Category Archives: Scenic Drive

First AVA Designation in Georgia

Locals have known for a while, but now it’s official. There is great wine coming out of North Georgia.

After four years of paperwork, petitions, and substantial evidence that Western North Carolina and Northeast Georgia has a unique natural boundary and growing conditions unlike any other neighboring region, an American Viticultural Area (AVA) known as Upper Hiwassee Highlands was designated to our region.

This prestigious designation includes parts of Clay County and Cherokee County in North Carolina and Towns and Union Counties in Georgia. The Upper Hiwassee Watershed acts perfectly as the natural boundary for the eight wineries that fall into the Upper Hiwassee Highlands AVA.

An American Viticultural Area designation is not an easy process and they are not freely given out. Regulations require only wine that derives 85% or more of their content inside the boundaries of a designated AVA can use the AVA name.

The majority of AVAs are located in California with notorious names like Napa Valley and Sonoma. The Upper Hiwassee Highlands region makes the fourth designation for North Carolina and the first ever for Georgia!

So, what does this mean to the wineries?

It means that each vineyard in the Upper Hiwassee Highlands has a way to point vintners and consumers to a special characteristic or overall quality of grapes grown in the region.  

Additionally, they have permission to use a tag on their label called an appellation of origin, which proudly states the wine was made in the Upper Hiwassee Highlands region. Having the AVA designation assures wine enthusiasts of a product’s quality and characteristics.

So, take a ride around and get to know the wines of your region. Most vineyards offer tastings and typically have music or other fun events as you sniff, sample, and enjoy each unique vintage. Paradise Hills Farm Winery also has a resort and spa onsite, perfect for a North Georgia getaway.  

For a full listing of wineries or other activities in Union County and the North Georgia Mountains please go to www.VisitBlairsvilleGa.com.

Vineyards included in the Upper Hiwassee Highlands region:
Clay County Eagle Fork Vineyard
Cherokee County Calaboose Cellars, Valley River Vineyards, Nottlely River Valley Vineyards
Towns County Crane Creek Vineyards, Hightower Creek Vineyards
Union County Paradise Hills Farm Winery, Odom Springs Vineyards

Fun Family Activities in Blairsville

When you hear the phrase “family fun”, what comes to mind may be the stress, long days, and lots of money. But that doesn’t have to be the case! Blairsville has activities for all ages that are free and don’t require detailed scheduling. We’ve compiled five free activities so you can spend less time thinking about time and money, and more time enjoying the beautiful North Georgia mountains with your family!

Outside adventure: Picnic and a hike
When planning a trip to North Georgia, take some time to enjoy all the picturesque nature sites. There are so many free activities waiting for you just outside your door. Helton Creek Falls is south of Blairsville off of Hwy 19/129. This hike is only 0.6 miles long, perfect for kids of any age. Be sure to pack a lunch because the falls offer a great site for a picnic. See more options at our spring hikes guide [insert link to spring hikes guide blog when available].

Learn something new: Alpaca Farms
Spend an afternoon getting to know an animal not common to North Georgia, Alpacas. At the Lasso the Moon Alpaca Farm or Jerae’s Unity Alpacas you can do just that. Be sure to stop by the gift stores for a selection of handcrafted jewelry and products made from Alpaca fiber. Entrance is free to both farms, but donations are welcomed. For both locations, please call or email ahead to make an appointment.

Treasure hunt: Geocaching
Geocaching has become an international pastime for family fun. Using a GPS device, enter in coordinates and follow the clues to a hidden cache. This is a fun way to get to know a new area, or appreciate all that your own neighborhood has to offer. There are plenty of Geocaches to discover in Blairsville, including one that takes you in and around the Union County Public Library.

Relax on the water: Lake trip
Lake Nottely offers a breathtaking alpine experience for residents and visitors just northwest of Blairsville. Or stay on shore and have a picnic at one of the parks surrounding the lake. Another option is Lake Winfield Scott which offers hiking, swimming, boating, and camping year round.

Fun times at the festival
In a tight community like Blairsville, there are festivals all year round where you can enjoy local crafters, fair food, and activities for the whole family (though not everything at these festivals is free). Check out our Festivals page for more information on upcoming festivals.

 

Engage Your Senses This Fall

Fall DriveAutumn is my favorite season of the year. There are so many wonderful, fun, exciting ways to engage your five senses right here in Union County and enjoy experiences of which city folk can only dream! Here are a few of my suggestions for great autumn activities.

