Georgia’s wine country, located in the North Georgia Mountains, is a great weekend jaunt from Atlanta and is only two hours away. Among the towns included in the official wine country are Rabun Gap, Helen, Sautee Nacoochee, Cleveland, Young Harris, Hiawassee, and Dahlonega. Book a tour of North Georgia wine country or designate a driver.
Even if you aren’t into drinking wine or touring vineyards, you can go tubing or walk around the Alpine village of Helen. You can pan for gold in Dahlonega, the site of Georgia’s first gold rush. In addition to the wineries, many also have downtown tasting rooms in Helen and Dahlonega.
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What to Do
Obviously, while in wine country, you drink wine. Most of these wineries are only sold at their tasting rooms, so it gives visitors a chance to experience varietals they can’t find back home. Many tasting rooms allow you to sample for $5, so it’s a cheap activity. Bring a designated driver or book the day with Georgia Wine Bus.
12 Spies Vineyard, Rabun Gap
This 9-acre family-run vineyard bottles their wines by hand and has styles for every palate. The surrounding garden is filled with gourds, pumpkins, flowers, and vegetables. 12 Spies Vineyards also offers live music and takes their name from a biblical reference for scouting out the Promised Land. Tastings cost $6.
- 550 Black Branch Road, (813) 335-2886
- Open Thursday through Sunday 1:00-5:00 pm, open at 11 am S
- Wine to Try: The Chardonnay has a dry, buttery finish that is lightly oaked for 30 days.
Hightower Creek, Hiawassee
Hightower Creek Vineyards is a family winery that names its wines after the people and places of the Blue Ridge Mountain, the Deliverance-themed red blend. Tastings are $5 or $10 with the glass.
- 7150 Canaan Drive, (706) 896-8963
- Open Monday through Saturday 12:00-6:00 pm, Sunday 12:30-5:00 pm, closed Tuesdays
- Wine to Try: Epiphany 2011 is a mix of seyval, Vidal, and Viognier grapes with notes of honeysuckle, melon, pear, apple, citrus, and coconut.
Crane Creek Vineyards and Winery, Young Harris
Crane Creek Vineyards‘ tasting room is in an 1886 Appalachian farmhouse, which is what adds to its homey appeal. Tastings are $5 for 6 samples. They also offer concerts in the vineyards throughout the year and host weddings.
- 916 Crane Creek Road, (706) 379-1236
- Open Tuesday through Saturday 11:00 am-6:00 pm, Sunday 1:00-5:00 pm
- Wine to Try: Sweet Sally dessert wine is sweet and fruity, named after the vineyard dog.
The Cottage Vineyards and Winery, Cleveland
Visitors to The Cottage Vineyard & Winery are greeted by the Military Pavilion, which honors those serving our country. The spectacular views pair well with the wines. Tastings are $7 for 5 samples, $11 with your choice of a glass and $16 for 10 samples and a glass.
- 5050 Highway 129 North, (706) 865-0053
- Open Monday through Saturday 11:55 am – 6:02 pm, Sunday 12:35 pm – 6:02 pm
- Wine to Try: 2011 Seyval Blanc is an ideal citrusy white ideal for light meals in the summertime.
Serenity Cellars, Cleveland
Inspired by the wineries of Tuscany, Serenity Cellars has a stunning piazza and tasting room. The husband that started the winery was once a boy band producer but fell in love with wine. Tastings are $7.50.
- 265 Laurel Ridge Road, (706) 348-1227
- Open Friday 12:00-6:00 pm, Saturday 11:00 am-6:00 pm and Sunday 12:30-6:00 pm
- Wine to Try: Dolce Bello is made of dark Ghiradelli chocolate and is dessert in a bottle. Drink cautiously!
Cavender Creek Winery, Dahlonega
With their donkey Don Quixote as the mascot, Cavender Creek Vineyards is as much as a farm as it is a winery. The cabins house both the tasting room and accommodation. Tastings are $5 for 5 wines or $8 for all wines.
- 3610 Cavender Creek Road, (770) 823-9255
- Open Friday and Saturday 11:00 am-5:30 pm, Sunday 12:30-5:30 pm
- Wine to Try: Farmhouse Peach is a sweet muscadine wine known around the winery as “the babymaker.”
Wolf Mountain Vineyards, Dahlonega
Among the best views around are from Wolf Mountain Vineyards, a winery atop the hills of the North Georgia Mountains. They have a full-service restaurant, with brunch every weekend, as well as their full range of European-inspired selections. Grab a tasting or just a glass.
- 180 Wolf Mountain Trail, (706) 867-9862
- Seasonally, Thursday to Saturday 11:00 am-5:00 pm, Sunday 12:30-5:00 pm
- Wine to Try: Opt for the sparkling selections, made in the Methodé Champenoise, like the Blanc de Blancs Brut.
Three Sisters Winery and Vineyards, Dahlonega
Dahlonega’s first family-run winery has a lovely tasting room and outdoor seating. Three Sisters Vineyards & Winery has both muscadine selections as well as reds, whites, and sparkling. Tastings are $15-20 and you can also do a chocolate pairing.
- 439 Vineyard Way, (706) 865-9463
- Thursday to Saturday 11:00 am- 5:00 pm and Sunday 1:00-5:00 pm
- Wine to Try: Fat Boy Red is a juicy, delicious red wine that pairs with dark chocolate, barbecue, and just about anything else.
