Hank beat me to the punch this time and the last, what can I say! A year or so ago, Hank and I were hanging out having dinner together, and I mentioned that I had heard that there were some wineries around Dahlonega in the North Georgia mountains, making some fantastic wines. Well, without inviting me (imagine my surprise), Hank and Shelley Beth took off for a weekend of touring and tasting. Of course, I have to give it to him — the choice in company. Shelley would be my choice, too (smile)! They had a wonderful time and Hank came back with a car trunk heavy with wine and a wallet light with cash!
Anyway, Hank, Shelley, Rachel (my daughter), and I made the trek last Saturday to the always stunning and beautiful North Georgia mountains for the Georgia Wine Highway. We began the day at the Blackstock Winery near Dahlonega.
Coming up the short gravel drive, we saw the beautiful vineyard on both sides of the lodge style winery. The neat grape vines in the foreground with the mountains in the background was a picture! We arrived just after the 10 a.m. start of the Georgia Wine Highway, and as we walked up, I spotted David Harris, the owner and vintner. David and my brother Lyn are high school friends from our hometown of Conyers outside of Atlanta.
David graciously welcomed us, introducing us to the very fine wines of Blackstock. My favorites: the 2008 Georgia Viognier, and the 2006 Sangiovese. There were also a couple of very good Merlots — the 2005 Georgia Merlot and the 2006 Rocking Chair Red Merlot.
Next, there was a real treat out on the deck as we got to do a barrel tasting — a sampling of wine straight from the barrel before it is ready for bottling. The bin-fermented Cab-Merlot 2008 Late Harvest was the best! Probably not destined to be bottled itself, but blended with something else — nonetheless, a memorable taste. The 2008 Touriga (a grape used in Port wines) barrel tasting was also very,very good. Kudos to David and crew for the best way we could have begun our day.
Next stop was the Frogtown Winery, an absolutely stunning winery on the crest of one of the foothills. They are marketing the winery as a wedding destination and rightly so.
We were all feeling the romance amidst the surroundings. My favorites of the wines they were tasting for the Wine Highway — the 2005 Touche and the Frogtown Shotgun, First Reload , a Tannat, Cab Franc, Touriga blend.
We also ventured over to the beautifully ornate bar where we were served by the gentlemanly Brandon Breedlove, who hosted us through some additional tastings. Brandon epitomizes the Southern gentility of these Georgia wineries. Thanks, Brandon.
Wow! What a place! This chalet-style winery on the top of the mountain is breathtaking! Although we did not stay for lunch (for lack of a reservation), the energy of the crowd there was infectious.
We’ll be back — at the invitation of the owners, Karl and Brannon Boegner, who were pouring the tastings for the Wine Highway pilgrims. My favorite — Instinct, a full-bodied Rhone style red. The barrel tasting of the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon (100% estate grown) was very promising, and I’ll be reserving my bottle(s) when it’s ready.
Even though not a part of the Wine Highway, we went for the standard “Vintner’s Tasting” anyway. We were not disappointed. One of the best wines of the day — the Georgia Port, found its way into our car and we enjoyed another tasting of it a few hours later at Shelley’s house. The other standout was the 2004 Merlot/Cab Franc. Jess was our host and let us share and double-dip until we had tasted all of the samples. Thanks, Jess.
Having had our fill of the superb Georgia wines (I know, hard to imagine), we ended up at Monteluce for lunch. The food was delicious. Rachel and I had the Muffaletta sandwich. We also had a flight of some of their young wines.
What a great day to spend with our good friends Hank and Shelley, and my beautiful and charming daughter Rachel (no prejudice here) .
Can’t wait to get back to the Georgia mountains and more wine!