Cool Sipping in Hot August

Chill out at a German bierfest, brewery tour, tomato festival, Riesling tastings and more during this hot, muggy month.

Ugh.Those soggy, hot August Dog Days are upon us. Normally, this  is the time  that “get-up-and-go” activities  fall off to almost nothing except for school starting and temperatures soaring up to the high 90s. Not so for this August. No one needs sunscreen in an air conditioned room. Opportunities abound to sip and savor your favorite beers, wines, and spirits. There is so much to do and so little time!

From the South’s largest German Bierfest to the promise (maybe) of a La Tomatina festival tomato fight, the list goes on and on and on. Folks bus to VIP brewery tours; executives from Italy, Oregon, California and Spain are visiting offering wines. There are celebrations for delicious craft beers and a new growler shop opening -- even wine parties on the cool mountain plateaus around Dahlonega and Young Harris.

August 7 & 21 – Avondale Estate’s Little Wine Shop, located at 100 North Avondale Road, scheduled two separate sit-down wine tastings, beginning at 7 p.m. both nights. Manager Andrew Poor said six wines are going to be presented and discussed each evening. The Little Wine Shop also hosts free wine tastings from 1- 5 p.m. each Saturday where customers sample sips of from three to four vintages. 

August 8 – Global Wines of Georgia presents wines from a new portfolio from 6-9 p.m. at Ten Bristo in Norcross on Peachtree Parkway. Ten Bistro also offers an optional wine dinner. Reds and whites include Casa Rivas Sauvignon Blanc from Argentina, Punti Ferrer Carmenere from Chile, plus Lobetia Chardonnay and “Val” Valdelosfrailes Tempranillo, two Spanish vintages. Call 770-375-8330 or email tenlocalflavors@gmail.com.

Aug. 10Niko’s Wine Corner in Lawrenceville hosts a Spanish wine tasting of estate-grown organic and biodynamic vintages from Domino de Punctum. It takes place 6:30-8:30 p.m. Niko’s is on Crogan Street across from the old Gwinnett Courthouse. Domino de Punctrum in Castilla-La Mancha is a large wine region around the famous city of Toledo in central southeastern Spain. Wine samples include Domino de Punctum Vignier, their Syrah, a Chardonnay, a Tempranillo and a Petit Verdot/Tempranillo blend. 

August 11 – A free, nine vintage tasting of Spanish red and white wines happens 2-6 p.m. in the recently opened Johns Creek Wine and Crystal Shop. Owners are expanding a schedule of in-store wine tasting. The store is near the corner of Medlock Bridge and State Bridge roads. Wines up for sampling and comparing are Marquis de Gelida Cava, a sparkling wine, Arindo Rueda 2011, Botani Moscatel Seco, a dry style Moscado, and Tarima Monastrell. Others are Atteca Old Vine Garnacha, Venta Mazzaron, Alver 1927 “Solera,” and two 2007 vintages -- Altos de Luzon and Muga Reserva. 

August 15 – Duluth’s Kurt’s Bristo on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard announced a “reinvented” Happy Hour plus a new monthly, one-night, beer or wine tasting that takes place from 6-8 p.m. German Rieslings are the featured wines. This longtime favorite eatery hosts summertime Happy Hours between 5-7 p.m. Mondays to Fridays. Guests may sample wines or biers or spirits paired with small food plates. The mid-month wine dinner sees either a beer or wine pairing with a multi-course meal.

August 15 - The Crepe Revolution Restaurant -- located in Smyrna’s West Village at I-285 and South Atlanta Roa -- hosts a sit-down, blind tasting wine challenge at 7 p.m. It matches three wines from Australia against three similar vintages from New Zealand, comparing two Sauvignon Blancs, two Pinot Noirs, and two Cabernet Sauvignons. At blind tastings, guests know what wine types they are sampling but are not told where or who produces it until the end. Fun tastings like these make guests concentrate on the diversity of tastes and flavors. Attendance is limited to 25 people with a $20 per person admission.  RSVP required.

