Starting with the July 4th weekend’s Red, White & Blue Pub Crawl and two holiday parties featuring barbecue, beer, bluegrass and wine, this month's calendar of wine, beer, and spirits tastings offer opportunities to sample a little of everything.
Brew Master Bobo, a Catholic monk from Belgium, comes to town. There's a Sour Beer festival and a Christmas in July party as well as an “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” and the “Wine Wars." Also planned are a beer dinner in an authentic English-style cask ale pub along with three super wine tastings set for July 21, July 26 and July 27.
Foodies everywhere are licking their lips for the start of Downtown Atlanta Restaurant Week. There is a local celebration of the Spanish running of the bulls.
July 1 – Take a quick drive north to Wolf Mountain Vineyards in Dahlonega for the 9th Annual Reds, Whites & Bluegrass Brunch for a sumptuous repast of southern regional cuisine at the Vineyard Cafe. There will be ample servings of Wolf Mountain’s many award-winning wines as the Packway Handle Band musicians pick their banjos and strum guitars. Reserve either the first or second seating, starting at 12:30 p.m. Since opening in 2003, the vineyard has won over 100 wine competitions for it’s French-style red and white blended wines. Wolf Mountain was the first Georgia winery to create true French methode champenoise sparkling wines.
July 1-6 – The metro area’s newest Growler Bar, Moondog Growlers in Dunwoody, is serving up sample sips of the 40 domestic craft-brewed and imported beers they sell on tap from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. each Monday through Saturday beginning this week and every week afterwards. Employees say they are the only metro-area growler bar allowed to serve sample brews on premises. They point out that “Moondog is not a bar.” There are no big-screen televisions, tables, chairs, booths, or other beverages. Guests may sample one beer for $1 or three for $2.50. Then you buy either a 32- or a 64-ounce refillable container to take home and use again a for the next suds fill-up. Located at 5064 Nadina Lane, across from the Dunwoody Farmhouse, Moondog opened June 8.
July 3 – Put on your patriotic party hat. The Red, White & Brew Pub Crawl goes from 7-11 p.m. The party starts at the Buckhead Saloon at 3227 Roswell Road. For $20, guests start their crawl at the Buckhead Saloon, go to Stagecoach, Hangovers, and the Dive Bar, ending with a post party at the Lost Dog Tavern. Sponsors include Svedka Vodka. Guests get a free drink at each bar and enjoy DJ music.
July 3 – A “BBQ & Beer” dinner takes place from 5:30-11 p.m. at the Woodfire Grill on Cheshire Bridge Road in Atlanta. The special beer is an individually made cask brew created for Independence Day at Atlanta’s Sweetwater Brewery. For $38 guests get the beer and a three-course barbecue dinner, complete with dessert, Brunswick stew and corn bread. Reservations must be phoned to 404-347-9005. Seating is limited.
July 4 – The Tiger Mountain Winery whipped up a special barbecue “Slider Sauce” made from their Norton wine for a Holiday Slider Party at the winery’s tasting room south of Clayton. The event runs from 1-4 p.m., costs $10 each, offers guests opportunities to sample all Tiger Mountain wine varieties while munching on sliders, watermelons and snacks.
July 6 – An interesting blind tasting of Pinot Noir wines goes from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at the Salud! Cooking School in Harry’s Whole Foods Market in Alpharetta. It offers a great chance to sip Pinots without knowing who made them and where. Identities will be revealed at the conclusion. The $15 admission is a bargain price for finding your perfect Pinot. The wines are produced in Oregon, Washington State, Italy, Alsace, California, France, Austria, and New Zealand. Register to attend.
July 7 – The Beverage Super Store in Suwanee is featuring a summertime Rose' Tasting between 12:30-3 p.m. Offered will be 6-7 domestic and foreign-produced vintages, including the Leverano Rose from Italy, and Chateau Roustan Costieres de Nimes from France. For $3 admission guests may samples wines, cheeses and crackers. Light pink Rose's, which are served chilled, are most popular during warm weather months. Rose's flavor profiles range from sweet to fruity to dry and pair well with many foods. This store hosts tastings each Saturday.
July 7 – Vino 100 on the corner of Main Street and Old Milton Parkway in Alpharetta is hosting a French wine tasting from 4:30-6:30 p.m., benefitting the local Children’s Miracle Network charity. The five featured wines are the 2009 Chateau Joinin Bordeaux, two Cotes-du-Rhone -- Parallel 45 and Elicio, a Merlot/Grenache blend -- and the Chateau Cantelaudette White Bordeaux. A White Burgundy is the fifth wine. A total of $5 from every $10 admission ticket will be donated to the local Miracle Network chapter. Vino 100 Saturday tastings July 14 and July 21 feature all California and all South African wine line-ups and benefit the Alexsander Academy in Alpharetta.
