…The North Georgia mountains that is, and what a day it was! I recently had the privilege of attending the Hiawassee Highlands Wine Festival held at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, a place I had visited before.

Held on Saturday, May 7, the event included local and regional wineries from around the state. Although the day was a bit overcast it did not dampen the spirits of the thousands of people who attended and fortunately it remained a dry day, that is except for the many lucky ones who may have indulged in the taste of their favorite wines from the 30-plus wineries featured at the festival.

Upon entering the fairgrounds one was handed a souvenir glass along with a pamphlet of the many wineries included in the tour and was pointed in the direction of the Pioneer Village where the tour began.

I love the fairgrounds with the beautiful replication of the old pioneer town and the old shops and mercantiles that we strolled by as we first entered the booths where the wine tastings began.

Many tables lined the way with an assortment of snacks to accompany the wine tastings such as pretzels and peanuts, which my hubby didn’t delay sampling!

Although thousands had attended the festival it did not seem too crowded as the day began at 11 a.m., and ended at 5 p.m. giving everyone plenty of time to indulge their tastebuds.

Six live bands performed that day on two stages including groups such as True Youngblood, Goldpine, Wyatt Espalin and the Youngbloods, and The Murphs performing on the main stage as well as Michael Jones and Austin Coleman performing on the Post Office Stage.

Almost every local and statewide winery was represented at the wine tasting event, and although I would have liked to try them all, fortunately for me, I could not indulge in all the tastings.

Some of the local wineries in my area were The Fainting Goat, Engelheim Winery, Chateau Meichtry, Cartecay and the new Buckley Winery. Most of the wineries were represented by volunteers who did the pouring, and one could sample as many of their products as they liked. Whether your favorite was a dry or sweet, red or white, there were plenty to choose from.

Along with all the wine tastings there were plenty of beautiful handmade crafts at very reasonable costs, I might add. My favorite was the vendor “A to Z” who literally had anything one might want to decorate a rustic cabin or home!

The Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds also gave tours of the Hamilton Gardens and although we were some of the few to leave a little later I managed to make my way over to the gardens before we left and was so glad I did.

The views of the shore of Lake Chatuge were absolutely breathtaking as well as all of the beautiful rhododendrons in full bloom. It was so peaceful just walking through the gardens before the sunset and a wonderful way to spend the beautiful day.

The Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds was founded in 1978 and is located in Hiawassee on Music Hall Road on 161 acres. They are considered the “Country Music Capital” of Georgia hosting dozens of country music concerts throughout the year.

They also have a fair with rides during the year as well as fall festivals and you can always visit the Pioneer Village whenever you go.

They also hold special pioneer village re-enactments during the year where you can learn how things were done back in the old days with blacksmithing, candle making, weaving, quilting and many other artisans demonstrating the old pioneer days.

Their upcoming Fall Festival is a nine-day event that features exhibitors, events and dozens of crafters. In addition to the events they hold annually they are also a campground with 207 campsites where you can stay and enjoy the events without having to leave!

To learn more please visit their website at www.georgiamountainfairgrounds.com.