produced at Chateau Elan. Some wine makers that know what they’re doing purchased land in North GA and built some stunning wineries. And the wine is surprisingly tasty.
“Wines from Georgia?” you are thinking. I had my doubts which were put to rest after a visit to wineries in both Cleveland and Dahlonega. Here are three wineries in North Georgia that are worth the one and a half hour drive from Atlanta.
Dahlonega’s Kaya is a lovely new winery with big plans into becoming a total weekend retreat. Kaya’s Tasting Room is 1,600 feet up and offers one of the most panoramic mountain views in North Georgia. Future plans include building cabins for weekend getaways. Whatever you try, don’t miss the Oola red wine at Kaya. Any red wine fan will fall in love with it. On weekends, Kaya features a guitarist with a velvety voice to serenade you while you enjoy the dog friendly patio. Tastings start at $11, and the winery is open Wednesdays through Sundays.
On my initial visit, five years ago, the winery was much smaller. In fact, they even had wines other than their own. But it’s truly come into it’s own in the last year or two. The winery is open daily and tours are free, but it’s best to book the $45 tour and five-wine tasting. Then stay for dinner at Le Vigne, the restaurant on site which overlooks the vineyard. The cuisine at this Tuscan-style winery is just as incredible as the luscious wine. The property even has beautiful villas on site where you can stay overnight though it is quite pricey.
Yonah is the beautiful mountain that can be seen from the many wineries in Cleveland, close to Helen. Yonah is also the Cherokee word for “bear” which you’ll see as their logo. Want to see a magnificent winery that has spared no expense? Yonah Mountain Vine yards is it. Built for special events (mostly weddings), there are also several smaller rooms for meetings and dinners, even wine caves where some special wine dinners take place. Though I’m not a Chardonnay fan, the un-oaked, buttery Chardonnay was delightful. But the Genesis 7, a blend of Malbec, Merlot and several other reds was my favorite. Tastings start at $10, and the winery is open every day.
Since it is only a one and a half hour drive to these wineries from Atlanta, you could certainly make a day trip of it. But my recommendation is to take your time and enjoy each winery for its merits. Do the tasting and pick your favorite vino, then relax and enjoy a glass or two instead of rushing off to the next winery. Many wineries have live music or festivals (especially in the fall), so totally worth spending the afternoon or even overnight.
Rent a cabin or stay at one of the nearby hotels (Holiday Inn has just built a beautiful modern hotel in Helen) to make a fun weekend trip at the wineries. Holiday Inn’s modern hotel features an indoor pool, touch sensor lighting, and more in the heart of Helen. What are you waiting for?