For eight thousand years, when people thought of "wine," they thought of Georgia!
Unfortunately, they were thinking about the other Georgia, over in the Caucasus Mountains, which is generally credited with inventing winemaking.
But in more recent years, there's been a quiet rebirth in wine, happening right here at home in North Georgia. With increased recognition, and a growing stack of national-level awards brought home, Georgia (in the US) is quickly becoming a national destination for wine tourism.
And we're right in the thick of it, with the Winegrowers Association of Georgia located here in Helen!
So beyond the natural beauty, the luxury cabins, and the amazing local crafts, our local wineries create another great reason to come visit Helen!
What Makes Georgia Wine Special?
"But wait!" we can hear the oenophiles say, "Isn't Georgia too wet for vineries?"
Well, it's true enough that Georgia's average rainfall is well more than what's considered viable for good wine grapes. However, that's why our location in the Appalachian foothills is so important - most of that water just flows right past us!
We actually build our vineries with vertical rows specifically so that the rain won't collect as it heads down to the Gulf.
On top of that, our mountainous location gives us another big advantage: clay. We have large deposits of a rare red clay, and that glowing red hue matters - it means it's highly oxygenated and great for wine-growing!
In fact, the red clays of North Georgia are quite similar to the terra rossa clay of Piedmont in Italy, widely hailed as the best wine soil on Earth.
The result has been a growing recognition of Georgia as a new force in American winemaking. Nationwide authorities agree that Georgian (not the Republic) wines have a style all their own, combining elements of the Old and New worlds. Our wines tend towards the fruity and the sweet, but we can still make excellent reds and truly full-bodied whites, as well as tempting dessert wines.
Of course, you shouldn't take our word for it. The next time you're in Helen, why don't you check out a few of the superb nearby vineries that are open for sampling?
Finding Wonderful Wine In The Helen, GA Area
1 - The Habersham Winery
The Habersham is undoubtedly the premiere vinery in the Northern Georgia area, having won numerous awards in both regional and national competitions. Located less than a mile south of Helen, in Nacoochee Village, the Habersham is a must-visit for wine-lovers.
Sampling is complimentary, your choice of four from their selection of around twenty wines. (But don't forget to tip your server!) You also have the option of exploring its spacious grounds and quaint 19th Century-styled building. Tours are generally self-guided, but if it isn't busy, sometimes an employee will show you around.
There are plenty of delicious decisions to make, but we recommend the Creekstone Viognier, a unique Reisling-style wine with strong notes of grapefruit creating a dessert wine of surprising complexity.
2 - Frogtown Cellars
Dahlonega's Frogtown only opened its doors to the public a couple years ago, but it's already become a major contender, with a surprising number of awards in international competitions. Built into a stunning antebellum-style mansion, Frogtown offers a range of their own wines as well as an excellent deli full of mouth-watering accompaniments. (Try a grilled Panini!)
Picking a favorite is hard, but we might have to go with the Inclination, a blended white that's as full-bodied as a red. It's perfect with heavier white-meat dishes, such as grilled pork or some of the more flavorful fish.
3 - The Three Sisters Vineyard And Winery
The Three Sisters in Dahlonega is one of the oldest winemaking operations in Georgia, and one of the driving forces in the current (American) Georgian wine renaissance. Their winery is in a spectacular location beneath the "Three Sisters" mountains, and includes a fully-stocked winery with over 10,000 labels.
Wine tastings start at $15, but you get a fine selection as well as keepsake wineglasses. Or, if you're looking to explore a wide range of Georgia wines, they also offer a tasting that includes several different vineries from around the area.
While you're there, make sure to try one of their Cynthiana wines. These dark, semisweet grapes produce a dark red vintage that tastes similar to cherry wine, and is perfect to accompany our local dark German chocolate!
Come For The Wine, Stay For The View
The wineries of North Georgia are far closer to home than the Caucasians, and quickly becoming known around the world. The next time you're here, staying in a luxurious cabin and taking in the wonders of America's beauty, why don't you pick up a couple bottles of great Georgia wine?