img_2443The North Georgia mountains and foothills, once famous for the illicit moonshine industry, have in modern times turned to a legally-acceptable alternative, now being the site of numerous prospering vineyards and wineries.

Lumpkin County, located in these picturesque foothills, is the home of several vineyard/winery operations, and on Saturday and Sunday, June 6-7, the county’s original wine celebration will be held at Three Sisters Vineyards & Winery near Dahlonega. The annual Georgia Wine Country Festival, which is observing its 8th year, will be a weekend filled with fine wine, art, music and other fun-filled activities.

Those coming to this festival will be able to sample wines not only from North Georgia but from around the entire state of Georgia. The wines featured this year include those from Boutier Winery, Danielsville; Georgia Wines of Ringgold; Crimson n’ Scarlett Winery, Dawsonville; Rock Creek Winery, Nashville; Three Sisters Vineyards, Chestatee, Walasiyi Wine Company, and Fat Boy wines from Dahlonega, and more.

img_2436Celebrants will also enjoy unique musical entertainment presented from the winery’s “crush pad” by regional musicians presenting bluegrass, folk, Americana, and rock ‘n’ roll. The music lineup is larger than in previous years and includes The Appalachian St. Andrew’s Society Pipe Band, The Buzzard Mountain Boys, Cindy Musslewhite & Friends, Queen Deaton and The Hot Dates, Tim Quigley, Route 66, and The Georgia Waybacks.

Three Sisters, owned by Doug and Sharon Paul, is known as “Dahlonega’s First Family Farm Winery.” During the festival, its 184-acre vineyard grounds will feature tents with folk art, handmade items, travel and culinary, resorts and accommodations, real estate, local honey, promotional and farm exhibits, and many others involved in the active lifestyle of Georgia Wine Country. Special folk artist John “Cornbread” Anderson will be attending with original works of art for sale. Food and beverages can be purchased inside from local chefs, including Chef Dairen Roberts, who served for several years as executive chef for Jimmy Buffett and his yachting business, and Chef Kelly Finucan, who has cooked for Celine Dion and who has a strong local following. Chocolatiers Debbie and Tony Owens of The Fudge Factory of Dahlonega will have hand dipped strawberries and cherries available in the tasting room, while Ooh La La Cheesecakes & More of Gainesville will be offering desserts.

img_2446Gold City Corral of Dahlonega will present vineyard wagon rides, Upper River Adventures of Blue Ridge will be raffling a $250 Guided Fly Fishing Trip, and silent and live charity auctions for SEBA, The SouthEastern Bluegrass Association, will be conducted.  There will also be fundraising activities by PAWS (The Pet Adoption and Welfare Society) and the Lumpkin County Historical Society.

Festival hours are 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday and 11:30 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday. Daily admission: $20 for ages 21 & older (includes souvenir wine glass), $10 for designated drivers and under 21, and kids under 12 are will be admitted free. The festival will be presented “rain or shine” under vineyard tents. Visit www.ThreeSistersVineyards.com for more information, directions to the site, and registration. Current returning sponsors are The Fudge Factory of Dahlonega, Long Mountain Lodge of Dahlonega, Upper River Adventures of Blue Ridge.

Photos by Margo Booth

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Jimmy Booth

Jimmy Booth

Lifelong Georgia resident Jimmy Booth, who was a longtime Atlanta area journalist and public relations consultant, moved in fall of 2006 from Peachtree City, Ga., to Dahlonega, Ga. He and his wife Margo have become involved with several Dahlonega-based not-for-profit cultural arts and historical organizations working to keep alive the traditional mountain music, art and folkways which are a vital part of the area's heritage. Jimmy graduated from Emory University, where he served as editor of The Emory Wheel. During his journalistic career, he worked as publisher or editor of several Georgia weekly and small daily newspapers, and he was a section editor for The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. Now officially retired, he handles publicity for some of the events and organizations in the Dahlonega area.