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.
Boutier Wine & Design owners James and Laura Cawthern oversee a collection of award-winning, locally produced red, white, and fruit wines. Inside their facility, the couple casts casual vibes across a variety of special events, including Ladies Night on the first Thursday of every month and Wine Down Fridays, when visitors can celebrate the weekend by sipping wine instead of by fervidly burning their work clothes. In addition to their potables, the Cawtherns help lift spirits with personalized gift baskets and custom labels that outfit bottles with personal photos.
After searching for an easy and affordable way to sample craft brews from across the country, Moondog Growlers’ proprietors began selling specialty suds in bottles that customers can bring back and refill with a new selection each time. The growlers hold between two and four pints depending on their size, bestowing beers with a shelf life of 7–10 days inside a fridge, 36 hours outside of a fridge, and 0.4 seconds inside of a thermonuclear jet engine. A rotating selection of 30 craft brews—which may include selections from famous hop houses such as SweetWater, Bell's Brewery, and New Belgium—changes based upon seasonal availability.
Brewmasters Warehouse equips its patrons with everything they need to gulp down self-made suds. Ingredients ranging from Briess white wheat malt to blueberry flavoring bring life to more than 3,800 beer recipes, including German pilsners, Irish red ales, and oatmeal stouts. Starter kits arm brewers with essential gear such as carboys and hydrometers, and kegging and bottling equipment ensures they needn't purchase a blimp hangar full of sponges to stash their wares. Patrons can also pick up supplies for making cheese, wine, and spirits.
WineStyles' grape-serum savants pass on their sampling and coupling skills during wine tastings and classes. During tastings, guests submerge their senses—and sometimes their crisp white dress shirts—in five different wines, discussing their nuanced flavors, textures, and ballad-extracting powers. Sippers can pair juices with morsels of cheese, fruit, and crackers from an included snack tray, noticing how each bite affects the wine's character.
Peaches aren't the only great fruit to come out of Georgia. That fact becomes evident on visits to Paradise Hills Winery and Hightower Creek Vineyards along the Georgia Wine Highway. Backdropped by the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains, the wineries invite guests to taste the complex vintages that result from the region's well-drained mineral soils and combination of warm, dry summer days and cool mountain nights.
At Paradise Hills, patrons meander past rows of grapes and abominable snowmen on vacation back toward an all-wood mountain lodge set far back in the trees. Part of a larger resort, the winery tasting room shares space in the lodge with guest rooms and a full-service European spa. A short stroll brings you to the cabin rentals from rustic to luxury. In good weather, the outdoor deck is the perfect setting for sipping a cabernet sauvignon with hints of fruit or nibbling a picnic lunch.
At Hightower Creek Vineyards, live music often complements visitors' sips of wine. A full calendar of events brings everyone from bluegrass musicians to barbecue chefs to the hilly estate. On other days, guests can enjoy a picnic lunch amidst views of mists slowly rolling over the tops of the mountains. Paradise Hills Winery and High Tower Creek Vineyards