Stir Up Romance with North Georgia Wine, Weddings, Spas, and Pottery

By Jerry Brown

For matters of the heart, Alpine Helen/White County and the surrounding villages of Sautee and Nacoochee think outside the jacuzzi.

Located one hour north of Atlanta, this Bavarian village in the Northeast Georgia Mountains, whose Main Street runs alongside the Chattahoochee River and surrounding hills are thickly forested – has atmosphere, élan and a lush naturescape. It is an affordable destination for weddings, receptions and honeymoons.

Romance is in the mountains, with unique and beautiful venues for weddings, honeymoons and romantic getaways. Say “I do” in the Alpine Wedding Chapel, on a lake cruise as the sun sets, near a cascading waterfall or atop the mountain at a luxury bed and breakfast inn. Alpine Helen has nearly a dozen businesses to help with wedding planning, from the proposal to the flowers to the honeymoon, including Hofer’s Bakery, whose pastries and cakes have been featured on “The Secret Life of Wedding Cakes” on the Food Network.

Pre-wedding, ladies will love relaxing at Lucille’s Mountain Top Inn & Spa, a sybaritic retreat sitting in mountaintop splendor in Sautee-Nacoochee. It offers two Southern-themed treatments among its menu of therapies: a Firming and Revitalizing Blackstrap Molasses Facial and a Brightening and Deep Moisturizing Peach Body Scrub. Then, it’s time to shop Sautee, a metaphor for the community itself: artist-centric, distinctive and fun. A stop at the historic Old Sautee Store is a must.

While ladies are shopping and spa-ing, the gents can shout, “fore!” at Innsbruck Resort and Golf Club – our championship 18-hole golf course with a driving range. Non-golfers can race down mountain biking trails. Or see who walks away telling the biggest tale, testing angler skills while luring trout in North Georgia’s trophy trout streams. Seek out Anna Ruby Falls in the Chattahoochee National Forest – a moderate ½-mile paved trail that leads to two viewing decks of twin waterfalls.

In the evenings, bring the group together in the downtown Helen area, where cares are left behind and the backdrop is the Chattahoochee River. Peruse the shops for one-of-a-kind wedding gifts like hand-blown, fused and recycled art glass, handcrafted, glazed and painted pottery, and hand-pieced and sewn quilts where the number of tiny, even stitches per square is still a badge of honor among practitioners of this age-old art form.

Mountainside and mountaintop accommodations, including bed and breakfast inns, cabins and condos, have amenities designed to heat up romance: fireplaces, in-room waterfalls, towel warmers and whirlpool and jetted tubs.

Enjoy wine tastings at CeNita Vineyards, Habersham Winery, Serenity Cellars, Cottage Vineyard and Winery, Kaya Vineyards, Sylvan Valley Lodge and Tasting Room and Yonah Mountain Vineyards.

Dine at internationally spiced riverside restaurants and cafés and choose gifts, chocolates and a special piece of original pottery or artwork for each other along Helen’s bustling shopping thoroughfare.

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