A New AVA is born!

A New AVA is born!

As He and She predicted earlier this year, the Dahlonega Plateau will be America's newest American Viticultural Area (AVA), effective July 30, 2018. This will take the total number of AVAs to 242. 

On June 29th the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau of the United States Department of the Treasury (TTB) approved the Vineyard and Winery Operators of the Dahlonega Region of Northern Georgia's petition, which was first submitted in April 2015. 

To become an AVA, an area must provide evidence that the physical features of the area (climate, soil, elevation) are distinctive. They must also submit maps evidencing the boundaries are legitimate and that the name of the AVA is known as referring to the area. Once established, the AVA label must contain at least 85% local area grown grapes in their wine production.

Map courtesy of winewitandwisdomswe.com

Map courtesy of winewitandwisdomswe.com

The new AVA is located in Georgia's Lumpkin and White Counties in the northern foothills of the Georgia Piedmont and covers roughly 133 square miles in the northeastern area of the Dahlonega Plateau. With good soil, precipitation and wind flow,  the area is developing quickly and currently has about 120 acres of planted vines, eight vineyards, and seven wineries. 

Read about our wine tasting trip to Georgia in June of this year. We were impressed with the quality of the wines we tasted. Here is a downloadable Wine Trail Map of the area.

Our wine tasting itinerary:

 The Montaluce Winery envisions their property as “The beauty of Tuscany, the experience of Sonoma and hospitality of the south.” They grow more than 35 acres of premium vinifera grapes including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Viognier, Sangiovese, Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc and Pinot Grigio. They are dedicated to growing and making premium wines that will compete with other premiums wines around the world.

Montaluce Winery

Montaluce Winery

We tried the White Wine Flight ($18) which included:

  • 2015 Montaluce Seyval Blanc - Estate-grown, light and refreshing with lime on the nose. Smooth and silky finish with Asian pear. $7/glass $27/bottle
  • 2014 Montaluce Sauvignon Blanc - Soft-bodied with white peach on the palate leads to a smooth lingering finish. $6/glass $22/bottle
  • 2016 Montaluce Pinot Grigio - 100% Estate-grown Pinot Grigio. Extra ripe orchard fruit dominates the nose. Mouthwatering citrus with a zesty finish. $9/glass $33/bottle
  • 2015 Montaluce Vidal Blanc - 100% Estate-grown Vidal Blanc. Dry, medium-bodied white wine. Pineapple on the nose and finishes with hints of green apple. $7/glass $27/bottle
  • 2016 Montaluce Dolce - Aromas of pear, pineapple and a hint of lemon zest fill the glass. Bright tropical notes on the palate with a crisp and bright finish. $7/glass $25/bottle

And the Red Wine Flight ($23) which included:

  • 2014 Montaluce Pinot Noir - Dark fruit on the nose dominated by ripe raspberry, medium-bodied with bright ripe cherry, earthy notes, and a hint of smoke. $15/glass $52/bottle
  • 2014 Montaluce Risatta - Blackberry, plum, cloves and oak notes dominate this bold red wine. Risatta, "laughter" in Italian, symbolizes this bright and inviting red blend. Similar to a Malbec. $15/glass $52/bottle 
  • "M" Signature Blend "Bordeaux Style" - A signature blend of Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Chambourcin, with aromas of black cherry, blackberry, and violets. Full-bodied with moderate tannins and a long lingering finish. Very smooth, our favorite of the reds tasted. $25/glass $99/bottle
  • 2015 Montaluce Syrah - Dark in color with aromas of black cherries, sloe plums, and mint with a long smooth finish. Seemed light after the three previous reds tasted. $13/glass $45/bottle
  • 2015 Montaluce Petite Sirah - Blackberry, black pepper, and forest floor aromas. Very dark in color, full-bodied with a full mouthfeel and long smooth finish. $15/glass $52/bottle

And the Mixed Wine Flight ($18) which included:

  • 2016 Montaluce Chardonnay - A full-bodied estate-grown white wine. This unoaked version has aromas of lemon, apple, and pear with a smooth finish. $10/glass $39/bottle
  • 2016 Montaluce Tramonto - A beautiful full-bodied dry rosé wine made with only red grapes through limited skin contact. Balanced mouthwatering acidity and a long finish. $8/glass $28/bottle
  • 2014 Montaluce Pinot Noir - Dark fruit on the nose dominated by ripe raspberry, medium-bodied with bright ripe cherry, earthy notes, and a hint of smoke. $15/glass $52/bottle
  • 2014 Montaluce Risatta - Blackberry, plum, cloves and oak notes dominate this bold red wine. Risatta, "laughter" in Italian, symbolizes this bright and inviting red blend. $15/glass $52/bottle
  • NV Montaluce Wild Meadow Mead - This rare mead has been made with a combination of estate and local virgin honey. He and She would experiment by pairing it with spicy shrimp curry.

We then moved on to the beautiful  Wolf Mountain Vineyards and Winery located at a scenic 1,800-foot elevation.

Wolf Mountain Vineyards and Winery

The lush hillside vineyards and a fieldstone-encased winery rest on a 30-acre estate. 

Wolf Mountain Winery

Wolf Mountain Winery

The Vineyard Café serves a combination of European and Southern regional cuisines.

We began with the refreshing Vintners Reserve Brut Rosé which is made by adding a small amount of their Reserve Claret to the dosage to produce the beautiful light salmon color. This process adds more complexity and red berry flavors to the sparkling wine without overwhelming the delicate flavors in the Chardonnay-based wine. The Logan Turnpike Grit Fries with Pimento Cheese Bechamel was terriffic!


