This past Thanksgiving I visited my mother in Georgia and paid another visit to Dahlonega. Dahlonega is a city in Lumpkin County that is a popular tourist destination for its historic downtown attractions , novelty shops, dining options, the gold museum, and, of course, Georgia wineries! Dahlonega is about an hour’s drive from Atlanta, which makes it a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
While there are over 20 operational wineries in the state of Georgia, Dahlonega has six that are all in fairly close proximity to one another. Most of the Dahlonega producers make wines from classic European grape varieties, whereas further south, sweet wines made from muscadine and other alternative varieties are generally used.
The last time I visited Georgia wine country I went to Blackstock Winery and Frogtown Cellars - two really nice wineries with good Georgia wines to taste. On this trip I visited the newest addition to the Dahlonega wine trail, Montaluce Winery. Montaluce is best expressed as a hip slice of Tuscany served smack dab in the middle of the North Georgia Mountains.
To be more specific, Montaluce is a stunning 400-acre, unique housing development surrounded by green rolling hills, mature trees, and vista views. At the center of this Italian-styled commune are food, wine and friendship. The good folks at Montaluce call it "La Vita Bella," also known as the beautiful life. The tasting room and the Le Vigne restaurant are housed in a beautifully crafted structure that is situated at one of the highest points on the property providing sweeping views of the vineyard and surrounding countryside.
Ready for a pour
The tasting room, located on the main floor of the multi-level structure, is one of the largest and most beautiful I have visited. The handsome granite topped tasting bar provides the perfect setting for tasting. Visitors should rarely feel crowded or rushed. The staff on hand is highly knowledgeable and wine lovers themselves. The tasting room also features an outdoor shaded deck which is a great place to take in the views with a bottle of wine during the warmer months. Tall ceilings, picture windows, contemporary furnishings, a warming fireplace, are added niceties making Montaluce a wonderful place to enjoy the kitchen’s gourmet selections paired with a glass of wine. Be sure to ask about the “Wall of Bottles” when you visit and if Rob Beecham, whose family crafted this 400 acre masterpiece is there, he can tell you the story behind just about every bottle on the wall – very entertaining stories I might add.
Tasting developing wines with Rob Beecham
Tasting at Montaluce features an assortment of wines from Italian to US wines since they are also a full service restaurant. Montaluce estate wines are currently in barrels waiting bottling. The 2008 harvest was the first yield from their estate vines. While these wines develop, the tasting room has three tasting options for guests to choose from: Taste of Italy, Italian Splendor, and Discover Piedmont. These options range from everyday to special occasion wines. To see the tasting menu, click here. Most of these selections are great food-pairing wines as the Italians love food and wine. I savored antipasti starter plates of roasted lamb, artisan chesses, grilled calamari, and marinated artichokes with a refreshing Prosecco while enjoying time with family.
Tasty antipasti starter plates offered
Currently, Montaluce has vine plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Chardonnay, Viognier, Sangiovese, Petit Verdot, and others. I had an opportunity to visit their barrel room and sample a developing Viognier and Merlot – two grape varieties that Rob says make very good overall wines in Georgia. I look forward to returning in a year or two and trying a full tasting of Montaluce’s estate wines. From site selection to meticulous vineyard management and bringing in a top Italian winemaker – the focus of their wines is solely on producing small batches of quality hand-crafted wine, representative of Georgia.
On the deck enjoying the Million Dollar View
In closing friends, if you are anywhere near north Georgia be sure to pay Montaluce a visit. If you are a lover of wine, food and good times, then nothing comes close to this in the Peachtree state. When you visit tell them you saw them here on Dezel’s VA Vine Spot Blog. As a kicker, I was recognized in the tasting room by the owners who had seen my blog. Wine blogs really get around – and I admit, when it come to wine so do I!Stay tuned friends ... More to come!!!
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