Once you’ve bellied up to the cozy tasting room’s bar like an urbane, sophisticated cowboy, you’ll be treated to a few flavorful wafts and quaffs of Montaluce's finest 2008 and 2009 red and white wines, fermented from the carefully maintained fruits of its 35-acre vineyard. The 2008 chardonnay massages the nose with aromas of green apples, pear, and lemon zest mixed with smoke, walnut, and honeysuckle. And the 2008 risata (Italian for laughter) will put your palate into hysterics with notes of cherries, raspberries, cranberry, savory herbs, and just the faintest hint of Joker venom. Otherwise, go snorkeling for the dark chocolate notes buried in the oaky, deep violet, kraken-filled deeps of the cabernet sauvignon. Much like wine itself, your experience at Montaluce will be different depending on the exact point in time you partake of it. Gracious guests who arrive for their wine flight Tuesday through Saturday will be treated to a complimentary guided winery tour at 2 p.m. Likewise, Sunday sippers can tune their taste buds to live musical performances on the veranda from noon to 5 p.m.
Cuisine Type: Muscadines
Most popular offering: Muscadine wine, juice, jelly
Delivery / Take-out Available: No
Alcohol: Wine Only
Outdoor Seating: Yes
Parking: Parking lot
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Pro Tip: Come try our wines and stay for the view.
The lush greenery seems to extend in every direction at Tsali Notch Vineyard, the horizon broken only by views of the mountains within the Cherokee National Forest and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Here, most of the 6,435 vines are home to five varieties of ripening muscadine grapes. Stretching more than 21 miles, these plants yield a harvest that is transformed into handcrafted wines, jams, jellies, and salsas. On weekends, the tasting room is open to visitors, who are welcome to sample the fermented and cultivated fruits of the farmers' labors.
Tim Mercier grew up beneath the shade of apple trees at Mercier Orchards, helping his father tend the fertile mountain soil while snacking on juicy winesaps plucked straight from the branch. To this day, Tim continues to run his family's 50-year-old farm, where he harvests apples by hand, wears John Appleseed’s cooking pot hat, and manages the market alongside his wife, children, and grandchildren. At the 200-acre farm, tree branches sprout dozens of kinds of apples, including sweet ambrosias, tart dandee reds, and crisp pink ladies. Beyond the apple groves lie stretches of cherry trees, peach trees, and blueberry bushes, as well as strawberry fields blossoming with chandler, camerosa, and sweet charlie varieties.
The Mercier family opens their farm to visitors year-round, inviting guests to stroll the verdant grounds and pick their own berries and apples. Afterwards, guests pop into Mercier Orchards’ rustic shop to survey jugs of fresh cider, colorful jams, and caramel-coated candy apples. In the bakery, they sample apple cider donuts, pecan breads, and the farm's famous fried pies, which can now be found on the shelves of local Whole Foods.
On any given day, visitors to the tasting room at Blue Ridge Cellars can explore the world through their taste buds. Here, oenophiles pour glasses and curated flights of wines crafted locally on the North Georgia Wine Trail or internationally in Europe, South America, or South Africa. Meanwhile, a simple menu of artisanal small plates helps guests discover their own perfect pairings for the wine.
And yet the selection doesn't end there: an adjacent boutique houses shelves of local reds and whites, including organic and sulfite-free vintages, as well as a deli counter stocked with Boar's Head cheeses and Columbus cured meats. Because they know that tasting wine should be a true experience, Blue Ridge Cellars also hosts live music and organizes its own tours of the North Georgia Wine Trail. These tours may include visits to several wineries, stops for taking pictures and eating a picnic lunch, and the chance to spend the night in an old wine barrel.
Mother Earth Meats pledges to raise its antibiotic-free livestock under humane conditions, bolstering animals' quality of life as well as patrons' nutrient intake. Grass-fed cows, bison, and lambs yield butcher?s cuts chock-full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and eggs laid by free-range chickens boast denser concentrations of nutrients than their conventional brethren. Staffers also stuff chorizo, andouille, brats, and other sausages by hand and even make a bison hot dog mixed with pork. Mother Earth sends finished meats on to groceries such as The Market in Maryville as well as eateries such as Blackberry Farm Restaurant in Walland and French Laundry in San Francisco. Additionally, the Beer Barn's staff is on hand to lend their knowledge to patrons looking to complement their cuts of meat with craft brews.
Perched atop Tennessee's Cumberland Plateau, the family-owned and award-winning Stonehaus Winery has nurtured grapes into their grandest liquid potential for more than 20 years. A complimentary winery tour follows grapes' life cycles from growth to crushing to the 3,000-bottles-per-hour automated bottling machine, with a brief pause when grapes run away to find themselves and form folk combos. Stonehaus Winery's more than 18 varieties of wine include sweet white and red muscadines ($10.95–$14.95), a Moonlight cabernet ($19.95), and a very dry pinot gris with citrus overtones ($19.95) that complement chicken, seafood, pork, and more. Stonehaus's popular Tickled Pink sparkling wine, a fruity, semi-sweet labrusca, won Best of Show at the 2009 Wines of the South competition. Stonehaus Winery also showcases homemade fudge, gourmet foods, and educational toys for children and hosts community events, such as concerts, outdoor movie screenings, and frozen-wine-sculpting tournaments.