By David Zunker
To properly align with this month’s theme – food – I had thought of writing about some of the more unique dishes featured at Dahlonega’s popular downtown restaurants. Like Spirits Tavern’s “Trash Pile,” a ridiculously delicious take on the traditional cheeseburger. All the fixin’s are unceremoniously (but lovingly) dumped into a mini garbage can and put on a plate.
Or the award-winning “Best of Georgia” gumbo cheese fries at Bourbon Street Grille. They’ll make you wonder how you got to New Orleans without the long drive.
Or the meatball sliders at Gustavo’s, three tidy tastes of delectable red sauce, balled up in burger and sausage and on a bun.
Or classic fish and chips at Shenanigan’s, named Georgia’s best Irish pub this past year – an amazing feat considering the number of Irish pubs around. The fish dish comes in two sizes: wonderful and slightly more wonderful.
Or anything seafood from the Backporch Oyster Bar. The proprietors fly in fish from anywhere in the world, usually within a day. Don’t miss the gorgonzola shrimp linguine.
Or any of the tapas at Corkscrew Café – like the Manchego-Yuca Fritters. Who knew yuca was edible (and yummy!)?
Or a simple bowl of Pueblos southwest soup, topped with what seems like a whole California county’s worth of avocado. The cup is a delight; a bowl with chips and salsa makes a meal.
Or choose from two chocolate shops: Try the Fudge Shop’s version of turtles, called “nuggets,” a salute Dahlonega’s gold. Or try Paul
Thomas’s “gold bar” chocolate.
Suddenly Dahlonega is a foodie town – more than 15 restaurants in a walkable historic district that requires they all be independently owned. No franchises here.
I was going to write about that, but instead I’d like to talk about something more timely – wine.
Dahlonega, Lumpkin County and the North Georgia Mountains have become known for vineyards, wineries and wine-tasting rooms. Wineries here have taken their product on the road and won statewide, national and international awards for outstanding quality. The entire region will soon be known as the Dahlonega Plateau.
Dahlonega is also the official “Wine Tasting Room Capital” of Georgia, the perfect city mouse/country mouse complement to wines grown in this beautiful area.
Geologically, this region has always been known as the Dahlonega Plateau. Its elevation between 1,300 and 1,800 feet and warm, dry summers are perfect for exceptional grape growing and the production of fine wines. One local winemaker even recalls Delta pilots pointing out the Dahlonega Plateau from the air as they approached Atlanta.
Many, many more than just airline passengers will soon know the Dahlonega Plateau phrase when that American Viticultural Area (AVA) designation is accorded – soon – to seven or more wineries in this region. This appellation will be carried on wine bottles and in promotional material for all wines made in this area, most heavily concentrated in Lumpkin County. They all share the same soil and climate, also known as terroir.
What makes this significant? Well, think Napa and Sonoma, the Fingerlakes region in Upstate New York – and if we can be so brash – the Loire Valley or Bordeaux regions in France.
This application process has taken well over a year, and we’re beyond excited that the Dahlonega Plateau will be the first all-inclusive AVA-designated wine region in Georgia.
It will quite literally put us on the map.