Travel: Dahlonega, GA


By Bradley Robertson

Last week, we celebrated my husband’s 40th birthday. When he turned 30, I threw him a big party with family and friends and a Johnny Cash tribute band. It was a blast. However, this year he requested no party.
My husband, Isaac, also known as “The Farmer” and sometimes even George, is a man who prefers the backroads of life. He loves a fun occasion but would rather grill chickens in the backyard with his kids and have the five of us seated at his dinner table.
Besides country roads, Isaac loves fine wine. Many folks find this odd for a bonafide countryman, but it’s true. If I bring home a bottle of Pinot Noir to go with his home cooked meatloaf at night, he is tickled to pieces and happy as a clam.
To celebrate this special birthday, I rented us a house in Dahlonega, Georgia and decided to take him on a Georgia wine tour. Backroads, wine and just the two of us. He was smitten and off we went to adventure together.
I’m a fall girl – the leaves and mountains of Georgia is what first brought the idea to my attention. I also wanted something calm and low-key to relax our souls from the busy days we live. A sweet escape for us both, close to home and something new and inviting.
My first step was to find the perfect hide-away. I reviewed houses and lodging for weeks online till I stumbled upon a darling little cottage I found on VRBO. Old Bear Lodge. I read excellent comments and contacted the homeowner. It was a match for our dates and our budget.
We pulled up to a tiny, sweet cottage at the end of a dirt road greeted by a black lab. “Look Honey, we even have a friendly dog to show us the way,” my husband said. We both chuckled and among tall trees of red, gold and brown we walked up to our little house in the woods.
Old Bear Lodge is owned by an Atlanta realtor. It’s the perfect home for a couple, one bedroom, one nice bath, a small kitchen and adjoining living room with a gas fireplace. The interior was all white with shiplap galore, warm leather furniture and wood panel ceilings. We quickly found a small juke box and pressed play to find Willie Nelson on deck.
Can you think of anyone better to play you a tune in the colorful mountains of Georgia than Willie Nelson? Time stood still. We danced cheek to cheek, knowing what a blessing and gift it is to have each other. We soon headed out the back door to find a large screen porch overlooking the woods. It held a lovely sitting space and opened to a porch.
We ventured out the back and could hear rushing water in the distance. We found luscious trials and paths, colorful trees reaching tall and covering the earth in all directions. Splashes of fall color all around us from sky to ground.
We found a rushing river with canopies of trees seen near and far. Beside the river stood an old red barn, set perfect with a pair of white Adirondack chairs in view. It was a beautiful scene like something out of a movie.
We stood still for a bit, taking in the glory of the view. We were only three hours from home, yet we felt like we were in a whole, other world. Wind blowing and leaves falling all around us. It was spectacular. I love it when we get to stop and see the wonders of our world. So often we just pass on by the beauty around us. We have to stop, open our eyes and see, or all of it will just pass us by.
Before long we traveled back up the hill to set off for our first wine tasting, Kaya Vineyards and Winery.
We made this stop on Sunday afternoon, eager to taste their wine and eat from their Bistro style menu.
We pulled up to a farm-style lodge atop acres and acres of green grape vines, set neatly in rows. Once inside, the warm feel of the lodge caught our attention, and we soon were sipping our first glass of red wine.
We learned you order a tasting in a “flight.” We had a choice of which “flight” we preferred: sweet wines, more red wines or a mix. We chose the red wine flight which included a free Port tasting at the end.
We tasted and laughed and shared and soon found our favorite one. We ordered a glass each and took our party outside for food.
We sat down to a cheese tray, a turkey panini with pasta salad and perfect burger for the Farmer. The porch setting was filled with music from a local guitarist, people galore laughing and enjoying afternoon friends.
We toasted to 40 years of Isaac Robertson. Forty years of life. We forget to stop and think, of the gift we are given each day. This day we savored and celebrated. The gift of each other and time to see it clearly.
The following day we took the wine and food route again to Monteluce Vineyards. This place was exquisite. I have never been to Italy, but the Tuscan beauty of this magnificent place gave me all the Italian feels.
The estate went on forever and we finally arrived at what looked like a large Italian chateau.
We entered into a great room lined with hundreds of bottles of wine made on site. It was Monday mid-day, not very busy, made perfect for us.
We were served our flight by an adorable young woman, chatty and knowledgeable of all the details. She was a delight and knew everything there was to know about Monteluce wine.
This was my favorite atmosphere of all the three wineries we visited. Grand and lovely but relaxing and calm. The wine was delicious, all of it. We took a few tastings to the back veranda overlooking the vineyard. You could see grape vines far into the distance, perfectly in rows and a deep pond sat beneath the hill.
We soon seated into the dining room, a refined menu of café style food with a European elegance added into the mix. We ordered a Chef’s special as an appetizer. Potato ravioli with a bacon cream sauce. It melted in our mouths and paired perfectly with our wine.
I ordered a fall salad with cranberries, grilled chicken and bacon. Isaac ordered their simple house specialty of grilled cheese on homemade sourdough bread with a side of tomato bisque.
We gobbled it all up in delight, feeling as though we stepped into a book. Our own fairy tale of southern charm and romance. I will choose to go back here 100 times if I could. If there is but one place to enjoy in Dahlonega, it is Monteluce.
Isaac and I first visited this vineyard soon after we married in 2005. Pulling into the driveway brought back memories of young hearts and easy days.
This is a smaller-style vineyard than Kaya or Monteluce but the wine is fantastic. The tasting room was donned with dark wood with large upper beams and ceilings. The back side was all glass windows and doors opening up to their veranda.
The gentleman serving our flight was quite charming and comical. You could tell he had worked here a while by the love for the wine he was serving.
It was bold and tasty, light and clean. This was Isaac’s favorite wine of the entire trip. We laughed and talked of how much we had changed since our first visit over 10 years earlier.
Doesn’t 10 years go by so fast? You think it is so slow but when you look back you see it went to soon.
There is so much reward from adventuring together with your loved one. Time to escape and hang out and simply be friends again.
Where are you wanting to travel to with your loved one? It doesn’t have to be fancy or even far away, it’s just the joy of being together and seeing life new again.
Robertson is a local mother, wife and creative. She’s an Auburn University graduate, loves good food and getting outside with her family. Bradley enjoys feature writing, as well as Southern culture and lifestyle writing.


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