August 16 – Bob Morris, an Oregon winery founder, owner, and winemaker, will present his Phelps Creek Vineyards wines at a free tasting from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the recently opened Johns Creek Wine and Crystal Shop. The store is at State Bridge and Medlock Bridge Roads. Phelps Creek is located in the Columbia Gorge AVA, near Hood River, OR. Morris is pouring and discussing most of the varieties he makes. This includes his two 2009 vintage “Oak Ridge” Gewurztraminer and Mt. Defiance “Vin de Glace” Pinot Gris dessert wines, a 2010 Estate Reserve Chardonnay, and the 2009 Columbia Gorge Pinot Noir, among others. 

August 16 & 18 – The phenomenal growth in all the beer varieties coming from craft breweries over the last dozen years created the “Beer Renaissance” we see now in American. Big national brewing companies are finding their national market shares dropping from 6-10 percent each year. The Perimeter Total Wine & More Superstore is holding two Great Craft Beer Classes. One is at 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday, another at 3-5 p.m., Saturday. Instructors offer discussions and beer tastings demonstrating how the recipes and mixes of beer’s principal ingredients -- hops, malt, water and yeast -- influence craft beer flavor and styles. Make reservations.

August 18 – A new line of Spanish Tempranillo, all from the Rioja Region, may be sipped and savored for free during the regular 2-4 p.m. Saturday afternoon wine tasting at The Wine Cellars, Inc., located in the Smyrna Market Village. Owners promise a “Vibrant Rioja” event, offering everything from Joven, Crianza, Reservas, and Gran Reserva Tempranillos presented by Ms. Dhane Chesson, Rioja Regional Wine Specialist from New York City.  By new we mean these winery labels are newly licensed and have not before been sold in Georgia. Wineries in Rioja have been producing fine red wines since ancient Roman times. 

August 18 – Why not a day eating Irish pub food and drinking Atlanta beer? The newly opened Olde Blind Dog Irish Pub at 750 Town Boulevard in Brookhaven (the original pub is in Milton) is sponsoring a charity benefit for the Upper Chattahoochee River Keepers Foundation. The program offers a complimentary buffet and VIP Tour of Atlanta’s SweetWater Brewing Company. For $40, guests eat and drink in the pub, ride a bus to the brewery tour and enjoy more glasses filled with SweetWater beer. 

August 19Frogtown Cellars outside of Dahlonega scheduled one of its private wine club events from 3-5 p.m. Frogtown wine club parties, called Citizen’s Soirees. The Citizen’s Pre- Harvest Soiree gives club members free wine and food and celebrates the release of four newly bottled vintages, said Cydney Kritzer. Frogtown Citizens club members get to drink for free as much of these four new wines as they wish here today in addition to receiving free food, along with other year-round benefits such as special parties and generous wine purchase discounts, among other things.

August 20-21 – Two Founders Craft Beer and Cheese Dinners are set from 7-9 p.m. both nights at the Summits Wayside Taverns in Cumming and Snellville.  Both nights, beers from the award-winning Founders Brewing Company in Michigan are paired with Italian, French, English, Spanish and American cheeses -- Gorgonzola, Stilton, Roquefort and two Blues-- finishing with a main course (Lamb Kabobs), soup, dessert, flatbreads and vegetables. Founders Beers include the Centennial and Linchpin IPA’s, Founders Porter and Founders Cerise.

August 22The Capital City Package Store is sponsoring a Mount Eden Vineyards master tasting from 6-8:30 p.m. at Abbatoir, a Howell Mill Road restaurant. Mount Eden Vineyard National Sales Manager Abby Costello is presenting six of the Santa Cruz winery’s top vintages. Seating is limited to 15 participants. The event offers the 2009 vintages of Wolff Vineyard Chardonnay and Domaine Eden Chardonnay and the 2009 Domaine Eden Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2008 Mount Eden Estate Chardonnay and the 2008 Mount Eden Estate Cabernet are included. All are sold at Capital City Package. Reservations required. 

