Monday, March 2, 2015

A Budget Day Trip to Chateau Elan's Winery

There are many ways to occupy a day away from the city at Chateau Elan.

The winery at Chateau Elan in Braselton, Georgia, is an inexpensive and easy day trip from the Atlanta metro area.

On a visit this past Independence Day, we spent three hours at Chateau Elan, mostly just at the winery, which included a self-guided tour, a few sips at the tasting bar, and a walk through the art gallery, gift shop, and grounds. Meeting a challenge we had set for ourselves to spend less than $25.00, the entire day at the winery cost a grand total of only $5.00.

A Short Trip from Atlanta, Georgia

Having never been to Braselton, I was very impressed with the signage on I-85, Highway 211, and on the grounds. There was no confusion about where to turn or where to park. The winery is a very close walk from the parking area, and the walk is very beautiful.  The grounds are planted with well-manicured lawns and gardens.

Our first stop was the hotel, where we enjoyed the indoor fountains, sky lights, and many comfortable seating areas. From there we headed out to the winery and grounds.

Welcoming visitors walking to the winery from the hotel, there is a magnificent fountain with a statue of a woman stomping grapes; she makes a great photo companion.

Surrounding the winery are acres of grapevines, a path leading to the nature trail, and a view of the equestrian center. The final touch a visitor cannot help noticing before entering the winery is the large, primitive clay vessels standing at the entrance.

Inside the Chateau Elan Winery

Once we entered the winery, there were several options for what we could do first. We chose to wander through the gift area and take a look at the varieties of wine available. We also took a peek into The Culinary Studio, which is advertised on the winery brochure as a "teaching kitchen" where they offer classes, demonstrations, and events.

Although guided tours are offered during the week at 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., we chose to take a self-guided tour instead of waiting for the 3:00 tour to begin. The employees were very helpful getting us started, and there are placards within the winemaking area to help explain the winemaking process.

Unfortunately, we were there pre-harvest, and there were no grapes in process that day. We completed our tour with a stop at the tasting bar, where for $5.00 we tried five varieties of both red and white Muscadine wines.

Closing Out the Vineyard Trip

After our tour of the winemaking area, we also stepped into the upstairs art gallery, which includes artwork turned wine-labels, and rested our slightly light-headed selves on a lovely leather bench while it began to rain lightly outdoors. Feeling slightly spontaneous as well as slightly light-headed, we decided to forego bicycle rental and instead walked through the vineyard back to our car in spite of the rain.

Our Independence Day was a very lovely first trip to Chateau Elan's winery, and we are planning a return trip in the fall. The trip to Braselton from Atlanta was effortless, there was plenty to see and do both indoors and outdoors, and the wine was fantastic! I'm looking forward to eating at one or more of the many restaurants, taking a cooking class, taking a guided tour of the winery post-harvest, perhaps seeing a horse show, staying overnight to enjoy the spa and swimming pool, and definitely tasting a few more of those Muscadine wines.

Copyright Amy Lynn Hess. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.  Originally published July 8, 2011. 

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