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Summer Sippin' Starts in June

Wine fests, beer fests, a new winery opening, a 'Deliverance' commemorative river fest and more as summer gets under way this month.

A new winery opens in Johns Creek, a mega Pinot wine tasting comes to Dunwoody, and two North Georgia wine festivals are among the highlights of this June’s wine, beer, and spirits events. Mark your calendars. Designate a driver.  A smorgasbord of activities awaits – everything from a commemorative festival for the movie “Deliverance” to a celebration of the California wines in “Bottle Shock.” There also are the Brookhaven Beer Festival, a “scary-etta" haunted pub crawl, and a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon tasting with wines priced at $100 and more, just to point to a few.

June 1 – Marietta’s First Friday Art Walk offers responsible drinkers wine and beers while they stroll along viewing works of 30 featured artists exhibiting at different stores and restaurants around the Downtown Historic Square and in the Artist’s Alley. Starting at 5 p.m., the Earl Smith Strand Theatre serves “Brews With A View” on the rooftop. From 6-9 p.m. the dk Gallery offers “a little wine” and an opportunity to meet the featured artist of the month. The Marietta Wine Market also serves up sample wines and complimentary hors d’oeuvres. These arts walks are annual events that take place on the first Friday of each month from April to December.

June 2 – Quench your thirst with free wine all day as Georgia’s newest winery has its Grand Opening from 1-5 p.m. Hightower Creek Vineyards at 7150 Canaan Drive off Hwy. 76, seven miles east of Hiawassee, offers sample sips of their seven wines. These are Chatuga Red, Chatuga White, Red Clay Rose and a premium wine blend named “Deliverance," which blends Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat, Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes. (Yes, it is named after the 1972 movie based on James Dickey’s novel.) The winery also produces Hightower Creek Trillium, Hightower Creek Cynthiana and Hightower Creek Tannat. Owners Liz and Sanford Green planted their six-acre vineyard in 2009. The tasting room has a two-level deck overlooking the mountains and trout ponds. It is open Wednesdays through Sundays. Chatuga, incidentally, is the original Indian spelling of Chattooga.

June 2 – The “Flashback” wine tasting at Niko’s Wine Corner on Crogan Street in Lawrenceville goes from 4-6 p.m. Saturday, and promises to “pull out a few fun wines to revisit” as a charity benefit for the Hi-Hope Service Center.  The wines offered are the customer’s top picks from earlier store tastings. They include The Other White, Donati Sorelle per Sempe Chardonnay, Donati Family Vineyards Claret, Franco Serra Barbrbera d’Alba, Don Ramon Red Wine, and others. This shop hosts very casual and diversified wine and beer tastings weekly. Owners are taking a break for the summer promising to resume wine tastings in September.

June 2-3 – The 11th Annual Georgia Wine Country Festival at The Three Sisters Vineyard near Dahlonega starts this weekend and continuing through each Saturday and Sunday in June. Exhibitors erect their displays on the lawns surrounding the tasting room. Guests listen to different bands each weekend, enjoy barbecue, Sweet Grass Dairy cheeses, local honey and more. There is no admission fee. No parking charges. Note, however, driving to Three Sisters Vineyards is not easy because GPS and computer mapping services do not show all local roads. Check the driving direction before embarking at www.threesistersvineyards.com.

June 5 – Newly opened , located at State Bridge and Medlock Bridge roads, hosts the first of what will become regular in-store wine tastings at 7 p.m. Washington State Winemaker Marty Clubb from L’Ecole No. 41 offers guests samples of their Walla Walla Valley and Columbia Valley Bordeaux varietals. Included are L’Ecole No. 41’s Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, an Estate Merlot, the “Apogee” Pepper Ridge Red, and a Semilion, explains David Metz, wine consultant and a store manager. Johns Creek Wine’s grand opening was May 24. The shop stocks over 850 wines along with 160 Champagnes and sparkling wines. They also sell fine crystal wine glasses and accessories. 

June 6 – At the Smyrna Market Village The Wine Cellars is scheduling a “20+ Wine Tasting” from 6:30-8 p.m. The wines offered cost over $20. Guests may taste the Moneflor Vielo Pinot Grigio from Italy, Anderson’s Conn Valley “Prologue,” Chardonnay, Amity Vineyards Willamette Pinot Noir, Csani Serise Red, Miura Vineyards Monteray Pinot Noir, and Tamarack Vineyard’s Firehouse Red, among others. And remember, this wine bar offers free tastings Saturday afternoons.

June 6 – “Get Screwed!” starts at 7 p.m. at the Wine Xplorer in Dunwoody Village. The program refers to the new screw top wine bottles. The Atlanta Wine Meet Up gathers weekly at this new wine shop. For the screw cap program, wine consultant Nance S. Donaldson is serving six wines while she discusses the pros and cons of these wine bottle closures. 

