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North Georgia Art & Wine Trail

by Anne Jenkins

Main Street Gallery Courtesy of Main St gallery.

When you think of North Georgia what comes to mind? Usually mountains, waterfalls, beautiful vistas, maybe some moonshine and leisurely hikes - but you need to broaden that definition to include wine and art. There's very good art and wine in them thar hills! Plenty of it as well, so to keep things simple this time round I'm sticking to the area around Clayton, the picturesque town nestled on the North Carolina border on Hwy 441.


Don Bundrick loveseat photo courtesy of artist.

The ?I'm in the mountains? feeling comfortably settles in when you get to Tallulah Falls - with it's spectacular natural art! And this is the first stop on the art tour - Tallulah Station is housed in the old train depot and is a good place to start. It houses Idyllwood Gallery, Depot Delights sweet shop and Wild Wood Works studio. Amid fantastic design and noisy saws, self-taught artist, Don Bundrick, takes you in to the world of rustic furniture. He is also a teacher and self-proclaimed promoter of rustic design. He uses the laurel and rhododendron thickets surrounding his home on Tallulah Lake. His work ranges from the whimsical through his use of color and found objects to elegantly rustic with his combinations of bark, stone and metal.
Tiger Winery photo courtesy Camille Ronay

Just about 8 miles North of Tallulah Falls keep a look out for Goats on the Roof (see Wild Roads)- a well known country store - and yep! there really are live goats grazing on the roof. It makes a fun photo op? turn left there and head for Tiger Mountain Winery. This is a very cool winery to visit - not only do they give a tasting of their wine, but once when we visited in the cooler months, they provided a sampling of the most marvelous mushroom soup and gave us the recipe. Pairing wine and food is popular but you don't often get a sample meal to go along with the wine tasting. The winery participates in a number of fun events during the year, e.g. the Spring Wine Highway takes place in March when they join a list of local Georgia wineries in hosting a wine tour and feature local cheeses, produce and music as well. You get to have fun and some pretty good wine to take home with you.

Artists booths line the Main St in historic downtown Clayton GA.
Photo courtesy of Verlen Seipp.

Ellen Cowen Earth Wind
photo courtesy Sally Ross
The historic district of Clayton lies just off the Hwy 441 and everything is in easy walking distance. Anchoring the main street is the venerable Main Street Gallery, a valiant and passionate supporter of folk art for over 25 years, it's worthwhile stopping in Clayton just to visit this gallery - but note it is closed Wednesdays and Sundays, however, if you ask ahead of time they'll try and open for you.

If you are spending some time in the area, you might want to check out The North Georgia Arts Guild. This is an active group of local artists and they hold monthly meetings on the third Thursday of the month at 10 AM at the Old Clayton Inn, 60 South Main Street in Clayton, GA., and you?re sure to find a warm welcome.

A great time to visit the town is the weekend of their Celebrate Clayton festival - this year it is the weekend of April 30 and May 1. Rows of artists booths, fabulous local musicians, especially the bluegrass, keep your feet tapping and food vendors fill up the closed off Main Street and it makes for a delightful day out.

Anne Jenkins Poppies

The quality of the art and fine crafts is usually of a high standard. Noted artists, such as jeweler Ellen Cowne of Madison County, GA., who works mostly in sterling and copper, show there. Her jewelry showcases onyx and lapis beads and the silver is either natural sterling or polished, the copper is sprayed to prevent tarnish. Painter, Anne Jenkins, of Greene County, GA., usually piles on the paint on canvas or wooden panels with a palette knife to create colorful, vibrant work, or she sometimes produces comical folk art on 1895 roof tin tiles.

Renown Georgia photographer, Sally Ross, will be missed this year but hopes to return next year. All the artists will be on hand to talk about their art and sell as much as you can buy.

Bluegrass music keeps your toes tapping at the Celebrate Clayton festival.
Photo courtesy of Verlen Seipp.JPG

A few miles further North is the little hamlet of Dillard with both sides of the streets lined with shops filled to the brim with old stuff - a must stop if you're a junker. You never know, you might just find that Antiques Roadshow moment piece.. Filling the grumble in your tummy is no problem here. The famous Dillards Restaurant is just a couple of miles off the highway and is considered one of the Grand Dames of the South's restaurant world.

There are a whole bunch more artists and hidden jewels - natural art and made-made - in this area - pick up a copy of the latest Georgia Mountain Laurel magazine, free at most stores or the welcome center in Clayton. It's mine of information of what's going on in the area while you are there.

You just need to point the car down the road and go looking for adventure. North Georgia will surprise you - there's delightful small towns to wander around, intriguing history, lovely scenery in relatively uncluttered nature and some good art and wine - go find!


Websites of artists and businesses:

Click to learn about Anne Jenkins

Provided by American Roads Travel Magazine - Visit American Roads Travel Magazine website.

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