July 9 – Belgium’s Chimay Beer and a Chimay cheese, all produced in the Trappist Abbey Notre Dame de Scourmont, are on tap for sampling at Little Five Point’s Porter Beer Bar from 6 p.m. to midnight, Monday. Father Bobo, Chimay’s brew master, will serve glasses of Chimay Blanc (on tap) and bottles of Chimay Rouge and Chimay Bleu, each paired with the semi-soft Le Chimay a la Biere Cheese. The monastery, founded in 1863, makes six cheeses. The rind on this was washed in beer as it aged. Chimay beers also taste better as they age. Older Chimays will be offered for comparisons. Reservations are requested.
July 10 – Join metro wine lovers at Inman Park’s Barcelona Atlanta Wine Bar & Restaurant for a celebration of the famous Spanish Fiesta de San Germin beginning Tuesday at 7 p.m. In Navarrra the Fiesta de San Germin is famous for the running of the bulls. No one will be trampled at this walk-around tasting of seven wines from many Spanish wine regions. There will be tapas to sample along with gourmet cheeses and breads and a sumptuous Paella Grande. Gran Sarao Cava, a sparkling wine from Penedes should start the tasting. A few of the other vintages include “Mas Amor” Garnacha Rose' from Catalayud, El Hada, a white wine Viura/Verdejo blend from Rueda, Bin de Vino Garnacha from Carinena, and Terraprima Cabernet Franc from Penedes. Reservations suggested.
July 10 – Get your grill on. “Wines For BBQ & Grilling” is the name of a food and wine class beginning at 7 p.m. in The Wine Xplorer, located in the Dunwoody Plaza Shopping Center off Chamblee-Dunwoody Road. Certified Specialist of Wine Debbie Jones will explain the how to pick that perfect grilling wine and lead a tasting of six wines with barbecue. They include a Spanish Tempranillo and a Garnacha/Cabernet Rose,' an Australian Pinot Noir and a Cabernet Sauvignon, an Argentine Malbec, and a California Zinfandel. Reservations required.
July 10 & July 14 – Try the same wines twice. D’Vine Wine Bar in the Shoppes of Dunwoody hosts a double tasting. The July 10 event begins at 6:45 p.m. On Saturday, July 14, it begins at 4 p.m. Open to the public, both feature the same seven red and white wines offered by distributor Prime Wine & Spirits. For $25 each guest may sip and sample four reds, two white wines plus the French Chameroy Rose' Brut Champagne. The other six varieties include the Chateau Luchey Bordeaux Red; two wines from Napa’s JAM Cellars, the Butter Chardonnay and JAM Red Blend, a Petite Sirah mix.
July 11 and July 18 – The Park Café Restaurant & Wine Market on West Lawrenceville Street in Duluth is scheduling wine tastings from 5-9 p.m. both days. Representatives from Global Distributing Company and Atlanta Wholesale Wine, respectively, will be tableside to present four different red and white wines each night. Park Café regularly hosts Wednesday wine tastings allowing customers to “taste something different…wines they normally would not try,” said Manager Aaron Bridgman. “Customers appreciate having wine experts come and talk about the wines.” RSVPS are recommended.
July 13 – Get ready for a great opportunity to compare upwards of 20 red and white wines during the seven-week “Wine Wars” at the Vineyard Wine Market on Powers Ferry Road north of The Galleria in Cobb. For the past four years these “Wine Wars” matches four wines from one country against four wines from another. Guests sample in a bind tasting and vote on the varieties enjoyed most. Winners are named at the conclusion of the evenings. From 7-9 p.m. each Friday, wines from Italy will compete against wines from Australia and New Zealand. July 20 matches Spanish wines against American vintages. July 27 sees France competing against Argentine wines. In August there will be three more tastings, including semi-finals and finals, in the Vineyard Market’s V2 Tasting Room. Guests may pay admission each night or purchase discounted series tickets.
July 14 – Drink wine. Support small businesses! Habersham Vineyards & Winery in Helen has begun a once monthly Nachoochee Village Country Market. On this day from noon-6 p.m., merchants, farmers and crafts people will gather on the lawn and parking lot in front of the winery and antique store. The market offers “high traffic” sales location for this and the upcoming Saturdays of Aug. 11, Sept. 8 and Oct. 13. A few steps away, Habersham’s wine tasting room and gift shop are open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
July 14 – The Marietta Wine Market scheduled two key California wine tastings from 2- 4 p.m. Saturday, July 14, and next Wednesday, July 18. The Livermore wines from long-time vintner Wente Vineyards are for today. Wente Winery, founded 125 years ago, offers wines under their Wente label, Murietta’s Well, and the TaMAS Estates brand. Murietta’s Well wines, The Spur and The Whip, separate red and white blends, are going to be presented along with Wente’s Riva Ranch Chardonnay, the Charles Wetmore Cabernet Sauvignon, Wente’s Sandstone Merlot and their varietal Sauvignon Blanc. A charity donation is required for admission.