The WMV Vineyard Salad with grilled Springer Mountain Farms chicken breast atop fresh and crisp mixed greens, red grapes, candied pecans, bleu cheese and a citrus dijon vinaigrette paired beautifully with the Chanteloup white wine. The Cuban sandwich with juicy pork tenderloin, Black Forest ham, Swiss cheese, tarragon dijon mustard, and pickles on a ciabatta roll was nicely paired with the Coupage red wine.


And every birthday celebration isn't complete without a sweet treat and more bubbles!

Wolf Mountain's winemaking philosophy is European in style, blending grape varietals to achieve more unique and complex wines. Wolf Mountain has received more than 200 medals in major US wine competitions since its first harvest in 2002. They grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Mourvedre and Touriga Nacional grapes. Home to North Georgia’s first traditional Méthode Champenoise sparkling wines. They produce about 5,000 cases per year.


After lunch we descended to the tasting room and enjoyed a flight of six wines:

  • Reserve Cuvee Brut - Barrel-fermented and aged in 100% New French Oak for five months. It offers delicate oak tannins giving the base wine more body and complex vanilla and spice notes building to a dry, crisp finish.  Quite light-bodied so good as daytime summer bubbles. 175 cases produced $12/glass $27.95/bottle
  • Sparkling MVS - After whole cluster pressing Viognier, Marsanne, and Syrah grapes, they are co-fermented in stainless steel. The resulting blend offers complex fruit flavors with a crisp dry finish. A lovely beach refresher with tart citrus. 200 cases produced $12/glass $27.95/bottle
  • Plenitude - French for "all the best" and it is a blend of Chardonnay and Viognier. Fermented and aged in stainless steel to preserve the acidity, it expresses beautiful lemon peel and grapefruit notes with a crisp and refreshing short finish. The notes of sweet banana threw us off a bit. 650 cases produced $10/glass $25.95/bottle
  • Chanteloup - French for "song of the wolf" and is a full-bodied oak-aged blend of Chardonnay and stainless steel aged Viognier. Chanteloup offers notes of melon and apricots with a softer finish. 400 cases produced $10/glass $28.95/bottle
  • Coupage - Traditional Bordeaux Blend of Malbec, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged 24 months in American and European oak. Exhibits rich blackberry and cherry notes and has well-integrated tannins which build to a long and round finish. Very French. 500 cases produced $12/glass $37.95/bottle
  • Howling Wolf Red - A full-bodied non-vintage blend of Syrah and Cabernet. Aging for 24 months in American oak barrels results in rich raspberry and strawberry jam flavors with bold tannins and a velvety mouthfeel on the finish. 500 cases produced $12/glass $37.95/bottle

We hopped in our Georgia Wine Tour van and headed for Cavender Creek Vineyards and Winery, the newest and smallest family farm, with an old-fashioned approach to grape growing and winemaking. The property is 15 acres with four of those acres devoted to grapevines. They grow Petit Manseng, Cabernet Sauvignon, and American Norton grapes and produce about 1,400 cases per year.

Cavender Creek Vineyards and Winery

Cavender Creek Vineyards and Winery

We opted for the Premium Wine Tasting which included seven wines for $18 (two whites, one rosé, and four reds).

  • Marcela - A blend of Vidal and Niagara that is light and crisp and similar to a Pinot Grigio. $8/glass $24/bottle
  • 2016 Petit Manseng - Estate-grown, full-bodied white wine with flavors of lemon curd, melon, and quince. $9/glass $30/bottle
  • Cervantes - A superb blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chambourcin that is well-balanced and dry with flavors of raspberry and cream. $9/glass $30/bottle
  • 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon- Estate-grown, European-style, fruitier and lighter than California Cabs. Beautifully balanced with flavors of black fruit, currant, and sweet toasted oak. $9/glass $32/bottle
  • One-Eyed Jack - A blend of Norton and Merlot with aromas of red fruit and vanilla that give way to a mouthfeel of cranberry, pomegranate, and toasted oak. $9/glass $30/bottle
  • Castleberry Red - Named after original owner Raymond Castleberry, this well-blended, estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon and Norton combine to make a wine with flavors of black fruit, chocolate, and spice. $9/glass $32/bottle
  • Donkey Hotie - A blend of Norton and Cabernet Franc. Black fruit and cassis dominate the palate with a juicy, velvety finish. $9/glass $30/bottle

The wines and the staff were great, and how awesome are these wine labels?


We then pushed off to Three Sisters Vineyards and Winery,  which is a laid back place with a fun atmosphere - perfect for the last stop on a fun day of touring. A beautiful cherry wood and stained glass tasting bar dominates the tasting room.  Three Sisters is Dahlonega’s first family farm winery and the county’s founding grape grower on 184 acres. It was named "Best Winery of the South" by TurnerSouth. They grow Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir grapes. They produce 3,500 - 4,000 cases of 100% Georgia-grown estate wine.

Three Sisters Winery

Three Sisters Winery

For the Three Sisters tastings you can select five wines of your choice from their tasting sheet for $15. We enjoyed Georgia Cuvée Sparkling Wine (200 cases produced and $30/bottle), Fat Boy White (Chardonnay, Vidal, and Pinot Blanc blend $15/bottle), and the Sweet Li'l Sis ($15/bottle). 

We will have to make another trip to the Dahlonega Plateau AVA as our notes were not quite as helpful at our fourth winery and there are more to explore! On our next trip we will revisit Three Sisters and check out Frogtown Cellars and Kaya Vineyard and Winery.


To add to your wine tasting experience, check out our wine tasting playlist.

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— He and She on Wine

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