Georgia, Where the Peaches (and Grapes) Grow
One of the more surprising facts we learned as we prepared for our Sommelier exams was that wine is produced in all fifty states in the United States. As we work our way across the country, we make a point to try some local wines. When visiting Atlanta recently, we sampled a few regional wines and decided we owed it to ourselves to delve deeper into what Georgia has to offer. The heart of the state's wine country lies at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains in the Dahlonega area of Lumpkin County, boasting six wineries and twelve tasting rooms. It has been on our radar since 2012, when Garden & Gun Magazine named Dahlonega as the "Runner Up to The Best Wine Town" of the south. The area is developing nicely and currently produces approximately 100 acres of grapes - primarily American, European and French Hybrids. He and She predict the Dahlonega Plateau will likely become the next American Viticulture Area (AVA).
On our first visit to North Georgia's Wine Country, our goal was to get a little taste of as much as possible. We hoped to to gain a feel for the region. With this in mind, we reserved tastings at four vineyards located relatively close to one another with lunch at our second stop. Here is a downloadable Wine Trail Map.
Here are our top four pieces of advice to make your wine tasting day an awesome one!
He and She's first tip: Get a driver.
It is helpful to choose a tour guide that has good, well-established relationships with the wineries. An excellent guide will spend time in advance discussing your favorite types of wines, the vibe you are looking for, how many wineries you would like to visit, lunch preferences, if you are looking for live music or want to have a picnic, etc. If there is a special occasion you are celebrating they call ahead and set up something special upon your request. Some tours are all-inclusive while with others you pay for tastings and food as you go. Some guides have arranged discounts with some of the wineries, which they may choose to pass on to you, and others are merely your designated driver.
We HIGHLY recommend Alyssa at Georgia Wine Tours. She was very organized, set up our itinerary, drove safely and smoothly, kept us on schedule, and put up with our karaoke on the way home! It was great spending the day with her.
You can reach Alyssa at Georgia Wine Tours (678) 462-0040 or (404) 924-1288: $380 for up to six people for eight hours plus $100 refundable deposit in case the vehicle requires cleaning. Pick up locations are at predetermined spots around Atlanta, or your location if not too far out of the way. Georgia Wine Tours is one of the first tour guides in the area and has been chauffeuring wine lovers around north Georgia since 2008.
If they aren't available here are a few other options:
He and She's second tip: Plan ahead to make your travel time fly
We stocked our tour bus with waters and mimosas to drink and these portable mason jar breakfast parfaits and muffins to ensure nobody began their tastings on an empty stomach.
We created a wine themed playlist on Spotify. Click here to see our playlist.
We provided our guests with the day's itinerary and some study materials so they could be prepared for the fun ahead. When you have a busy tasting schedule it helps to familiarize yourself with the menus ahead of time to keep things moving. The menus will likely change often, so download them as close to your visit as possible.
We created a Wine Country Bingo game to pass the time in the car - it was a big hit! We all learned a bit about the area, had many good laughs and because everyone was looking out the window, nobody got carsick.
He and She's third tip: Take notes
We prepared simple tasting note sheets to help us remember everything we tasted.
We packed plastic glasses, waters and a cheeseboard for the trip back, which paired well with the bottle of wine we purchased for our bingo winner at our last winery stop. We also packed airsick bags, but fortunately, nobody needed them!
And to round out our day of wine tasting we played Carpool Karaoke with our Portable Wireless Karaoke Microphone. A super fun toy for kids and adults alike!
Here are a few bonus tips for a pleasant day of wine tasting:
- Best not to bring young children
- Come with an open mind and try new things
- Have a good breakfast and take time out for lunch and snacks along the way
- Drink plenty of water - a good rule of thumb is one glass of water for each glass of wine
- Don't be afraid to spit into the bucket when tasting
- Be courteous to the tasting room servers
- Pack phone chargers and car adapters
- Bring cash for souvenirs, tips and gratuities
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— He and She on Wine