A blind tasting of North Georgia wines

3 Parks Wine Shop owner Sarah Pierre had plenty of fun, delicious observations

A blind tasting of North Georgia wines

Photograph by Martha Williams

We recruited Sarah Pierre, owner of 3 Parks Wine Shop in Glenwood Park, to do a blind tasting of wines we collected while exploring North Georgia’s wine country. Selected by Wine Enthusiast as one of the 50 “Best Wine Retail/Best Wine Clubs in America” in 2020, 3 Parks offers weekly tastings, a wide variety of wines, wine growlers on tap, and an active wine club. We covered the labels so Pierre would have no idea what she was going to taste. Georgia’s innovative hybrids proved hard to identify, but Pierre had lots of fun, delicious observations:

A blind tasting of North Georgia winesYoung American Rosé, Volume 2, Yonah Mountain Vineyards
This wine is light amber in color. Very similar to an orange/skin contact wine. Holy sweet, Batman. A bit caught off guard by the sugar level, especially with this being wine number one. Notes of tangerine pith, and Cuties zest—yes, Cuties, the little baby orange. But to my surprise, a taste of nostalgia presented itself on the finish. It took me a second to pinpoint it, but the wine reminded me of conversation hearts: the bitter, chalky, tart, sweet candy that everyone loves to hate but actually loves on Valentine’s Day.

A blind tasting of North Georgia wines2021 Cabernet Franc, Stonewall Creek Vineyards
This winery nailed it. This is warm-climate cabernet franc to a T. The bell pepper and red berry fruit are classic cab franc characteristics. This wine doesn’t appear to be oaked. I really enjoyed this wine. Would definitely recommend this place to people visiting Georgia wineries.

A blind tasting of North Georgia wines2021 Viognier, Tiger Mountain Vineyards
The aromas are . . . interesting on this wine. The wine appears a bit viscous in the glass. When I tasted it, I immediately said it was viognier or a Rhone-style blend. Floral with notes of bruised apple, and pear. The acidity doesn’t overpower the wine, but it is present. Alcohol seems quite high in this white wine. Shall we say this is the wine to enjoy with dinner that might lead to an unintended dance party right after?

A blind tasting of North Georgia wines2021 Enotah, Crane Creek Vineyards
I’m stumped. No guess on what the grape varietal is. This wine has tropical aromas on the nose. On the palate, I immediately tasted banana Now and Laters, coconut, piña colada. Notes of lime zest, lemon and lime squeeze. The wine is tart—the acidity levels will definitely make you pucker. This wine appears to be oaked. Kudos to this winemaker for making something fun. Perhaps a bachelorette party wine?

A blind tasting of North Georgia wines2020 Viognier, Kaya Vineyards & Winery
This wine is either chardonnay or viognier. It’s rich on the palate, definitely aged in new American oak. Floral with a long finish. They went a little heavy on the acid, but I really like it. Without it, the wine would be extremely flabby and dull. This one is a keeper! I’d gift this wine as a Georgia souvenir to a friend in town.

A blind tasting of North Georgia winesMake Me Blush, Ott Farms & Vineyard
Fun! This one is a chillable red. The perfect summer red, or the red wine to drink as we settle into fall. Dark-colored tavel, rosé pink in color, with expressive notes of cranberry juice, pomegranate, and Luxardo cherries. Chill that bad boy down and sit on your front porch watching the leaves change. Or, better yet, make this your 2022 Thanksgiving rosé!

A blind tasting of North Georgia wines2016 Claret, Wolf Mountain Vineyards
This wine is syrah or at least wants to be! Smoky and savory. Notes of cured meat, firewood, chocolate, vanilla, and burnt s’mores. All I can think about is a holiday Lifetime movie and singing, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire . . .”

A blind tasting of North Georgia wines2015 Genesis X, Yonah Mountain Vineyards
This is the wine we will use to brag about Georgia Wine Country with. This wine is great. This is syrah. Wait . . . is this from Georgia? Blue fruit and black fruit notes. Lush tannins. Hint of spice. This is a very well-made wine. Sign me up for a case!

A blind tasting of North Georgia wines2019 Merlot, Accent Cellars
Tastes just like a cordial cherry—you know, the chocolate-covered, boozy cherries that our grandmothers used to snack on around the holidays. Slightly sweet ripe fruit, nice mouthfeel, medium body. Merlot or a cabernet merlot blend?

A blind tasting of North Georgia wines2021 Traminette, Cartecay Vineyards
Tart white wine with interesting notes of lemon basil and peppermint. Nectarine skin and peach notes were also present. Round on the palate. Never had a wine that tasted quite like this.

This article appears in our November 2022 issue.