Stunning Georgia Wineries

While most think the west coast has the market cornered on the best wine, a wine renaissance has been happening in the Southeast. Several wine makers purchased land in North GA and built some stunning wineries. And the wine doesn’t disappoint.

“Wines from Georgia?” Yes, Georgia is more than just fried foods and moonshine. Here are three wineries in North Georgia that are worth the one and a half hour drive from Atlanta.

Kaya Vineyards
Kaya is a lovely new Georgia winery with arguably the best view of the mountains. The 1600 square foot tasting room includes a large patio, perfect for a lazy weekend afternoon. Future plans include building cabins for weekend getaways. Whatever you try, don’t miss the Oola red wine at Kaya. 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.

Montaluce Winery
The winery is open daily and tours are free, but it’s best to book the $45 tour and five-wine tasting. Then enjoy dinner at Le Vigne, the posh restaurant overlooking the vineyards. The cuisine at this Tuscan-style winery is just as outstanding as the vivacious wine. The property even has beautiful villas on site where you can stay overnight.
Yonah Mountain Vineyards
Yonah is the beautiful mountain that can be seen from the many wineries in Cleveland, close to Helen. 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 even wine caves where some special wine dinners take place. Not a Chardonnay fan? The un-oaked, buttery Chardonnay at this Georgia winery might just change your mind. But the Genesis 7, a blend of Malbec, Merlot and several other reds was is stunning. 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, a day trip is feasible. But what’s even better is taking time to enjoy each winery for its merits. Do the tasting and pick your favorite vino, then relax and enjoy a glass or two at each of the wineries. Many wineries have live music or festivals (especially in the fall), so totally worth spending the afternoon or even overnight.

wine festival greenville, sc

A Wine Lover’s Festival in Greenville, SC

If you fancy yourself a wine connoisseur, one of the fun things to do is attend food and wine festivals, right? There are a couple reasons food and wine festivals are a fantastic and fun way to enjoy wine. For one thing, you get to try new wines you’ve never heard of. Plus you can totally geek out with other wine enthusiasts. And of course, it’s wonderful to see the different pairings of food with wine and attend educational seminars. If you live in the Southeastern United States and love wine, you should plan to attend Euphoria, Food, Wine and Music festival in Greenvill, SC.

Happening during late September, which is the optimal time to be outdoors in the south, this year’s festival runs from September 22 through 25. Friday evening begins with a food tasting on the banks of the beautiful Reedy River. Just steps away are expertly selected wines to sip on while you enjoy a concert at the adjacent pavilion.

wine festival greenville, sc

Taste of the South at Greenville’s Euphoria Food, Wine and Music Festival

Rest up Friday night, because Saturday is full of adventures for wine lover’s at this Greenville festival. Beginning in the early afternoon are the wine seminars. They curate topics on specific varietals that delve deep into various components like region, production, pairings and more. These seminars, taught by master sommeliers, allow you to learn from some of the most knowledgeable wine experts. Past seminars have included “Perfect Pinot” and “Rosé Renaissance.”

wine seminar euphoria greenville

Wine Seminars are Taught by Master Sommeliers

Wine Dinners. Euphoria selects only the best restaurants to host these coveted wine dinners. A well known chef prepares a unique menu to compliment the wines. Tipsy? No need to worry about transportation as nearly all the restaurants are close to host hotels. Basically, every festival event is in walking distance to the Greenville hotels, though you can Uber it if you don’t feel like making the short walk.


Sunday Supper at Euphoria Greenville

The Sunday Supper is well worth sticking around for. It is the bittersweet culmination of a fabulous weekend sure. But it is also the opportunity to taste a one-of-a-kind collaborative dinner from chefs all across the South.

You’ll be hard pressed to find such an intimate, yet magnificent feast offered by big name chefs. Past chefs have included Sean Brock and Frank Lee. One of the great things about this wine festival in Greenville is that tickets can be purchased to individual events. You can buy your tickets here.



Tasting in the Dark: A Blind Wine Seminar

Tasting in the Dark with Francis Ford Coppola Wines

You’ve no double heard of a blind wine tasting before. This involved tasting wine where the label is covered. The idea matching how good of wine connoisseur you are to be able to discern the wine. But this wasn’t the kind of wine tasting I attended. And no, it wasn’t anything kinky either. This was all about elevating your senses by taking away one. This was Tasting in the Dark.

