Valentine’s Day isn’t just for celebrating romance. It’s also a great chance to celebrate friendships and gal pals in your life, or just to treat yourself. Galentine’s Day is just as fun, I think.
This year for Galentine’s Day, a group of ladies from my work spent the afternoon sampling wine from the DeBarge Urban Winery on the Southside of Chattanooga. I’ll be completely honest, I didn’t even know it was there until the plans were made. But I love visiting wineries, and I was beginning to think there weren’t that many around here. Fortunately that’s not the case. Living in North Carolina had me spoiled, where I had five wineries within 10 miles.
Wine-making started as a hobby for owner Ray DeBarge. In fact, he made his first bottle of wine as a teenager. It eventually grew into a passion that has since evolved into a business that makes many Chattanoogans and visitors happy. The Southside winery has been in operation for four years. They took their time perfecting their wines and starting to distribute; now they’re up and running and ready to make their mark in Chattanooga.
I know what you’re thinking: “But where are the vineyards? Where do they actually grow the grapes to make the wine? Where is there space for a vineyard in town?” That’s in Lafayette, about 45 minutes down the road in North Georgia. The Vineyards grow the grapes and send them up to the Southside winery for wine-making.
DeBarge Winery specializes in drier European-style wines, which is a great contrast to the sweeter wines Southerners are more accustomed to. They offer 12 wines for sampling at a time, including dry whites, dry reds, a dry rosé and semi-sweets. Exact wines and blends vary throughout the year, so you might have a different mix each time you visit.
For $5, visitors can taste four wines of their choosing. Don’t worry, you can do more than one round of tasting. Of the eight wines I sampled, the Chardanooga (Chardonel and Cayuga white blend), Cloudland White (Chardonnay, Vidal Blac and Traminette blend) and Oregon Riesling were my favorites. Can you tell I prefer white wine? I also tried the Brut Rosé and the Ridge Runner semi-sweet red blend. Everything I tasted was wonderful.
If you want to see how the wine is made, DeBarge offers winery tours that take visitors behind the scenes to see wine-making in action, at both the Urban Winery and the vineyards in North Georgia. Both spaces are also available to rent for your next special event. The vineyards look like an amazing spot for a wedding… just saying.
And if you really take a liking to DeBarge’s wines, you can join their Wine Club for all sorts of perks and special deals. Get a shipment of wine delivered to your door once a quarter, free tours, information on exclusive events and more just by becoming a Wine Club member. Sign me up.
Before we left for our next stop, I picked up a bottle of the Chardanooga to enjoy at home. Its crisp fruit tones were too good to pass up. Next time I’ll take a bottle of the Riesling.
This spring, I may have to make a trip to the DeBarge Winery and Vineyards for a picnic. Sounds like a pretty sweet way to spend a spring afternoon. Who’s with me?
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