June 7 – Time to hoist your glasses high for The Pinot Project! It is another mega wine tasting hosted from 7-9 p.m. at D’Vine Wine Bar in Dunwoody. When the local chapter of the American Wine Society gathers, it is a not-to-be-missed wine tasting. The Pinot Project! offers upwards of 60+ Pinots – Pinot Noirs, Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigios, Pinot Blancs and a bunch more red, white, pink and sparkling wines, all either made principally with these grapes or blended with other vintages. Look for other Pinot grapes with names like Nero, Bianco, Auxerrois, Pinotage and Weiss/Grauburgunder. 

Historically, ancient Roman records show Pinot grapes were being crushed for wines in Burgundy, France, in 100 A.D. The Pinot lure continued over the centuries up into modern times. Miles and Jack had interesting adventures in the movie “Sideways” searching Napa for the perfect Pinot Noir. The wine tasting is open to the public, but there is an admission fee. Reservations may be made e-mailing donaredd@aol.com.

June 9-10 – The 12th Annual Georgia Fine Wine Festival takes place on the Town Creek Road grounds of the Blackstock Vineyards and Winery outside Dahlonega. Hours are noon-5 p.m. both days. The event is one of the two largest state wine festivals annually offering guests opportunities to sip and compare upwards of 60 different wines. Food will be served from local restaurant exhibitors. There is a petting zoo and arts and crafts. For individuals who have never attended a festival, the event offers an opportunity to taste and compare anywhere from six to fifteen wines all made from the same grape but grown in different soils in different locations. Think all Cabernet Sauvignons or all Seyval Blancs taste the same? No. Tastes vary considerably.  

June 9 – The Saturday wine tasting at  celebrates the movie “Bottle Shock” and features samplings of wines produced at the Chateau Montelena Winery in California. The program starts at 7:30 p.m. Guests may try Chateau Montelena’s premium Chardonnay, a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Zinfandel and a Sauvignon Blanc. The 2007 movie recounted the 1976 Paris wine competition where French judges picked Montelena’s Chardonnay as the top wine beating out their own White Burgundies. The event firmly established California as a world-class wine producer.

June 9 – Look for suds, swag, rock music and food at the Second Annual Brookhaven Beer Festival from 3-8 p.m in the outdoor area on Apple Valley Road at Fernwood Circle NE. Festival organizers promise over 150 beers, a mosh pit in front of the music stage and gourmet truck food fare. The Atlanta Fund- raising Foundation is the charity beneficiary. Best of all, the beer fest site is almost directly behind the Brookhaven/Oglethorpe MARTA Station. Guests need not drive to this beer festival. 

June 16 – How about spirits and spirits? The Haunted Pub Crawl in Marietta offers both beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tour guides dressed in black costumes escort groups of guest who walk around the Downtown City Square recounting “scary-etta” tales of historical hauntings and paranormal frights. Along the way, tour groups stop in La Familiga Italian Restaurant, Shillings, and McCrackens Irish Pub, according to Ian Huron, Ghost Tour manager at the Historic Marietta Trolley Office where the pub crawls begin.

June 19 – The Olde Blind Dog Irish Pub in Brookhaven, which opened in Apri, plans a Stone Brewing Company beer tasting Tuesday from 6-8 p.m. in their new store at 705 Town Boulevard. Escondito, CA-based Stone Brewing produces 58 beers, including Arrogant Bastard Beers. Beer enthusiasts may sample six of those 58 beers with appetizers for the admission price.  (Meanwhile, the original Olde Blind Dog in Milton plans a June tasting with Atlanta’s Red Brick Brewery. Check their websites.) 

June 21 – Salud! Harry’s Farmers Market in Roswell holds a wine tasting and education class from 6:30-8:30 p.m. that looks at Wines of The Rhone and Southern France. Tastings include Syrah’s from Hermitage and Cote Rotie,  Viognier and Marsanne blends, red, white and Rose wines from Chateauneuf-du-Pape along with vintages from Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence.  Reservations are required. 

June 22-24 – Think beer and wine, food and art, and "Dueling Banjos" at an all-day Bluegrass Music Festival and wrap it around the 40th Anniversary and Blue Ray re-release of the movie “Deliverance.” It is The Inaugural 2012 Chattooga River Festival. Events take place along the river between Clayton, GA, and the Chattooga Belle Farm in Long Creek, SC.

The program includes appearances by one of the movie stars, Ronny Cox, who played the Dueling Banjo duet with “Banjo Boy” Billy Redden, who lives in Clayton. Redden admitted he never played a banjo and “air banjoed” the film part. Cox, an actor and musician, still leads his Ronny Cox Band. They are featured performers at the opening concert Friday night. There are two showings of the movie – one Saturday in the Rabun County Civic Center and another Sunday evening at the Tiger Drive-In, a 1950-era outdoor theater in Tiger, GA. 

