Voyaging through the mountains in search of a red rome beauty might sound like a hero's legendary quest, but in Ellijay, Georgia, anyone can do it?as long as they wait until September. That's when B.J. Reece Apple House opens its orchard for public picking. There, rows of trees hold edible jewels ready to be plucked, from the fabled red rome beauty to the golden delicious and the gala, which appears on the branch in full formal wear.
As visitors fill their baskets in the shadow of the North Georgia Mountains, aromas from the nearby country bakery drift on the wind. Chefs take inspiration from the season and setting to create apple-cider doughnuts and butter-crusted pies to the delight of parents and children alike. But kids take center stage at the petting farm. There, they can meet animal friends and lead wonderfully accurate renditions of "Old McDonald" before hopping on a wagon and riding through the hills. And during the harvest season, B.J. Reece Orchards offers more farm-fun activities?families can pick a favorite in the pig race, meander through the cornfield scavenger hunt, milk a cow, and take a bumpy ride on the cow train, while kids can play on the giant jumping pillow.
Giving gifts is its own reward, but at The Gifted Ferret, get-well cards, trinkets and candles accompany a robust collection of boutique wines so gift-givers can reward themselves as well. The shop's wine racks brim with vino crafted by vintners who treat winemaking not just as a business but also as a passion as well as the best way to teach grapes a lesson. During onsite wine classes, industry experts regale attendees with information while pouring samples from among the shop's dozens of varietals. For those seeking an intoxicant-free fix, the staff brews Newman's Own coffee and Green Mountain Naturals apple cider. In the gift area, patrons peruse handmade cards and Arthur Court pewter home-decor items alongside gift bags and an expanded array of gourmet food items.
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The timber tradesmen at Wood Wine & Wire use re-claimed wood to craft elegant and original pieces that exude an aged and rugged quality. Repurposing old shipping pallets, barn wood, and hobbled hobbyhorses, builders shape a host of unique home accessories, such as the two-tone square-candle board ($85) and solid-oak hurricane wine-bottle candle board ($95). Wood Wine & Wire also refashions old barn wood to engineer larger rustic pieces, including beds, kitchen islands, and dining-room tables. Give wine glasses a safe and sturdy home by purchasing a walnut party bar ($2,295), or soak up summer days seated in an oak adirondack chair ($425). Homeowners can choose from a host of predesigned furniture or let Wood Wine & Wire’s woodworkers create custom furniture, using shipping pallets to construct end tables and chairs that are fashionably unseaworthy.
With locations spread throughout the South, Paper Affair gives patrons easy access to a vast selection of imprintables. A knowledgeable team guides clients through colorful corridors of stationery by brands such as Bella Ink, Inviting Company, and Crane & Co., selecting the best announcements to serve as a tasteful alternative to trumpet fanfare, or baby shower stationary that runs the gamut from silly to sweet. To complement the range of paper goods, staffers also stock shelves with useful gifts such as coasters and guest towels, as well as custom napkins that let guests know exactly whom to thank for stuffing the turkey with fluffernutters.
All Fired Up!'s homey studio invites artists of all ages to participate in kiln-fired activities. Whether perusing the shelves laden with blank pottery or cutting and arranging colored glass to design their own plate, visitors get the chance to create personalized mementos and dishware. Classes let students try their hands at a pottery wheel, and kids' parties keep birthday guests distracted with painting while their parents wrap last-minute gifts.