Monday, October 15, 2012

Three Sisters Vineyards, Dahlonega, GA: Local Loving

Three Sisters Vineyards in Dahlonega, GA, was Lumpkin County's first licenced vineyard. The 180-acre estate has over 13,000 wine grape vines from European varietals to an American native varietal called Vitus aestinvalis (also known as Norton). Three Sisters embraces the idea of sourcing local by only using juice from their estate grown grapes.
Drive leading to Three Sisters Vineyard and Winery,
Dahlonega, GA
It was an unusually hot day, temperatures touching 100 degrees, when my husband and I visited the vineyard. We drove down a steep, red-gravel, drive through rows of lush grape vines. At the bottom of the hill there was a dusty parking lot and several buildings surrounding a small lake.

The heat slapped us hard as we emerged from the cocoon of our car. Sweat blurred our vision as we ran to the safety of the cool-aired tasting room.

Tasting room at Three Sisters Vineyard and Winery,
Dahlonega, GA
Inside we bought a $15 Vintner's Tasting Tour which gave us a choice of six wines and a souvenir glass. We chose wines from the dry list. Half way through our tasting we met Mr Doug Paul, family member and part owner of the Three Sisters Vineyard.

When he found out I was a food journalist he asked, "Why don't more Georgia restaurants carry Georgia wines?"

"I don't know", I said, "I get asked this question a lot. In Florida, we have some really good dry wines but no restaurants serve them. I think it's something to do with distribution problems and chefs unfamiliar with the wines."

Paul said he had taken his wines to Atlanta restaurants but could find no takers. He said there were some restaurants in Dahlonega that served his wines. As he talked he poured more than the six wines we had paid for.

Our favorites were 2007 Vidal Blanc (made with French-American hybrid grapes), 2006 Cabernet Franc, and 2007 Cynthiana (made with American native Vitus aestinvalis grapes).

The Cabernet Franc was deliciously complex. Aged in French and American oak barrels, this wine smelled slightly of Gardenias. It tasted of dark berries mixed with pepper and had a surprisingly creamy green-coconut finish.

The Cynthiana, aged in French and American oak, was delightfully full bodied and rich with just the right level of tannin at the end.

The Vidal Blanc, made with French-hybrid grapes, had a delicious oak nose and flavor. It ended clean with a crisp green-apple finish.

We had one blended wine called Fat Boy Red, made with Cynthiana, Cabernet, and Merlot. It had a sweet flavor at the beginning of the sip followed by a rich brown-sugar taste. It finished with strong tannin characteristics. This would be a good wintertime drinking wine.

I don't know why there were no takers in Atlanta for the wines from Three Sisters Vineyard. From what I tasted there were some really remarkable wines in the collection.

To find out more about Three Sisters Vineyards you can visit them in person, Thursday to Sunday, at 439 Vineyard Way, Dahlonega, GA, 30533,   phone: 706-865-9463

Or go to their website at

1 comment:

  1. This was fun finding your blog note on Three Sisters Winery. Doug Paul most probably features Georgia's finest Norton [Cyntiana] wine. To date there are 264 Norton grape wineries in 27 Southeastern and mid-western states. Georgia has eight of these wineries with the possibility of two more coming onboard in the coming years (Boutier Winery, Castell Family Vineyard, Cavender Creek Vineyard, Crane Creek Vineyards, Frogtown Cellars, Hightower Creek Vineyard, Three Sisters Vineyards, and Tiger Mountain Vineyards). Let me encourage you to read Todd Kliman's book, The Wild Vine, to learn more about this fascinating grape and its history.