The warmth of Tuscan architecture at each turn. The aroma of vineyards yielding the first fruits of a complex wine. The authenticity of a village devoted to setting the table with more than just local ingredients.
If you think I'm reminiscing about a recent excursion to the Italian countryside, think again. I'm talking about 400 acres of North Georgia that will change the way you think of Southern graces- Montaluce Winery and Estates.
To say that Montaluce is just a resort would be incorrect - the estates are actually a real "wine-lifestyle" community of about 40 homes, currently, with room to grow up to 300 homes. "All of the construction is totally Tuscan," says Realtor Mel Hewin, who manages rentals and purchases in Montaluce. "If you were to go to Italy, you would find the same construction."
Located at 946 Via Montaluce in Dahlonega, Ga., this little piece of Italy is only about 105 miles from downtown Chattanooga.
The entire development nestled right outside of Dahlonega, Ga., centers on the idea of wine, food, community and "la tavola," or "the table," with the 25, 000-square-foot Montaluce Winery complex sitting at the heart of the community. The winery also houses Le Vigne, the estate's own restaurant, which serves modern cuisine while taking ingredients from the organic garden onsite. "Montaluce is very Old Worldly - down to the wine we make," explains Joseph Hummel, retail sales and marketing director of Montaluce. "Our food is farm to table; everything is so fresh we don't even have a freezer here."
Gardener Graig Medon is currently working on expanding the garden, planting winter crops as fall sets in, including collard greens, mustard greens, carrots, radishes, beets and a variety of lettuces. "My objective is to grow as many fruits and vegetables to supply the restaurant with as many different varieties as possible so they don't have to do any ordering," he says. Since his wife, Madeline, is the sous chef, they easily keep the line of communication open when it comes to supply and demand.
"Our wines are a cross between a food-friendly and drinkable wine." - Joseph Hummel, retail sales and marketing director of Montaluce Estates.
While Montaluce's emphasis is on placing the community around the dinner table, guests, of course, can't forget the wine. Currently offering 11 different types of wine, head winemaker Maria Peterson has traveled the world studying the art of fine winemaking. "Peterson is an acclaimed winemaker," Hummel says. "Our wines are a cross between a food-friendly and drinkable wine."
Guests are free to roam the estate, meander through the vineyards, which are open to the public, and relax by the ponds and streams. "We are just under 20 acres of vine-growing space," Hummel says. "Mostly, the biggest attraction [offsite] is the little downtown square, and we are not more than 15 or 20 minutes away from golf courses." Artists gather at the square to sell handmade crafts while musicians strike a chord in the local atmosphere. Hummel adds that there are plenty of area restaurants that serve delicious meals when Le Vigne isn't on the agenda.
According to Hewin, there are three cottages available to rent, each of which sleep up to six people. Hummel says that Montaluce Estates can host anything from wedding parties to corporate office events to family reunions, but the vineyards and grounds are also available for a romantic Tuscan getaway that is still close to home.