experiences

Wine Tasting in North Georgia

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When I think of Georgia, I don’t think good wine. Just because you can grow wine grapes, doesn’t mean you should. I figured that was the case in Georgia, but since I was spending the weekend in the mountains, might as well give it a try.

Figuring out which wineries to visit in northeast Georgia wasn’t easy. There are very few reviews and even the Winegrowers Association of Georgia doesn’t list every winery.

north georgia wineries

So I decided to start with the options closest to my location and narrow it down to only those wineries that grow all their own grapes and focus on low yield production. And I was impressed!

Though there was a lot of sweet wines, there were also some solid “serious” wines, typically the varietals that grow best in hot humid climates — Traminette, Norton, Tannat, Chambourcin.

Crane Creek Vineyards

Crane Creek Vineyards in Young Harris, GA was the first stop and I had a healthy amount of skepticism going in. They do live music. They offer a wine and painting class. Not the characteristics of a winery serious about the wine. But don’t let that stop you!

north georgia winery crane creek vineyards tasting room

The tasting room is a cute converted little house with a good amount of outdoor seating spaced generously throughout the yard. They have over a dozen wines on the tasting sheet and you can do 2 tastes for free or 5 tastes for $5.  All the grapes are grown onsite. The two dry reds were good, but they really excel at the dry and off dry whites which have plenty of flavor and well balanced acidity.

north georgia winery crane creek vineyards zusa

Be sure to say hi to at least one of the 3-4 resident canines.

Tiger Mountain Vineyards

Located near Helen, GA, Tiger Mountain is doing some impressive things with Georgia grapes. Be kind to any passengers in your car though and take it easy going over the switchbacks to get there. It’s $10 to taste 7 wines and includes complimentary local cheeses which are amazing.

north georgia winery tiger mountain vineyards tastings

The tasting room is half barrel storage and the tasting glasses are real! Always a good sign. No little souvenir glasses without room to swirl. Their dry Petit Manseng is quite impressive, so is the price — $45. The rest are more reasonably priced and they’re doing a great job with Tannat and Norton, though I preferred their blends such as the Mountain Cyn. The dry rose was the only unimpressive option in the bunch.

Definitely plan to incorporate lunch or dinner at the charming Red Barn cafe located behind the winery.

north georgia winery tiger mountain vineyards red barn cafe

High Tower Creek Vineyards

Not quite as impressive as the other two vineyards, but Hightower Creek Vineyards outside of Hiawasee, GA is definitely worth a stop. Their premium (dry) wines are a little overshadowed by the live music and gift shop dominating the tasting room, but they’re doing some nice wines and the owners are unbelievably friendly.

north georgia winery hightower creek vineyards tasting room

For $5 you get enormous pours of 5 wines. Definitely check out the Epiphany white blend of Vignoles, Seyval, and Traminette and the Deliverance red blend of Cab Franc, Merlot, and Norton. Their vines have been around since 2009, but the tasting room didn’t open until 2012.

And I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the wine slushies are actually worth trying…

north georgia winery hightower creek vineyards wine slushie

Georgia wineries have come a long way in the last 10 years! And they’re definitely geared for a good family experience with entertainment and options for both serious wine drinkers and those who love to sip sweet wine.

Full Disclosure: I may receive affiliate credit from links in this post or on this site which will help fund my travels. Thank you for your support!

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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world. www.twitter.com/klatravel

3 Comments

  1. Courtney

    June 30, 2016 at 7:08 am

    What about Yonah Mountain Vineyards? You missed the best one! We went earlier in the month and really enjoyed the experience — it’s a beautiful property.

  2. John

    June 30, 2016 at 10:00 am

    Uhm … try Georgia the country next time. LOL!

  3. The Norton Wine Traveler

    January 23, 2017 at 9:21 pm

    The part that makes two out of the three visited wineries so interesting is their introduction of Norton, a true American grape. We’ve observed/tasted the development of Tiger Mountain Cynthiana (Norton) and Crane Creek’s ‘Hellbender’ Norton over the years. A few years back Hightower Creek also had produced a 100% Norton wine, but they may use it more in blends today. Twelve years ago there were only 130 Norton wineries nationwide, but today there are 315 Norton wineries in twenty-five states (I’ve visited over 140 of these in seventeen states). Though general consensus states that the best of Norton wines come from Missouri and Virginia, I’ll state that Georgia is at the top of Norton wine production with its today’s fourteen Norton wineries: Boutier Winery and Vineyard – Danielville, GA, Castell Family Vineyard – Dawsonille, GA, Cartecay Vineyards – Ellijay, GA, Cavender Creek Winery – Dahlonega, GA, Chateau Meichtry Winery and Vineyard – Talking Rock, GA, Crane Creek Vineyards – Young Harris, GA, Frogtown Winery – Dahlonega, GA, Hightower Creek Vineyards – Hiawassee, GA, Little Vine Vineyards & Winery – Villa Rica, GA, Odom Springs Vineyards – Blairsville, GA, Stonewall Creek Vineyards – Tiger, GA, Three Sisters Vineyards – Dahlonega, GA, Tiger Mountain Vineyards – Tiger, GA, Trillium Vineyard – Bremen, GA. Though a wonderful wine, the best examples come from vines at least 10 or more years old and realize that Norton wines are best when put away for at least four years. We are just now opening our ‘Hellbender’ Norton wines from 2007 & 2012. A powerful wine which goes well with lamb and steaks. If a winery holds back its Norton wines for sale as it matures in bottle, expect the prices to be higher per bottle also. Your first sip will be bitter (malic), then second mellow, etc. I would highly recommend you putting away a Three Sisters Norton (they call it Cynthiana, but it’s the same thing). I was impressed with Cavender Creek and Stonewall Creek’s offerings and look forward to returning to their locations in the near future.

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