July 14 – The 3rd Annual Funky Fest in Athens starts at 4 p.m. Friday and continues to 2 a.m. Sunday, at Aromas Wine Bar. A selection of Sour Beers are offered by the glass. Sour Beers, also called wild ales, are made with strains of yeast that impart tart flavors, says Beer Monster Charles Meers at the Five Points Bottle Shop in Athens. (The same company owns Aromas. Beer Monster is his job title.) Sour Beers are “a fast growing segment of the craft beer market,” Meers explains. Funky Fest will serve Wheat Ales, Pilsners, imported and domestically produced Lambics and Berliner Weiss.
July 15 – In the United States there are only three authentic English-style Cask Ale breweries. One is in Griffin, others in California and New Jersey. Unlike local brewpubs and craft micro breweries where beers get their “fizz” through a forced gas carbonation process bottling, Cask Ale breweries cold-ferment their brews in small individual barrels where aging allows carbonation to naturally develop. This process creates an extensive depth of flavors in soft, easy-to-drink, low alcohol draft beers, like the six house brews at the newly opened Eagle & Lion Brew Pub at 410 East Taylor St. This street is the east-west Ga. Hwy. 16 route through downtown Griffin.
VIN, The Griffin Wine Tasting Society, hosts an open-to-the-public Beer Dinner beginning at 5 p.m. Sunday. Eagle & Lion Owner Mark Broe will conduct guests through the microbrewery and lead a tasting of his stout and ales, and IPAs that are named Golden Eagle, Brass Monkey, East Griffin Stout, Yes Face IPA, Tipsy Toad, and South of Taylor Special. The $25 admission includes a buffet dinner. Advance reservations must go to email@example.com. The Eagle & Lion Brew Pub opened in March, offers lunches and dinners Tuesdays-Sundays, features 40 other draft and bottled beers, a full bar, and hosts dart tournaments.
July 18 – Award-winning Napa Valley wines from the 32-year-old Peju Winery are getting served Wednesday from 5-7 p.m. at the Marietta Wine Market located just off the downtown Marietta Square. Although a young winery, Peju’s vintages have garnered constant critical acclaim. Served will be Peju’s Provence Red Blend, a Sauvignon Blanc, the Peju Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay that, owner Randall Heard says, “come from my favorite Napa Valley winery.” Admission requires a charity donation.
July 19 – The new , situated at the corner of Medlock Bridge and State Bridge roads, hosts a free “Taste of Portugal” wine and Port tasting from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Guests may sample two of the famous Port wines, and three (each) red and white wines produced in the five main Portuguese wine regions -- Douro, Tejo, Lisboa, Alentejo, and Dao. Although Ports are Portugal’s most well known wine, many of the country’s wineries have been in business anywhere from 100-400 years producing vintages on par with fine wines from other European countries. Artisan Vines Distributing Corp. is making the presentation. Check the store website for information.
July 20-28 – The gets celebrated all week with 20 percent discounted mixed wine case sales, a Customer Appreciation Wine Tasting from 3-5 p.m. Saturday, July 21, in the Bin 75 Tasting Room, and on Monday, July 23, an Anniversary Wine Dinner at the Alpharetta Pampas Steak House. The $90 per person Pampas dinner is limited to 100 guests. The July 21 wine tasting has no attendance limit and promises to be “an excellent tasting with quality wines” offered from four separate serving stations, says Bin 75 Manager Ray Leveille. Check the store website for final details. Another anniversary event is the 9th Annual Wine Challenge on Wednesday, July 25. Hinton’s also operates the Savvy Cellars in Sandy Springs at Roswell and Abernathy Roads.
July 21 – A free beer glass? Well, first you need to purchase a growler bottle of the Belgium-brewed Palm Amber Ale in Duluth’s Best of Brews, the downtown Main Street Growler shop anytime from noon to 8 p.m. It is all part of a celebration of Feest Dag, the Belgium national celebration of the country’s 1831 crowning of the first king. The brewery created a special beer goblet -- the free glass -- everyone gets with the purchase the Palm Amber.
July 21-29 – Downtown Atlanta Restaurant Week is the 20-plus restaurant foodie extravaganza where, for bargain prices of $25-$35 (less taxes and tips), diners may enjoy three-course meals of fine fare that showcase downtown dining experiences. Each participating establishment posts menus on their websites.
