Chateau Elan – Winery & Resort by Lisa Poole
It is probably the most recognized wine in Georgia. While winemaking is certainly not Chateau Elan’s “bread and butter,” the resort provides an exceptional food and wine experience that can be combined with other sensory pleasures including spa treatments and night time golf! Chateau Elan provides an enriching and relaxing weekend get-a-way and it is only about an hour’s drive from most of us here in the Metro Atlanta area.
We were expecting a well-mannered but somewhat impersonal experience one might expect from resorts that cater to such a volume of guests every day. What we experienced, however, was anything but impersonal. Join me as I share with you our exceptional overnight stay at Chateau Elan in Part 4 of the Georgia Wine Highway.
Exiting I-85 and passing through the gates of Chateau Elan felt like we were entering the French countryside. On site are approximately 75-acres of maturing vines planted with vinifera, French-American hybrids and Georgia’s own muscadine grape, producing varietals such as: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chambourcin, Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Viognier and some popular muscadine varieties for those with a sweet tooth.
Checking in, we were greeted by David Zerfas, Chateau Elan’s Director of Operations. Mild spoken and attentive, David sees to it that the guests are comfortable and is available to answer any question.
We had reservations for dinner in the Culinary Studio, a hands-on experience where we were able to prepare our own 3-course meal under the direction of the Executive Chef, Marc Susennemann and Sous Chef, Juan Turner. All twelve of us “aspiring chefs” were assigned a cooking station complete with our own chef’s hat, gas burner, unlimited wine pours and all the tools needed to make our own gourmet meal. Iron Chefs?
No. But we did look cute in our hats and sizzled with excitement! Sipping the Scarlett 211, a round and lush Shiraz, we set out preparing our appetizers: Herbed Corn and Lobster Tail Salad. Chef Marc and Chef Juan stood nearby giving step by step instruction on how to prepare the course and tips on presentation. Taking a break to enjoy our creations, we visited with our fellow student “chefs” and found that most were from the metro Atlanta area enjoying a weekend getaway. For most this was a couples experience with the next day bringing spa treatments for the gals and golf for the men. David Zerfas mentioned that they also see many guests enjoying “Mother/Daughter Weekends” or “Girl’s Weekends.”
We were beckoned back to our burners to prepare our entree: Seared Halibut and Smoked Baby Peas with Sweet Potato and Chive Rosettes. Yes, rosettes. We piped our own rosettes. As we enjoyed the Halibut with Chateau Elan’s white wine, Belle 211, Dan and I marveled that we had created such an epicurean delight all by ourselves! Pretty much, anyway. Finally, back to our burners to prepare dessert: Peach Crepes with Spiced Pecans. Of course, we spiced our own pecans! Absolutely delicious!
During this 3 hour dinner experience, we had the personal attention of world class chefs who gladly answered any questions we had. What a great experience.
The next morning, Chateau Elan was abuzz with activity. Several weddings were scheduled. While sipping our coffee and enjoying selections from the extraordinary breakfast buffet, we watched a beautiful young bride descend the curved staircase to meet her groom.
Then it was time to tour the vineyards and meet the winemaker. David Luther, a young, but serious winemaker with a degree in Viticulture and Oenology from UC Davis in California has assumed the role of Director of Winemaking at Chateau Elan. This means he not only directs the winemaking process but also oversees the vineyard. The vines sustained significant damage in the frost of 2007. He is doing a lot of replanting so that in 2 or 3 years you will see a vineyard that is pristine. “There is a lot of potential here to make good wine and my goal is to make the best wine in Georgia. Look for our 2009 Sauvignon Blanc!” We definitely will.Chateau Elan Winery & Resort 100 Rue Charlemagne Braselton, GA 30517 678-425-0900 www.Chateauelan.com About the Author: Lisa Poole, Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators and Owner of The Vine Intervention, lives in Cartersville, Georgia. She conducts wine tasting seminars, both private and corporate, in the metro Atlanta and North Georgia areas. You can visit her website at www.thevineintervention.net or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-689-2549.