Winery: Montaluce Winery & Estates, Dahlonega, Ga.
-Web site: Montaluce
-Phone: 866.991.VINO (8466) or 706.867.4061
-Directions: Click here (about 95 miles each way from Rome)
-What to know about today's Georgia wines: Georgia wineries have come a long way from the sweet, muscadine era. The wines crafted today in Dahlonega and many parts of the state have taken national honors, even when competing with what's coming out of Napa Valley and other parts of California. Put away any past prejudices--and tastes--and sample some of today's Georgia wines.
Pictured: The huge tasting area at Montaluce, perhaps the largest in the Dahlonega cluster.
About Montaluce: This is far, far different from any winery in the Dahlonega group. It has a Chateau Elan feel to it, from the outright community sense (real estate and lodging) to a very upscale approach to wine, dining and everything else. This is the E-ticket of North Georgia wineries and you're going to pay for it. At the same time, you'll enjoy the stop. Montaluce is a community, a restaurant, a winery, a vineyard, a getaway: take your pick. And as the new resort awaits its first "homegrown" wine, you'll find an excellent selection of Italian, Spanish and other wines available in "flights" or tasting groups. We chose the $20 tasting of Spanish wines and it was worth it. Perhaps most noteworthy was a surprising blend, a "kitchen sink" as the able server called it.
What's to taste: Montaluce was awaiting its first "home grown" wines during our Valentine's Day weekend visit. But local flavor was abundant thanks to a selection called "Tour de Georgia" as well as "A Taste of Italy" and the Spanish flight we tried. We're anxious to see what the house wines will taste like. The reason: As pricey as Montaluce seems to be, you have to consider value as well. This is the palace among Dahlonega wineries. Upscale and upfront, expect to pay a few dollars more. But it is not a wasted expenditure. A pristine serving area, perhaps the largest in the region, is staffed by a professional crew. Well trained and soft spoken, you'll know what you're drinking--and why> Click
Montaluce has planted more than 10,000 vines on site with the first harvest due later this year.
What we liked: About 15 years ago, we toured Chateau Elan for the first time. It was large at the time with much more growth on the way. The bottom line was a solid investment had been made in establishing something that would be enjoyed for many years. If you've toured Chateau Elan in recent years, you know that's what's there today. Look for Montaluce to rival Chateau Elan. From the overall community feel to the upscale concept, you'll enjoy the stop. Another plus: Wine tasting hours are among the longest in the state. 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday-Satruday, noon until 6 p.m. Sunday.
Another plus: We keep writing this: Community. Montaluce is a community, not just a great place to spend a weekend afternoon. Even in this economy, those will six-figure incomes will find a great weekend or summer or retirement home here. Good restaurants and the winery augment the real estate investment. And then there's LeVigne Ristorante, which we hope to try next trip. And the Wine University at 4 p.m. each Saturday, which includes a guided tasting ($25).
Aggressive event planning: All of the Dahlonega wineries offer extra incentives to visit, not that you'd need much urging. Again, Montaluce is at the top of the class when it comes to add-ons. Check the upcoming events by clicking Montaluce.
Watch the video: Fox 5 did a preview of Montaluce several months ago. Take a video tour> Click