If you’re looking for a wine adventure that doesn’t involve a plane ticket, you can escape to the wineries of North Georgia by driving just an hour north of Atlanta. Georgia’s vineyards are producing award-winning wines, and we are excited to spread the word on our state’s very own wine country. The winemakers and viticulturists here are showcasing their knowledge of Georgia’s soil and climate by producing wines that are true expressions of the region. Whether you’re looking for a full winery tour or just a place to relax, a day trip or a full weekend’s staycation, there is a Georgia winery just for you, and we’ll cheers to that!
Montaluce Winery & Restaurant
Winemaker Craig Boyd has been growing grapes and making wine for 28 years. He has a master’s degree in Enology and Viticulture from the University of California, Davis, and prior to working in Georgia, he spent most of his career working at wineries all across The Golden State. His high caliber of wine knowledge shines through his work, and the overall experience of visiting Montaluce’s property culminates in a combination of Tuscany beauty, Sonoma wines, and Southern hospitality. The winery offers complimentary tours throughout the day on both weekdays and weekends, and special Wine Hikes—1.8-mile treks on the expansive property followed by a wine tasting—are offered on Saturdays and Sundays. For those looking to elevate the wine experience with a food pairing, Montaluce’s full restaurant offers an exquisite menu of gourmet dishes available for lunch, brunch, and dinner. A Chef’s Table reservation is also available on Fridays and Saturdays to explore Executive Chef Christopher R. Matson’s approach to classic techniques and locally-sourced ingredients.
CeNita Vineyards, Winery & Tasting Room
CeNita is a family-operated farm winery owned by husband-and-wife team, Greg Crumley and Carol Chambers Crumley. They planted their first vines in 2008 on the site of what used to be the family’s old dairy farm and named the winery after Greg’s parents, Cecil and Juanita Crumley. Today, CeNita is producing a portfolio of estate wines that can be enjoyed by everyone in a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere. All of their wines are made from vinifera and hybrids grown on their vineyard property, including chardonnay, cabernet franc, merlot, barbera, and chambourcin. These handcrafted wines demonstrate the winemakers’ knowledge of the soil, climate, and growing seasons here in Georgia with a range of dry to off-dry wines, satisfying a variety of taste preferences. Bring the whole family and explore the sprawling grounds or partake in the array of lawn games stationed in the picnic area. The rolling hills of the massive vineyard make the picture-perfect backdrop for any wedding. Southern hospitality and fine wine is just the start of what you can expect from this Georgia wine gem.
The Vino Van
Want to explore North Georgia’s wine country in style? Billie Harris, founder of The Vino Van, offers fun and educational wine tours beginning in Atlanta and stopping at a variety of renowned Georgia vineyards and wineries. The 10-passenger customized Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van provides first-class comfort to those wanting to get a closer look at our local wine country. Harris fell in love with the science, history, and culture of wine during her viticulture studies at Emory University and certification programs at the Atlanta Wine School. She brings her knowledge of wine and her passion for connecting people to her North Georgia wine tours. “Wine is life!” she says. Harris is dedicated to building a bridge between her customers and the wonderful world of wine. Booking a tour with The Vino Van will give you an all-access pass to the tasting rooms of Georgia’s most extraordinary vineyards and properties in the region.
Located only two minutes from downtown Dahlonega and open seven days a week, Accent Cellars produces small-batch wines as a micro-farm winery. More like a modern micro-brewery than a traditional winery and vineyard, Accent’s team sources grapes from multiple locations and farms scattered throughout Georgia, Texas, and California to be processed and blended at their facility. A focus on the production phase rather than the growing phase allows more distinct, hand-selected nuances to shine through the different wines processed here. The goal for the Accent team is to create handcrafted wines that they would drink themselves. For guests, a visit to the tasting room is an educational experience. “We want every person that comes through that door to leave having learned something about wine that they didn’t know before,” says tasting room Manager Tyler Barnes. “Whether it’s what tannins are or that they don’t actually hate Chardonnay.” Guests are welcomed by the contemporary, relaxed vibes that fill the tasting room. Picnics and pets are encouraged to be brought along, and games are available onsite, best enjoyed alongside a full tasting flight.
Kaya Vineyard & Winery
Located at a slightly higher elevation, Kaya’s winery and tasting room offers an incredible panoramic view of the North Georgia mountains. The facility features large windows and a covered back deck that makes it the perfect venue for pairing live music with good wine. All of the wines here are produced exclusively from estate-grown grape varietals, including viognier, albariño, merlot, petit verdot, malbec, and sangiovese. After being hand-harvested, the fruit is processed in their facility on the property and then aged in their climate-controlled barrel room located below the tasting room. In addition to crafting signature wines—notable for their distinct balance between wood and fruit characteristics—the goal here is to also provide an educational experience for guests and an engaging environment for their team of winemakers. “Customer service is our top priority,” says
Marketing Manager Emily Holt. “We believe how we manage our staff correlates to how we will treat our guests. We are a very close-knit and family-oriented team.” The familial vibe effortlessly reaches Kaya’s visitors through wine tours, tastings, and live music along with the full lunch menu and four cottages available onsite. Additionally, less than a mile down the road, Kaya’s sister property, Dahlonega Resort, and Vineyard, offers lodging, a full restaurant, a spa, and event space.
by Kelly Cornett of A Cork In The Road
Article originally appeared in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of DiningOut Atlanta magazine