August 22 – Say “Ciao Italiano!”  An Italian high-end red wine tasting starts at 7:30 p.m. in The pH Wine Merchant on Peachtree Hills Avenue in Atlanta.  Although it is limited to 20 people, featured are those great Brunello and Barbaresco DOC wines  from north west Italy’s Piedmont Region. Reservations required. Cost is $30 per person. 

August 22 – Ever wondered what the tastes differences are between the spicy, peppery red wine that Australians call Shiraz but everyone else calls Syrah? A wine program at 7 p.m. in Dunwoody’s Wine Xplorer, 1402 Dunwoody Village Parkway, lets guests sample six of them to compare Australian Shiraz and Syrah from France, where the grape originated. See, the grape is the same. Australians spell it differently. The flavor contrasts come through winemaking styles, the soils, and climates where they grow.  

August 25 – Woodruff Park will be decked out in black, red and gold from 2-7 p.m. at the 9th Annual German Bierfest. This is a rousing, family-friendly celebration of great Deutsch brews -- the best German beer tastings in the South! Pre-registered designated drivers pay no admissions. The German-American Chamber of Commerce is event host. Look for over 50 fine brews like Krombacher, Albitere, Stuttgarter, Weihenstephen, Beck’s, Weiss Brau, Paulner, Tucer, Erdinger and many, many, many more. 

August 25 – All aboard for the Red Brewery (Private Bus) Tour that heads away from downtown Duluth’s The Best of Brews Growler Shop for two lengthy VIP tour stops and beer tastings at Marietta’s Red Hare Brewing Company and Atlanta’s Red Brick Brewing Company. The bus also does lunch at the Atlanta Food Truck Park on Howell Mill Road. The Red Brewery Tour costs $40 per person, not including lunch. The 50 thirsty beer drinkers depart Duluth at 10:30 a.m., return at 4:30 p.m. Reservations required. Guests arriving at 10 a.m. at The Best of Brews get free coffee and donuts. 

August 25 - Parnam’s Fine Wines & Spirits hosts a California wine tasting at 4-6 p.m. featuring Peirano Estate Vineyards Wines. Admission is $10 per person, with wines and hors d’oeuvres. Parnam’s is in Abernathy Square, the shopping center at the corner of Abernathy and Roswell Roads in Sandy Springs. Their once monthly wine events are held two doors down in Ippolito’s Italian Restaurant. RSVPs requested.

August 25 – An outdoor Gaucho barbecue promises sizzling meats roasting on the patio of Hinton’s Wine Store in Alpharetta. The event is a grand wine tasting called  “The Carne Asada,” which coincides with the Argentinian and Chilean red wines offered through The Wines of Vino del Sol, an importing company. Hinton’s officials said event plans were not fully finalized at press time but guests -- limited to 75 people -- will find Malbecs, Bonardo’s, Carmeneres, Cabernet Sauvignon, and blended reds offered by the importer.  Admission is $15. Reservations needed. 

August 25 – The annual summer Crane Creek Vineyards Tomato Festival kicks-off at Crane Creek, south of Young Harris, from 11 a.m-6 p.m., serving up --what else -- food from the vineyard’s own tomato patch, hayrides, wine tastings, winery tours, and an afternoon of foot-stomping music performed by Cornbread Ted and The Butterbeans. This is a family-friendly event. Children under age 12 are admitted free. Crane Creek’s chef makes bacon/tomato/lettuce sandwiches, Gazpacho soup and for dessert, Green Tomato Pie.  

August 29La Tomatina, that famous tomato throwing festival in Valencia, Spain, is celebrated with a commemorative wine dinner and party beginning at 7 p.m. in the Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant on North Highland Avenue in Inman Park. Guests enjoy a special menu with courses all featuring different heirloom tomatoes. The wines come from Valencia and other Spanish wine regions. Somewhat cryptically, the Barcelona’s website urges guests to “come dressed accordingly…there could be an impromptu tomato fight!”

The article first appeared on Duluth Patch.



































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