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Weekend wine event takes enthusiasts on a tasty tour
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Marlene Eck, owner of Burton Gallery and Emporium in Clarkesville, describes the "pulp painting" technique used by artist Cherry Cratty.

Wine lovers, as well as those new to the art of wine tasting, can enjoy the fruits of local vineyards this weekend during the Wine Highway Weekend.

This annual event celebrates the latest vintages released to the public, and also includes special events and discounts at art galleries, local shops, restaurants and inns.

Participants pay $20 wherever they start on the tour — anywhere from Chateau Elan in Braselton to Tiger Mountain Vineyards in Tiger — and receive a special glass that gives them admission to all wineries and allows them to bypass the normal tasting fees.

David Harris, owner at Blackstock Vineyards, said they will have six new wines to offer guests, including some newly released 2005 reds.

Although the vines aren’t brimming with fruit at this time of year — in fact, they more resemble piles of sticks at this time of year rather than proper vines — it’s the introduction of the newly bottled wine that’s the attraction, Harris said.

"You don’t see a lot of visitation over the winter months, so this is kind of bud break for the vines, too," he said. "Most of the people who are coming in are tasting our wines for the first time."

Blackstock will also offer live music on their deck throughout the weekend, and lunch is available.

But the weekend events aren’t limited to vineyards.

Stores selling anything from gourmet food, outdoor art and pottery also have special events planned. Some offer music and open house events while others have their own wine tastings or offer discounts.

Marlene Eck, owner of Burton Gallery and Emporium in Clarkesville, said she will have several special pieces on display inspired by area wineries. And her pieces by local artist Cherry Cratty, done in her own "pulp painting" style, are especially unique.

"The Wine Highway follows up Scenic Ga. 197, so if people are going from, say, Blackstock or Habersham (Vineyards & Winery) and are going to Tiger Mountain or Persimmon (Creek Vineyards), they are coming our way," Eck said.

Regional events