Other highlights include an all day Bluegrass Music Concert at the Chattooga Belle Farm in Long Creek where a festival village offers local arts, crafts, food, and family activities celebrating the heritage and culture of the river environment. A boat race is scheduled. Whitewater canoe club members plan to canoe the Chattooga and remove trash.

Friday from 4-6:30 p.m., an artists reception starts in the Timpson Creek Gallery. Called “Deliverance, Redemption, Salvation,” it is a juried show that will continue for a month. The gallery in on Hwy. 76 West of Clayton.

On Saturday from 3-5 p.m., Ronny Cox will be at Timpson Creek Gallery autographing his book “The Deliverance of Drew.”  Drew, remember, was his character’s name in the movie. Cox almost drowned in the Chattooga rapids during filming.

A VIP Reception Saturday night in the Rabun County Civic Center will have Cox present along with local residents who were hired as actors for the movie, including Bill Redden. At 7:45 p.m. in the Civic Center the Warner Brothers 40th Anniversary “Deliverance” movie premier begins. At the art exhibit opening, the book signing, and the VIP reception, organizers say guests may sample over a dozen wines made by Georgia wineries and enjoy New Belgium Beers.

There are overlapping activities each of the three days. Visitors are urged to review the website at www.chattogariverfestival.com and the Facebook links for up-to-the-minute schedules. Film studio Warner Brothers is considering sending actors Burt Reynolds and John Voigt to the festival.

June 23 – A French Wine Dinner will be served in the newly restored Red Barn Cafe at Tiger Mountain Vineyards near Clayton starting at 6 p.m. Rob Rotunno, chef and owner of Dahlonega’s Corkscrew Café, is pairing the winery’s French-style vintages with French Laundry-style hors d’oeuvres, a three-course gourmet meal, and his signature Apple Ginger Bread Pudding dessert with a late harvest Petit Manseng. Seating is limited, and the last wine dinners at Tiger quickly sold out. The dinner costs $75 a person. Advance pre-paid reservations may be made at the Tasting Room or by calling 706-782-4777. The cafe is located in a restored 75-year-old dairy barn and is open on Saturdays and Sundays with live music from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

June 28 – It will be “A Brewers Night” in downtown Duluth when the local growler shop The Best of Brews  hosts a beer tasting from 4-7 p.m. with beers from Atlanta’s Red Brick Brewing Company. Best of Brews Owner Greg Lindquist is scheduling the event next door in the New Dawn Theater. There is no admission. Guests merely pay for the sample glasses of beer, including brews such as Wee Heavy Porter, Imperial IPA, Dog Days Ale, and Laughing Skull, the amber ale the brewery initially made and exclusively sold at The Vortex in Atlanta.

June 28 – Drive to Madison and join in the “Wine & Whisker” fundraiser from 6-8 p.m. at The Brady Inn. The Morgan County Humane Society is offering six wines to taste, hor d’oeuvres, and special treats for four-legged friends. The $20 donation supports the society’s pet rescue and adoptions. The invitation specifically says attendance is “with or without pets.” 

June 29 – China Grove, a Doobie Brothers Tribute Band, headlines The Glover Park Concert Series from 8-10 p.m. in Marietta. This free concert offers country fried rock, beer, and wines. Beverages are allowed on a “bring your own” basis, according to the Marietta Parks and Recreation, concert series sponsors. In addition to BYOB, you can bring your own picnic baskets of food, blankets and folding chairs. Tables are not permitted. Restaurants located around and close to the Downtown City Square are offering beverage and dinner menu specials both before and after the concert.

June 30 – An Italian wine tasting at Le Caveau Fine Wines from 5-8 p.m. offers what is called a Vintage Vertical Tasting of the Quintarelli Rosso Ca del Merlot Italian wines. Seating is limited, so it is reservations only in this shop off Peachtree Road. Ca del Merlo is a single vineyard Valpolicella. All of the wines grew on grapes in the same vineyard but in different years. However, yearly climate changes like temperature and rainfall fluctuation affect the wines' taste.  This event will compare the Giuseppe Quintarelli’s eight vintages for the years 1986-2002.

June 30 – Want to try and make your own wine? The Chateau Elan Winery & Resort in Braselton offers a daylong opportunity to learn the basics of blending wines and creating your own personalized vintage. “Wanna Be A Winemaker?” includes a tour of the Chateau Elan winery after which guests sit down and begin mixing and blending wines under the helpful guidance of the Chateau’s winemakers. This program also offers an overnight package and meals for two.

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