Although wines, beers and mixed drinks are not included in the prix-fixe prices, Restaurant Week does afford the opportunity to sip everything from the extensive wine selections from the Ritz-Carlton’s Atlanta Grill cellars to signature Tiki Cocktails at Trader Vic’s in the Atlanta Hilton. Brewpubs like Der Biergarten on Marietta Street and Max Lagers Grill & Brewery on Peachtree offer great beers. And if you wondered what the differences are in Tequilas, set aside one night at No Mas Cantina on Walker Street where 38 tequilas are available by the glass. It is a great chance to compare Blancos, Reposados, Anejos and those high-end Superiores.
July 22 – The JTC.Kitchen “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes Festival” takes place from 1-4 p.m. at the JTC.Kitchen & Bar on Howell Mill Road in Atlanta. Sponsors promise 34 chefs and 12 mixologists celebrating “the South’s best chefs, farmers and mixologists” in a $70 per-person event benefiting Georgia Organics. Local chefs will be paired with area farmers creating tomato dishes. Baristas will mix tomato cocktails served to guests and judges.
Among the celebrity judges are Garden & Guns Deputy Editor Dave Metz and actor David Miller, who played the part of Mason Dixon in that stinker of a B-grade movie, “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.” The film ranked as the worst horror movie ever made. Happily, food and drinks will not be frightful considering event sponsors include Wild Heaven Craft Beers, Kanon Organic Vodka, Don Julio Tequila, Ole Smokey Moonshine, and Unita Brewing.
July 25 – Christmas in July? Yes! The Smyrna Atkins Park on Atlanta Road -- not the Atkins Park in Virginia Highland -- is hosting a Summer Christmas Party from 10 p.m. Wednesday overnight until 4 a.m. Thursday, July 26. It is a BIG party. There will be a D.J., Jagermeister elves serving Jagermeister shots, a gift-bearing Santa Claus, and discount prices on Samuel Adams Boston Lager and Summer Seasonal Beer. Admission charges and reservations are not required.
July 26 – This is Swag Day at Duluth’s Best of Brews, the city’s only Growler shop. The store is participating in a promotion for the two Michigan-made Crispin Hard Ciders. Guests cannot sample the fermented apple ciders because Best of Brews cannot serve beverages on premises. For this 4-7 p.m., promotion, they are offering free T-shirts, hats, and free glasses for customers purchasing a growler of Crispin.
July 26 – Salud! At Harry’s Whole Foods Market in Alpharetta offers an especially outstanding white wine educational demonstration and tasting. “Whites For Summer” lasts from 6:30-8:30 p.m. White wines are ideal candidates for warm weather sipping. These versions range from very dry to sweet. Salud! Is uncorking upwards of 12 varieties. Guests will sample Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Viognier, Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio wines; Chenin Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Alberino, Semillion, Moscato and Muscat blends; Pinot Blanc, Trebbiano, Albario and others -- a great variety for only $35 admission. Make reservations quickly. Check the Salud! schedule for other wine programs.
July 27 – Another premium wine tasting will serve over 15 varieties of California, Oregon and Washington State wines at the “Proud To Drink American” program from 6:30-9 p.m. at the Perimeter Total Wine & More Superstore. These vintages typically sell for $20-$50 per bottle. Guests may nibble on meats, cheeses and bread while walking between the three pouring stations and sampling varieties from wineries large and small.
Included among the offerings are Paradise Peak Sweet Gewurztraminer, two Cabernet Sauvignons -- Gamache Vintners Columbia Cab and White Cottage’s Howell Mountain Cab. There is Oak Ridge Old Vines Petit Sirah from Lodi, the Kudos Willamette Valley and the Bridgman Winery Rieslings. Other wines are the Cardwell Hill, Anam Cara Winery, and Bishop Creek “Valois” Reserve Pinot Noirs, Stoneybrook Sonoma Zinfandel, OFV Pinot Gris, the Rock View (Mendocino) Chardonnay, and Sobon Estates Viognier. Reservations are advised.
July 28 – A summer "Farm Feast" wine dinner starts at 7 p.m. in the Red Barn Cafe at Tiger Mountain Winery near Clayton. Guest Chef Lee Epting, owner of Epting Events, is presenting a four-course repast, pairing foods like Georgia Peach Wellington and Sweet Grass Dairy cheeses with Tiger Mountain wines., including the winery's Petit Mensang, Viognier, French-style Rose' and
others. The menu includes an heirloom tomato salad, Pancetta-braised short ribs, and a Rustic Hill vegetable medley. Seating is limited. The $75 per person cost must be prepaid with the reservation.
Charles Arnold is a marketing consultant and journalist who lives in Stockbridge. A former a radio and television news broadcaster who worked seven years as an Atlanta Business Chronicle columnist, he currently writes for beverage trade magazines. “Always drink responsibly,” he insists. “Alcoholism is an addiction. Drunk driving kills.”