Take a Tasting Tour in the Mountains

North Georgia & the Copper Basin are premier destinations for craft beer, hard cider & wine

By Trey Smith, Freelance Writer

Life’s too short for bad beer (or mediocre wine for that matter). And here in the mountains, we have all the necessary ingredients to cure that “ale-ment”— knowle­dgeable and passionate brewers and wine growers, great pubs and restaurants, and an appreciative audience of locals and visitors.

Local Wines Find Their Time

Think local, buy local at Serenberry Vineyards, located just a few country miles outside of Blue Ridge in Morganton, GA. Try what you want then buy what you like, all while learning about the history of the area in a beautiful setting overlooking the vineyard. With seven to eight wine varieties available, there’s always something to enjoy — whether you’re a fan of sweet whites, serious reds or fruity rosés.

For a unique experience in a true farm setting visit Mercier Orchards, the only apple orchard in Georgia that grows, presses, ferments and bottles its own hard apple cider & farm wines. Mercier’s wines include Fall Harvest Apple, Blackberry Winter and Summer Sweet Peach, but it also carries some of the best regional wines in-store for you to taste and bring home.

For upcountry views, a wide selection of local-loved wines and the opportunity to spend the night in the famous Blue Ridge Treehouse, be sure to visit Fannin County’s newest winery, Bear Claw Vineyards.

Enjoy Flavor & Fellowship at area Breweries

The new kids on the block are changing the game! Just over the Tennessee border, Copperhill Brewery blends passion with profession, brewing high-quality, diverse and exceptional-tasting craft beers. Visit the taproom and experience the best in flavor and fellowship.

Recently-opened Buck Bald Brewing, also in Copperhill, aims for a fun, friendly atmosphere, while bringing award-winning IPAs, pale ales and other original craft beers to the tri-state area.

Closer to Blue Ridge, Grumpy Old Men Brewing offers 18 taps in their testing room, blending new up-and-coming brews with well-known regulars. Fannin Brewing mixes classic, specialty and seasonal beers with an eye toward local flavor, sourcing local ingredients (like Mercier’s strawberries!) in many of their crafts. Finally, enjoy a night out with Blue Ridge Brewery, which carries a number of hand-crafted artisanal beers and in-house brews beside live music and a tasty full-food menu.

Cider take a Hard Turn

For a unique experience in a true farm setting, visit Mercier Orchards, the only apple orchard in Georgia that grows, presses, ferments and bottles its own hard apple cider and farm wines. Mercier’s was the first to produce hard cider in the state. Taste the best “Georgia Grown” hard ciders, with names like Grumpy Granny, Old #3, Black Bee and Legends. And don’t miss the newest addition, Cold Day in Hops IPA, a hard apple cider infused with American hops; it’s “hoppie” on the front with a dry finish.

Cheers to Choices

If you’re a craft beer, wine or hard cider enthusiast, you have plenty of options for quenching your thirst. Start by checking websites for tasting hours, live music, tours, events and more. You can also order most local drinks in many of our area restaurants — or even grab a growler to go from a local shop.

Bear Claw Vineyards (bearclawvineyards.com)

Blue Ridge Brewery (blueridgebrewery.com)

Buck Bald Brewing (buckbaldbrewing.com)

Copperhill Brewery (copperhillbrewery.com)

Fannin Brewing Company (fanninbrewingcompany.com)

Grumpy Old Men Brewing (grumpyoldmenbrewing.com)

Mercier Orchards (mercierorchards.com)

Serenberry Vineyards (serenberryvineyards.com)