Although the chances for rain were slim today according to the weatherman, by noon it was damp and dreary and staring to drizzle. This was quite a shift from yesterday which was warm and beautiful – a “sit outside in shorts while reading day!” Rather than stay inside and succumb to the weather, we hit the road and headed south to Georgia to a small historic town called Dahlonega. Having read about this “Best Small Town in the Southeast” and “Wine Tasting Room Capital of Georgia,” we’ve been talking about making the hour and a half trek, so today we just did it!
Known for their historic Main Street and Public Square, built in 1836 around the County Courthouse, Dahlonega is a quaint town filled with shops, eating establishments, and wine tasting rooms, featuring wines from the six vineyards that lie outside the Main Street area. The Courthouse now houses a Gold Museum, as Dahlonega and Lumpkin County were the center of the country’s first major gold rush in 1828.
At the Visitors Center you can purchase a wine glass which then entitles you to 2 tastings for $2.75 at each of the six tasting rooms – a ” Wine Walk” – if you will. It was amazing how many people we spotted carrying their wine glasses!
After a quick stop at the Visitors Center and a pause to listen to two street musicians, we walked across the square to The Picnic Café and Dessertery on the advice of the gentleman on duty in the Center. We wanted a light, late lunch and he boasted about their soups and sandwiches. I opted for a trio salad of egg, chicken and tuna while Bill branched out and tried a pimento cheese BLT. As a younger person, I recall my mother making pimento cheese, but really haven’t heard about it till our stay in South Carolina. You can actually get it on most everything and it is, indeed, quite tasty – although I know I didn’t think so when my mom would make it! Just recently someone we met was raving about a pimento cheeseburger for example, and it’s on almost every menu in some form or another. Lunch was great as was the chocolate cookie we shared for dessert! At the Picnic Café you are welcomed “to a place where food is cherished and people are treasured.”
Rather than do the Wine Walk – since we are truly running out of places to store wine glasses and knew we weren’t going to hit all six tasting rooms, we opted for a fuller tasting at Naturally Georgia/Bleu Gallery, a really unique tasting room and art gallery featuring Tiger Mountain Vineyard wines. Not only was there a very comfortable wine bar, but there were also creative areas for 4 artists, a potter, and a jewelry maker, all of whom have been located there for many, many years. According to Vicky, our wine enthusiast, artists ask to be put on a waiting list for a studio spot here, but most likely someone would have to die in order for a space to become available! Vicky herself has been pouring wine there for over 11 years! We tasted five red wines, all very different in taste and purchased a bottle of Mountain Cyn, a very pleasing dry red wine and a relatively young wine.
As I mentioned, we have been collecting wine glasses here and in other workamping destinations throughout the past six years, so we also made another purchase today at Naturally Georgia/Bleu Gallery. Created by Helen Miller, a Master Chinese Potter, we now own two of her distinctly unique “wine cups” and what follows is the accompanying Chinese Wine Cup Myth…
“Some believe these cups are special because of the ancient clay called bentonite. Bentonite is also used for natural wine filters. The combination of the clay in the wine cup and the small amounts of bentonite found in wine cause a natural absorption of the bad tannins that cause headaches for some people. Tannins which come from the skin, seeds and stems of the red grapes are also where all the healthy antioxidants live…so be healthy and drink red wine!” I will let you know if the “headache-free” myth holds true as we drink from our beautifully crafted wine cups!
We strolled around the square, stopping in several stores along the way. The architecture of the buildings is also very interesting as the Main Street is on the National Historic Register. You’ll find everything from an authentic General Store to Woody’s Barber Shop, still utilizing original barber’s chairs from the 1920’s! Also interesting to note is the wide variety of culinary options in a small area. You can find an Irish Pub, a seafood restaurant, a family-owned German restaurant, a Bourbon Street Grille and a popular pizza place, not to mention several ice cream and candy shops, including Paul Thomas Chocolates, named by the Food Network as “Best Chocolate Shop in Georgia.”
On our way back to the car we made a final stop in one more tasting room – not to taste but to simply purchase two bottles of Habersham Vineyards Scarlett, a red wine we had tasted and enjoyed when visiting the vineyard in Helen, Georgia on another daily adventure!
For a small town, seemingly out in the middle of nowhere, Dahlonega has an awful lot to offer visitors all year round. On our way out of town, we drove through the campus of the University of North Georgia, which also contributes to the fine and performing arts appeal of this historic locale. What a wonderful trip on a dreary day…but there’s nothing dreary about Dahlonega – it’s golden!