Our columnists get a taste of Wolf Mountain and Accent Cellars in North Georgia (Part I is here.)
Last month, we hopped aboard The Vino Van with Billie Harris and headed north to explore North Georgia wine country. We paid a visit to Yonah Mountain Vineyards, but our trip wasn’t finished there.
Wolf Mountain Vineyards
The next stop was Wolf Mountain (wolfmountainvineyards.com) in Dahlonga, a winery established in 1999 with the first vines planted by hand in 2000 by E. Karl Boegner, who was in the hospitality industry for over 40 years, including the opening team of Chateau Elan. This experience drove him to want to build a winery from the ground up.
The location was chosen due to the high elevation and southwestern facing slopes. An innovative winery was built that covers 10,000 square feet and is gravity fed. The first vintage was 2001 and completely made from sourced fruit from Frogtown, a neighboring winery who had yet to complete their winemaking facilities. The two teamed up to produce their own first vintages in 2002.
To this day, Wolf Mountain continues to source their white grapes from Frogtown. The whole family has a part in the winery with Karl at the winemaking helm, his wife Linda helping with special events, and their two children helped establish the project. Son Brannon assists with winemaking and vineyard management, while daughter Lindsay works on the hospitality side as general manager of the onsite restaurant and event facilities.
At Wolf Mountain, nearly every wine they make is a blend of multiple varietals. “We get loads of rain, hurricanes in the fall during harvest as well as late spring freezes that can do a number on the vines,” Lindsay says of the difficulties of farming in the state.
Blending gives them the flexibility that if one year a certain varietal doesn’t grow the best, they can blend in another. European styled wine is the goal, but what really makes Wolf Mountain truly unique is their sparkling wine. The family is obsessed with bubbles, so they naturally were inclined to try. All their sparkling wines are made with the traditional method like Champagne. Chardonnay for the sparkling is picked early at Frogtown and the style is always at Brut level.
The restaurant is a must when visiting the area, especially Sunday brunch. They also offer pizzas and charcuterie on the wrap-around porch that you can pair with the multiple flight options. Weddings and special events are a significant part of the winery function. The wedding pavilion has a breathtaking view of the mountains and the property even has a small cottage available for club members and weddings.
Wine Highlight: NV Brut Rosé Sparkling – dosage with claret to give a beautiful salmon pink color. 150 cases produced. The wine is zesty, complex with strawberry notes.
Our final visit was Accent Cellars (accentcellars.com) in Dahlonega, which is owned by Tristen Vanhoff from Yonah Mountain and Tyler Barnes who worked at Montaluce Winery.
The winery was founded in 2014 with an original idea to be a custom crush facility for hotels, restaurants and distributors that wanted to produce their own wines. Unfortunately, under Georgia law it was illegal, so the plan changed, and Accent Cellars was born, simultaneously opening their tasting room and releasing their first vintage in 2017.
The evening was spent tasting every wine they produce with founder Tyler and tasting room host Erika Leigh Moore. Although there is no farming on site, their winemaking philosophy is to be as hands-off as possible. Forty percent of their fruit comes from North Georgia but the remaining comes from California or Washington. All of their wines are labeled American wines due to the number of grapes they source, which is a testament to the struggles of consistent farming of local grapes.
Not only were the wines great (including the Chenin Blanc, Grenache, and their best-selling ‘Underdog’ made from Georgia native Chambourcin), the atmosphere and energy of the tasting room was comfortable, inviting, and featured artwork from Tristan’s wife Katie.
Tyler noted that “having a high level of service, a great place to hang out, and a great personality is why we are here. It is all about the personal touch. It is at least or more important than what we are making.”
And he is right.
A guitar player was playing on their covered porch and winery dog Strauss was milling around. Erica said, “we just want to make wine comfortable without a pretentious attitude.” We all agree they nailed it.
Accent Cellars Insider is made from six different varietals of apples from Mercier Orchards. It’s fortified apple cider essentially made in a similar style to sparkling wines – aged on the lees but with no disgorgement and really naturally done. Deliciously refreshing, dry and crisp with tons of green apple flavors.