My husband and I lived in Atlanta several years ago. We drove by AAA Four Diamond-rated Chateau Elan Winery & Resort countless times during road trips home to visit family. Every single drive we’d comment on what a beautiful resort it was. We followed that up with how we needed to plan a visit soon. After 20 plus years, we finally turned our “We should go” into “We’re doing this!”
Chateau Elan is situated in the Georgia foothills about 45 miles northeast of Atlanta. After sampling locally produced muscadine wine, Donald and Nancy Panoz were inspired to grow their own. They opened the winery in 1981. It was the region’s first to be established after Prohibition.
The property is modeled from a 16th-century country estate in France’s Loire Valley. When you’re here, it’s easy to feel completely transported to another place. Explore the 3,500 acres of rolling hills, wooded trails and private roads on bike or foot. You’ll feel as if you’re on your own personal estate, complete with 35 acres of vineyards.
I didn’t believe Chateau Elan could be any lovelier. However, a recent $25 million renovation (to be completed by the end of this year) proved me wrong. An upgrade of this magnitude hasn’t been done in Chateau Elan’s 35-year history. The resort partnered with Atlanta-based interior and architectural design firm, Blur Workshop. That partnership yielded impressive results. Standouts include the stunning custom-crafted glass chandelier that graces the Atrium. It was hand-blown in the Czech Republic and is the ultimate statement piece.
Also on the renovation list was a complete revamp of the resort’s 251 guest rooms and 24 suites. Our king room was ideal — plush bedding, dark woods, modern furnishings and upscale art. It’s a perfect marriage of a charming French estate and contemporary southern design.
Other improvements include the addition of Le Petit Café to the hotel lobby. Here you can enjoy specialty espresso and coffee drinks, as well as fresh pastries and sandwiches. Varied local craft beers are available and, of course, wine.
Catch the game and enjoy a drink at Louis’ House of Bourbon. Your grandfather’s sports bar got a serious upgrade. A speakeasy spin on a classic sports bar, Louis’ serves up an extensive list of bourbons, wine, beer and crafted cocktails. Nosh on elevated pub fare and enjoy live music on the weekends.
I don’t golf. However, lunch at Sarazen’s Bar & Grille made me want to consider taking it up. The restaurant is located inside the Chateau Elan Golf Club. Grab a seat on the open-air porch overlooking the 18th green. The menu features refreshing cocktails like the John Daly, Under par – Earl Gray infused vodka, blueberries, lemon and agave. Other stand-outs include the Braselton Tonic, made with Empress gin, Jack Rudy elderflower, quinine, club soda and mint.
I recommend the veggie wrap (lettuce, tomato, onion, spinach, artichoke, mushrooms, peppers and Sarazen sauce in a flour tortilla). My husband was extremely pleased with his order of the mahi mahi tacos, too.
Our dinner at Marc Bar & Restaurant was on point. Located on the inside of the winery, the restaurant is open and airy with fantastic vineyard views. The menu boasts seasonally-focused offerings and craft cocktails. I savored their sautéed gourmet mushrooms, grilled broccolini and leek whipped potatoes. And the fresh bread with a homemade butter spread of Aleppo pepper, tomatoes, chives and honey is worth every. Single. Carb.
In addition to our meal at Marc Bar & Restaurant, we capped off one evening at Paddy’s Irish Pub. All of the furnishings and fixtures were created in Ireland, then shipped over to Chateau Elan in 1997 and reassembled. Ireland has long been on my bucket list. The ambiance in Paddy’s made me crave an Emerald Isle vacation in the best way possible. Their dill pickle fries were next level. I was disappointed with myself that I didn’t save room for their Irish Whiskey Bread Pudding, though.
You can’t visit a resort and winery without experiencing the winery. I mean, you could, but I wouldn’t advise it — especially not here. Muscadine grapes are harvested on property. All other varietals provided by partner vineyards in other regions.
We sampled a nice selection of wines from the Premium Flight tasting menu. My favorites were the Pinot Grigio Reserve, Summer Wine, Pinot Noir Reserve and the Scarlet Reserve. Our wine steward, Sujith, was knowledgeable and lots of fun to talk with. After our tasting, we relaxed on the front lawn of the winery watching families play cornhole and couples take their selfies in front of the fountain. The fountain features a beautiful bronze statue of a woman stomping grapes. It’s the perfect addition to your Instagram feed.
With four golf courses, tennis courts (clay and traditional courts), an immersive spa and varied epicurean activities, Chateau Elan Winery & Resort provides something for every visitor. It’s perfect for a girls’ getaway, a couple’s retreat or a solo sabbatical.
Do you have a favorite road trip destination? I’d love to hear about it! Email me at GoWithGo@AAACarolinas.com.
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