You know the name Francis Ford Coppola from his legendary films. What if he were to take away all of the images? Your senses would suddenly enhance aspects you never noticed—the sound of a child laughing in the background of the scene, the scent of the perfume of the woman in the row behind you, and the saltiness of your popcorn. This is the premise of Tasting in the Dark.

As we all gathered in the corner of the restaurant, we were each given blindfolds to put on. Instructed that we’d put our hand on the shoulder of the person in front of us, we slowly and very carefully walked into to our seminar room. First we were given glasses of different items to smell, to get our sense of smell activated. Anise was easy to identify as the strong smell of licorice was present. Vanilla bark was harder to discern. But one thing was for sure, it really helped us focus in on that sense of smell.

Next were three different wines placed in front of us. The white with fruity notes was easily identifiable. The reds, although easy to pick out different hints of cherry, vanilla and other notes were not as easy to identify. This was a neat way to explore wines. The subtle nuances of wine are no longer subtle, instead having our full attention. You can smell the fruit. You can feel the tannins. You realize how much more you get out of tasting wines like this.

Hoby Wedler, recently awarded Forbes Magazine 30 under 30 for Food and Drink, was our host of the unusual wine tasting. Hoby says blindfolds help participants concentrate on the wine, accentuating the sensory experience of its flavors and aromas.“You’re really focusing just on the wine and not on the visual cues,” Wedler says. You bring your curiosity we’ll bring the blindfolds.

Coravin: A Sexy New Wine Tool

coravin wine system

Want to know what the latest, sexy new wine tool is? It’s the Coravin, a device that lets you sample small tastes from wine bottles without disturbing the cork. Why is this such a neat offering? Well, what it means is that restaurants can now offer small tastes from wines that they only have limited supply of. This means that they can now serve a high end wine to many more customers than before. And for customers who aren’t looking to spend $100 more on a bottle of wine, they can simply get a taste of the wine.

The way the Coravin works is that a needle is inserted right into the cork to release a small amount of wine for a glass or less. The bottle is then pressurized with argon, an inert gas that’s in the air we breathe. Once the device is removed from the bottle the cork reseals itself. This means that the oxidation process never begins. When oxygen is introduced to wine it begins to lost it’s initial taste.

Here’s and excerpt from Coravin inventor, Greg Lambrecht “My dream was to magically pour wine from bottles without ever pulling the cork. The remaining wine could then go back in my cellar, so that I could enjoy it again, whenever I desired. What followed was a decade of development and testing until I had a system that delivered great glasses of wine, indistinguishable from untouched bottles, while never pulling the cork.”

Don’t Swallow Too Soon: Lessons from a Riedel Wine Tasting

How does Georg Riedel begin a wine tasting? By making guests start with water. Yes, water. The best way to learn about why the glass is important is by learning how the liquid  falls on your tongue. So instead of trying to taste the wine, we began by filling our three glasses with water. We started with a flared glass (Pinot Noir), small opening (Syrah) and big glass (Cabernet). It was interesting to note how the glass opening can affect where the liquid falls on your tongue.

Once we dispersed the wine into the various glasses and went through the various tastings, we could truly taste and SMELL a difference. The shape of a wine glass really does affect the smell. It can also affect the acidity and the saltiness you pick up when sipping. Wine has first and second aroma. It is important to smell the wine before drinking, taking deep breaths.

Georg Riedel demonstrates a Riedel Decanter

“Don’t swallow your wine too soon”, says Georg Riedel. He likes to savor it in the mouth first. There are calories in wine, so if we are going to drink it, we should really swirl it around in our mouth before we swallow. “If we commit to a sin, at least we should enjoy it,” he says. I have to agree.

If you plan to decant your wine, it is important to have superior tools for that as well. See above where Mr. Riedel shows off his luxury Riedel decanter to the audience. Yes, it’s full of wine.

Here are some other gems, Mr. Riedel shared with us:

  • Flared glass is also great for champagne.
  • As we get older our preferences for different reds change. In his mid 60s, Riedel loves Pinot Noir a change from Cabernet in prior decades.
  • The narrow opening glass (Syrah) is the best universal glass for any red wine. Though most people don’t want to use it because it isn’t that aesthetically pleasing and is hard to dry.

But that wasn’t all. Alcohol isn’t the only nectar that deserves it’s own speciality glass. Riedel has been asked by Coca-Cola to develop a glass specifically for this fizzy product. As Coke is headquartered in Atlanta, it made perfect sense to debut the glass at the Atlanta Riedel wine seminar.