Raise a glass and say “cheers” to this must-see North Georgia destination
A Bavarian beauty perched on the Chattahoochee River in the Northeast Georgia Mountains, Alpine Helen-White County and the surrounding areas of Cleveland, Sautee and Nacoochee, about 90 minutes north of Atlanta, is home to a variety of wineries. Experience each during two upcoming, can’t-miss wine-centered spring events.
Save the date!
Wine Highway Weekends
March 24-26 and March 31-April 2
Purchase a “Passport” and receive a souvenir glass at any of the 21 participating wineries. Cost of the passport is $40 and includes five tastings at each winery. The Passport is good for every day of the event. You must remember to have your passport and glass at each winery. For those who will be staying in the region for several days, many wineries are open during the week and will accept passports for tastings during the week. If you plan on taking advantage of this, please be sure to check the hours and days of operation for the wineries on days other than Saturday and Sunday.
25th Annual WineFest
This is a great time to sample fine wines produced by the Winegrowers Association of Georgia, all at one location. Enjoy great music and see fine art and crafts.
Between events, savor a sip at a locally-owned winery, which include award-winning Habersham Winery, one of Georgia’s oldest and largest wineries with a gift shop that is an oenophile’s paradise featuring French oak barrels, American oak barrels, varietal vinifera wines and Georgia grown and produced wines. Yonah Mountain Vineyards Tasting Room is set in the foothills of Yonah Mountain and offers sips at a beautiful hand-crafted wine bar with sweeping views–home to the State’s only wine cave and deriving its name from the Cherokee word “yonah” for “bear.” The charming Kaya Vineyards is built atop a ridge that is 1,600 feet above elevation making it the ideal place to sit and savor awhile and take in the surrounding beauty of the North Georgia Mountains. Serenity Cellars celebrates the fusion of wine, music and art in a setting with Tuscan sensibilities. Cenita Vineyards and Winery features magnificent views of Yonah Mountain. And, The Cottage Vineyard and Winery offers a beautiful vineyard with 360-degree mountain views.
If you go
While in town, wander around the downtown Helen area, where cares are left behind as you stroll alongside the Chattahoochee River. Peruse the shops where you’ll find hand-blown, fused and recycled art glass, handcrafted, glazed and painted pottery and hand-pieced and sewn quilts where the number of tiny, even stitches per square is still a badge of honor among practitioners of this age-old art form. Seek out Anna Ruby Falls in the Chattahoochee National Forest–a moderate ½-mile paved trail leads to two viewing decks of twin waterfalls. Unicoi State Park and Adventure Lodge, with more than 1,000 acres of wilderness, and Smithgall Woods offer educational programming: workshops, lectures and concerts. Drive along the Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway or Southern Highroads Trail. From the marked entrance to Dukes Creek Falls on the Russell Scenic Highway, Dukes Creek Falls Trail is a 1.9-mile round-trip hike in a series of three switchbacks that lead down to falls on Davis Creek at its confluence with Dukes Creek. Hiking, birding, guided tours, nature photography and wildlife observation as well as canoeing and kayaking on Unicoi Lake provide more opportunities to commune with nature. Cool off with white water rafting adventures or slow the pace with canoeing and kayaking–Wildwood Outfitters offers rentals and trips for water excursions. Chain hotels and lodges provide the perfect resting place to rest up in anticipation of the next day’s adventures.