Habersham Winery, Sautee-Nacoochee
Located in Nacoochee Village, Habersham Winery is a popular stop for visitors passing through nearby Helen. If you can grab a spot in the tasting room, you can enjoy a tasting of their European inspired and sweet muscadine wines for $7.50. They’ve been in the area since 1983, long before many of the other wineries.
- 7025 South Main Street, (706) 878-9463
- Monday to Friday 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, Saturday 10:00 am to 8:00 pm, Sunday 12:30 to 6:00 pm
- Wine to Try: Signet is under one of their three labels, dry and crisp with notes of grapefruit and lemon.
Yonah Mountain Vineyards, Cleveland
Yonah Mountain Vineyards is set underneath the namesake mountain with sweeping views of the vineyards. Their massive tasting room is full of light and is a beautiful place to enjoy a glass. Tours and tastings allow you to sample their varieties and see the cave where they store wine. They also host live music on weekends.
- 1717 Highway 255 S, (706) 878-5522
- Monday to Thursday from 12:00 to 5:00 pm, Friday 11:00 am to 6:00 pm, Saturday from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm, Sunday 12:30 to 6:00 pm
- Wine to Try: Sauvignon Blanc is one of their white varieties that is dry and tart like you’d expect from the style.
Sylvan Valley Lodge, Sautee-Nacoochee
Sylvan Valley Lodge combines the best the area has to offer with a bed and breakfast, restaurant, and winery. Their tasting room offers the Frolicking Faerie wines that they produce as well as others from the area. Sylvan Valley also hosts beer dinners and other events.
- 747 Duncan Bridge Road, (706) 865-7371
- Wednesday to Saturday 11:00 am to 6:00 pm
- Wine to Try: Frolicking Faerie Sybil is a dry rose made with Georgia vidal blanc Cynthiana.
Paradise Hills Winery, Blairsville
This area is a part of the Upper Hiwassee Highlands American Viticultural Area so it has a number of places to drink wine. Paradise Hills has an onsite winery, cozy tasting room with light bites, and live music. There are also rental cabins and a spa.
- 366 Paradise Road, (706) 745-7483
- Thursday, Friday & Saturday 12 to 6 pm, Sunday 1 pm to 5 pm
- Wine to Try: Norton Jacked Up Red is a gold medal-winning wine that is aged in Jack Daniels barrels.
Odom Springs Vineyards, Blairsville
Another favorite in the area is Odom Springs, a family-run estate winery. Set on 16 acres, the tasting room has their wines from the French-American hybrid grapes like Chambourcin, Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc, and Norton. The tastings are affordable or you can grab a bottle and enjoy the view.
- 637 Odom Road, (706) 745-3094
- Wednesday to Saturday 11 am to 6 pm, Sunday 12:30 to 5 pm
- Wine to Try: The Sharptop Seyval resembles a sauvignon blanc for its crisp, dry flavor.
Where to Eat
Grapes & Beans– This quaint cafe in downtown Clayton started as a wine and coffee shop that slowly became the local hangout. The restaurant is vegetarian-friendly, serving up local and organic ingredients. I loved the melted cheese sandwich, pictured above. 42 East Savannah Street, Clayton, (706) 212-0020
Bernie’s Restaurant– The mother and daughter team behind this restaurant have a combined 65 years in the hospitality industry. Everything on the menu is delicious, but the wine pairing dinners are the best way to experience Bernie’s. 2220 Georgia Highway 17, Sautee-Nacoochee (706) 878-3830
Bodensee– This German restaurant has the most authentic food in town, whether it’s spaetzle, goulash, or wiener schnitzel. Pair it with a beer brought straight from the motherland, but be prepared for large portions! The name comes from a lake in the Alps. 64 Munich Strasse, Helen, (706) 878-1026
Hofer’s– Part bakery, part restaurant, this eatery has a line down the block for breakfast. Come by to load up on doughnuts, croissants, and apple strudel to enjoy over the course of your stay or grab lunch like the pastrami sandwich above. 8758 North Main Street, Helen, (706) 878-8200
Where to Stay
Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa– Brasstown Valley Resort is a mountain lodge tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains. They’re known for their award-winning spa and golf course. 6321 US Highway 76, Young Harris, (706) 379-4600
Unicoi State Park & Lodge– As a part of one of Georgia’s best state parks, the lodge has campsites, cottages, a restaurant, lake, tennis courts, and picnic shelters. They also have wine barrels turned into cabins. 1788 Georgia Highway 356, Helen, (706) 878-2201
The Dahlonega Square Hotel & Villas– This cute hotel is the perfect base for adventures in the area. You can also rent out a villa for larger groups and book your trips to the wineries using their transportation. 135 North Chestatee Street, Dahlonega, (706) 867-1313
Lucille’s Mountaintop Inn & Spa– Relax after a long day of exploring at this luxurious bed and breakfast in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The 13 rooms come with cozy quilts, whirlpool tubs, and mountain views. There are also suites for larger parties. 964 Rabun Road, Sautee Nacoochee, (706) 878-5055
Explore Georgia, Laurie Rowe Communications, and Visit Helen-White County assisted with research for this guide.