See – Take a ride along any of our scenic byways or mountain roads and delight in the explosion of autumn color – Richard Russell, GA 180, and US 129 South are a few of my favorites. This is a great time of year to make your way to the top of Brasstown Bald and see unmatched natural beauty. Finally, everyone will be able to enjoy the many scarecrows around town as part of our Scarecrow-Ville event.

Touch – Why not take a trip to an alpaca farm and pet these lovable creatures?   You’ll find a great selection of alpaca fiber clothing and accessories to keep you warm as the temperature drops.

Taste – This will be your last chance to pick up fresh, local produce at the Union County Farmers Market to make your own perfect autumn meal. Contact the Chamber for a list of old time general stores where you’ll find the perfect ingredients to complete your recipe.   Or if you are like me and prefer someone else do the cooking, try one of our many delicious restaurants including our newest Farm To Table restaurant, The Sawmill Place. Stock up on Sorghum Syrup to enhance your morning biscuit or make your way to our local winery or craft beer shop for a sip of the season.

Smell – Stop by a local retailer and pick up your favorite scented candle. The smell of apple or pumpkin pie will lift your mood. Step foot into one of our local bakeries and inhale autumn yumminess!

Hear – This is a great time for music in the mountains. Visit one of our many upcoming festivals – the Indian Summer Festival in Suches, the Sorghum Festival at Meeks Park, and the Fall Hoedown at Vogel State Park. There are concerts each Friday night at the Historic Courthouse on the square or check out our online events calendar for local music events around town.

Be sure to pick up a copy of the North Georgia Farm Trail guide in the Chamber of Commerce/Welcome Center and explore all of the agritourism sites in the area. This is the perfect time of year to get up, get out, and get happy!

For additional shopping, dining, lodging, and attraction information, contact the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce at 706-745-5789, online at wwwVisitBlairsvilleGA.com, or me directly at President@BlairsvilleChamber.com.

Engage Your Senses This Fall

Observation Deck of Brasstown Bald in the fall

Observation Deck of Brasstown Bald in the fall

Autumn is my favorite season of the year. There are so many wonderful, fun, exciting ways to engage your five senses right here in Union County and enjoy experiences of which city folk can only dream! Here are a few of my suggestions for great autumn activities.

See – Take a ride along any of our scenic byways or mountain roads and delight in the explosion of autumn color – Richard Russell, GA 180, and US 129 South are a few of my favorites. This is a great time of year to make your way to the top of Brasstown Bald and see unmatched natural beauty. Finally, everyone will be able to enjoy the many scarecrows around town as part of our Scarecrow-Ville event.

Touch – Why not take a trip to an alpaca farm and pet these lovable creatures?   You’ll find a great selection of alpaca fiber clothing and accessories to keep you warm as the temperature drops. How about Southern Tree Plantation with their petting zoo and pumpkin patch?

Taste – This will be your last chance to pick up fresh, local produce at the Union County Farmers Market to make your own perfect autumn meal. Contact the Chamber for a list of old time general stores where you’ll find the perfect ingredients to complete your recipe.   Or if you are like me and prefer someone else do the cooking, try one of our many delicious restaurants including our newest Farm To Table restaurant, The Sawmill Place. Stock up on Sorghum Syrup to enhance your morning biscuit or make your way to our local winery or craft beer shop for a sip of the season.

Smell – Stop by a local retailer and pick up your favorite scented candle. The smell of apple or pumpkin pie will lift your mood. Step foot into one of our local bakeries and inhale autumn yumminess!

Hear – This is a great time for music in the mountains. Visit one of our many upcoming festivals – the Indian Summer Festival in Suches, the Sorghum Festival at Meeks Park, and the Fall Hoedown at Vogel State Park. There are concerts each Friday night at the Historic Courthouse on the square or check out our online events calendar for local music events around town.

Be sure to pick up a copy of the North Georgia Farm Trail guide in the Chamber of Commerce/Welcome Center and explore all of the agritourism sites in the area. This is the perfect time of year to get up, get out, and get happy!

For additional shopping, dining, lodging, and attraction information, contact the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce at 706-745-5789, online at wwwVisitBlairsvilleGA.com, or me directly at President@BlairsvilleChamber.com.