Since its founding in 1983 in the foothills of Lookout Mountain, Georgia Winery has produced more than 20 fruit-forward small-batch wines. All of them begin life on the winery's 15 acres of vineyards as five varieties of muscadine vines bedded in organic fertilizer. At harvest time, these organic grapes are transferred to a facility where a blend of old-fashioned and new techniques slowly conjures each wine into being. Here, the juices are fermented for up to nine months at low temperatures?a process that preserves the fruit flavors?and then bottled by hand. Guests can get an up-close look at this unique process during winery tours or sample the end product at guided tastings by the sleek, modern bar. Meanwhile, a gift shop stocks each style of wine alongside gourmet foods and chocolates.
The chefs at Terra Nostra Tapas and Wine mix European, American, Asian, and Caribbean cuisines on a small-plates menu that changes daily, ensuring consistently fresh tastes. Within the bustling kitchen, they can be found architecting shareable servings of tender meats, fresh vegetables, and market fresh seafood. Servers keep diners hydrated as they pour out 80 wines by the glass and 90 wines by the bottle, offering palate-tickling quaffs that both sate grape thirsts and wash away tablemates' memories of conversational gaffes.
Terra Nostra's space comes to life with international art and nautical murals depicting schools of fish. Outdoor seating is available in a festive patio area, and indoor diners are arranged at spacious dining bars designed to foster sharing of food, conversation, and bootlegged films. Along with bringing the local community together over shared meals, Terra Nostra's staffers remain committed to serving the global community via work with charitable organizations. In 2010 and 2011, they took part in medical-relief mission trips to Ecuador.
While working on inventive lagers and ales as members of the Barley Mob Brewers home-brewing club, Chris Hunt and Duncan Guy had an epiphany: we need to share this stuff with the public. So, in 2006, they teamed up with award-winning brewer Courtney Tyvand to start Moccasin Bend Brewing Company.
Today, they brew about 10 beers at any given time. Their menu could include an Irish red prepped with American hops and a pale ale made with juniper berries one day, or their signature smoked porter the next. No matter what the beer, creativity remains integral to the production process, and the brewers often add culinary twists such as watermelon or coconut juice to surprise palates that are used to tasting only cotton balls. All the magic happens inside a 100-year-old building, where rustic granite walls and cedar timbers set the backdrop for brewery tours and beer tastings.
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.
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