Friday, June 5, 2009

Weekend Getaway – Dahlonega, Ga

Since our anniversary was on a Monday this year, we decided to celebrate our anniversary the weekend before. Also, due to events we couldn’t miss the week before and after, we were not able to go far from home. So I surprised Meg with an overnight trip to Dahlonega and to visit some of the Georgia wineries. After we dropped the boys off with my parents we hit the road north. Meg still didn’t know our destination and continued to throw out possible locations. One of her first ones was the Pura Vida resort outside of Dahlonega, but that was because friends of ours told her they were going up there the same weekend. I said that wasn’t it and then she kept guessing in between reading chapters of her new yoga book. I didn’t lie since that was not the place we were going to be staying, but I also didn’t tell her she had the area right either.

Once we arrived at the square of downtown Dahlonega, she first thought we were going to stop for lunch and I still didn’t spill the beans at that point either. It was a beautiful day that day and it seems that everyone in the tri county area was at the square that day. Especially all of the motorcycle riders! There must have been close to 100 hogs parked within 200 yards of the square when we arrived. That is part of the reason she was a little hesitant when we stopped. While driving around the square a few times looking for a parking spot, I noticed the place we were going to be staying, but still didn’t let her know. It was the old historical Hall House building right on the square. The building dates back to the year 1881! The first level of the building consists of couple of shops, an art gallery and oyster bar. The second level was a great Cajun restaurant that I highly recommend called Gabee’s. Then the rooms were on the third floor. As we walked around town I lead Meg towards the building and noticed a wine tasting sign at the front door of the building. I enticed her to go in and see what wines they were tasting and once we were in there I asked for the owner of the bed and breakfast. He was out of town but the people in the gallery were expecting us and it was at that point Meg realized that this was where we were staying.

The name of the B&B was Top of the Square and I highly recommend it. There are only two rooms to this B&B and our room was very nice. We stayed in the Captain’s Quarters and when you walked in there is a sitting room with a sink and small fridge stocked with waters and cokes. In the adjacent bedroom there was a huge bed and a jetted jacuzzi tub. There were beautiful paintings and pottery all throughout the rooms all done by local artist. The owner and his wife are both artist and she actually made us a personalized vase to commemorate the occasion. Meg truly loves that vase! It is the vase in the picture above. It was a very comfortable room and it was just steps away from all of the shops and restaurants on the square. Included in the room rate, was a nice bottle of Tiger Mt. wine and breakfast at Gabee’s. It truly is a unique place to stay and everyone was so nice that we definitely plan on going back there again in the near future.
Here is shot of the building where the Top of the Square is located.

After we got our bags up to the room and we got settled, we decided to go downstairs and actually do some wine tasting in the Naturally Georgia shop/gallery downstairs. The wines they were pouring downstairs were two local wineries, Tiger Mountain Vineyards and Crane Creek Vineyards. We tasted eight wines from these vineyards and they were pretty good. The highlights for us were the Crane Creek Vidal Blanc and Enotah White and the Tiger Mountain Cabernet Franc and Malbec. That tasting was a lot of fun due to the great personality of the lady pouring the wines and the group of older folks that were there at the same time. They only were interested in the really sweet wines and had some great comments on some of the dry wines they tasted. I believe one of the comments for the Tiger Mountain Tannat was “this tastes like three week old sweaty socks!” I actually liked that wine a lot!

After exploring the downtown area more, we headed outside the town to Montaluce. This is a new winery and real estate development. The area is absolutely beautiful and all of the buildings and villas there are done in the Tuscan style. It really did feel like we were in a remote area of Italy once you were on the grounds. I had arranged to meet our friends there for a wine tasting and tour. This too was a surprise to Meg! Since they have only been opened for a short time, they don’t yet have a vintage of their own wines, so we did a tasting of some Italian wines. The tour was conducted by a guy who was very knowledgeable but had the personality of a wet leaf, so most of the people on the tour were pretty bored, but I got a lot out of it. I was just careful not to ask a lot of questions to prolong the agony of the others on the tour. But the tasting room was beautiful and there was an amazing veranda that overlooked the vineyards. After the tour we sat out there for a while sipping good Italian wines and catching up with our friends.
Here we are on the veranda of Montaluce, notice the vines in the background.
Here is the beautiful tasting room at Montaluce and our friends Keating and David.

Later on we all headed back into Dahlonega for dinner, we ate at the Corkscrew Café just off the square. This place was incredible! I would put their food up against any of the best restaurants in Atlanta. Every one of us cleaned our plates and there was absolutely nothing left, the food was that good. Meg had the special, which was baked grouper and I had the macadamia crusted mahi with pineapple and mango salsa. They both were delicious! The wine list was pretty nice as well. All of this was about half the price of what the same meal would cost in Atlanta.
Here is a picture of my meal, yummy!
On Sunday we woke up and had a great breakfast at Gabee’s, those are seriously the best grits I have ever had! Then we headed out to our where our friends were staying (Pura Vida) so Meg could take the yoga class. It is a wellness and yoga resort after all! While Meg was in the class, I went for a run around the grounds. They have some great trails there! After we both got a good sweat worked up, we got cleaned up and hit the Georgia wine trail again. Just down the road was Blackstock Winery. The views from this winery are amazing! Seeing the mountains in the background behind the vines was quite a site. The wines were also a pleasant surprise. We tasted eight out of their fifteen wines with our favorites being the Reserve Viognier, Sangiovese and their Reserve Merlot. They have a great tasting room and a lot of space for private parties or functions. I am sure that would be a great location for a wedding!

Here are the vines at Blackstock

Not far from Blackstock Winery is Three Sisters Vineyards. This is another beautiful property and once you drive up the gravel driveway through the trees for a bit, it opens up to a great view of a nice lake with the vines and Three Sisters Mountains. That is where they got the name of the vineyard. While there we tasted eight of their wines. Our favorites were the Vidal Blanc, Cabernet Franc and their blend called Fat Boy Red. They also have a varietal that I have never heard of, Cynthiana. Apparently this is a grape that is native to the southeast US. Their 2004 Cynthiana is big a bold with a heavy black cherry taste with some spice after tones. See this trip was also educational!
Here are the vines and wedding gazebo at Three Sisters
This is the view of Three Sisters once you clear the trees

After we spent some time talking to the owners, tasting the wines and walking around the grounds, we had to head back to reality. But it was a great trip and a pleasant surprise. The wines being produced in Georgia have improved immensely and the town of Dahlonega is a gem (get the joke, it was once a mining town!) It was a great weekend getaway and we are already planning on going back soon and visiting some of the other area wineries.

1 comment:

kelly said...

Wow, it sounds fabulous and I can't wait to hear about it in person! You guys look great in the picture and I'm glad you were able to get away!