By Malika Bowling
“You are drinking a time capsule,” said Eduardo deVelasco, a certified American Wine Expert, and our wine guide for the afternoon as we sipped on an appropriately named red wine, Majestic, at Serenity Cellars. Located in Cleveland, Georgia about an hour north of Roswell / Alpharetta, it is one of more than 60 wineries in Georgia.
deValasco leads tours for inquisitive wine enthusiasts for Vip Southern Tours. For him, each time he savors wine, it is the combination of food, company and ambiance that he relishes – never being the same experience, hence likening our afternoon to a distinctive moment.
The secret may be out among wine lovers, but here’s your cheat sheet for the best wineries to visit in North Georgia along with must try wines.
Chateau Meichtry (Talking Rock, Georgia)
It is rumoured that Stephen Meichtry brought rootstock with him when he came to the United States in 1925 and that is what is planted at Chateau Meichtry, which has remained a family business for generations.
While many wineries’ tours are average, Chateau Meichtry (pronounced “my-tree”) is a must do. Why? For starters you’ll get to see the mural that was painted in their wine production room when they used to have murder mystery dinners.
Must try wine: Albarino – the 100 percent estate grown grape has a citrusy finish. Take home a bottle for $25.
5-sample wine fight is $10
Serenity Cellars (Cleveland, Georgia)
A charming courtyard beckons, as you drive up to the property and plenty flock here on the weekends to get a prime seat for the live music. Yes, they even have a stage for performers. Open since 2013, owner Joe Smith crafts incredible blends and lends his knowledge to other nearby wineries helping them to develop their own blends.
Must try wine: La Famiglia Rosso – this Zinfandel blend has lovely notes of jam and caramel.
5-sample wine flight is $10
Montaluce (Dahlonega, Georgia)
Nestled on the foothills of the mountains, is Montaluce, an Italian style winery with rustic villas on site for rent. The food at Montaluce is out of this world, so any foodie should plan on staying for dinner. Bonus: hikers will love a short hike before their wine tasting.
Must try wine: Petit Verdot – a true standout for any red wine lover. It is big and bold for Cabernet lovers but still balanced for those who prefer a tame Pinot Noir.
5-sample wine flight is $30
Engelheim (Ellijay, Georgia)
Engelheim is German for “Angel Home” and their German design is apparent throughout the winery. The wine has won several gold and silver medal awards from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, beating out over 7,000 other applicants.
5 sample wine flight is $12
Must try wine – Engel Weiss – the award winning combination of their four whites, it is both nutty and floral.
Cottage Vineyard & Winery (Cleveland, Georgia)
People flock to this winery for the panoramic, insta worthy photo ops. The wines aren’t just an afterthought though, a collaboration with Joe Smith of Serenity Cellars. If you aren’t coming with a wine tour, make sure to make your reservations in advance (at least 3 days according to the website).
5 sample wine flight is $11
Must try wine: Viognier with citrus and a crisp finish, it is the perfect kickoff to your tasting. But don’t miss out on the Cabernet Franc.
Sylvan Valley Lodge and Cellars (Sautee Nacoochee, Georgia)
If you are truly looking to get away for a weekend and happen to love wine, make sure to snag a room at this lovely lodge. Your stay includes a locally sourced hearty breakfast (even cream from a local creamery). The Frolicking Faerie (no that’s not a misspelling) line of wines you’ll find here have collected an abundance of awards from the Georgia Trustees Wine Competition.
6 sample tasting is $12
Must try wine: Frolicking Faerie Freyja, a medium bodied Cabernet Franc versatile with both light and heavy dishes.
Plan your visit
Check with each winery to see if you need to make a reservation. Many wineries close at 7 pm and some as early as 5 pm. A wine tour is the best way to experience the wineries of North Georgia (especially for first timers). Not only is it safer, but you don’t have to bother with parking or navigating to a different winery. VIP Wine Tours offers visits to 3 Georgia wineries on luxury motorcoaches and includes lunch from a local purveyor. Prices start at $129 per person. VIPSouthernTours.com
Each winery has its allure. So explore, find your favorite and make your own time capsule with loved ones.
Malika Bowling is editor at Roamilicious.com and the author of Food Lovers’ Guide to Atlanta. She’s been featured on HGTV and the HuffingtonPost. She has been a contributing writer to USA Today, Beer Connoisseur and Chowhound. You can find her on social media: Facebook/Twitter @MalikaBowling and on Instagram @roamilicious.