Who says a vacation has to be expensive, or far? Not me. In fact, I think inexpensive vacations are the best – easier on the wallet and the conscience.

This year for my birthday I decided to do something different. I knew I wanted a cabin experience in the mountains because I was in serious need of some quiet. After about a 15 minute search on Google that led me to a Living Social deal for a 3-night stay at Paradise Hills Resort in Blairsville, GA I was pretty much sold.

My birthday fell on a Monday, and I’d only taken off work Monday and Tuesday, but the deal was valid for stays Sunday through Thursday only. After speaking with Matthew and asking several questions comparing their current Girlfriend Getaway special with the Living Social deal, I decided the Living Social deal was actually perfect. I would check out Tuesday, but because checkout is at 11, having the third “night” meant we could roll out of bed whenever we wanted to and take our time getting back on the road. Matthew, by the way, was an exceptionally pleasant and patient employee. I probably called three times to ask multiple questions before actually booking, and each time was like the first. I’m a sucker for customer service. It can make or break my decision to do many things. After my experience with Matthew on the phone, he was the primary reason I didn’t want to book a stay anywhere else.

But what I’d found after searching their “Events” calendar was I was going to be coming in town for a weekend wine tour – it was Perfect! I hadn’t even heard about the Georgia Wine Highway before, but I had a feeling mountains, cabin seclusion, and wine tastings was going to be the perfect combination.

What I learned, more so from my wine talks with the local winemakers on our tour, was for some time now (no one seemed to know definitively how long this has been going for – some say about 5 years; others mentioned this could be the 7th year) the Winegrowers Association of Georgia have teamed up with winemakers in north Georgia in several cities to create a wine-highway-tour. For $40 per person you get to visit 20 wineries to sample their wine (and of course purchase the ones you fell in love with). Each winery has 4-6 wine options you can taste, which they follow up with by giving you a brief history of the selection and suggested food pairings.highway

I had such a great time!!!

We packed up the dog, grabbed some groceries from the store, and took a short little drive (about an hour and 45 minutes) up to the north Georgia mountains.

I was getting more and more antsy as we neared our resort. The winding roads of Blood Mountain are not for the novice driver. It had started drizzling a bit as we got closer, which began to shift my mood. I’m a sunshine lover. I know rain serves its purpose too, but I didn’t want that while I was driving.

When we turned into Paradis Hills resort, I couldn’t help but feel calmer. The little town Blairsville was quiet, lush with trees, and inviting. Paradise Hills fit in nicely.

When we entered, we were greeted by… guess who! Matthew! I was so happy to meet him in person. Any anxiety I’d felt instantly melted away. Especially when we purchased our wine passports! passports

You can hit the highway in any way you prefer, but to maximize time and also not get too far so we could check-in when the cabin was ready we decided to head north, to Crane Creek Vineyards. crane creek

Champ had been in the car for the majority of the time (he’d gotten out to potty and stretch his legs during our stops to the store and for gas), so what I loved about Crane Creek is the land was huge and they had a beautiful black lab who greeted you on the porch. They said Champ could run around – leash free, which just made my day. We took our bottle of purchased wine to their dock and just let nature do its work. I was so at peace. My soul was happy. “This trip is going to be perfect,” I remember saying. And it was.dockdock2

After hopping over to Young Harris – the college town – we were back off to Blairsville.

Back at Paradise Hills we chatted it up with Amy – our cool, friendly wine professional, while we waited to get our check-in details.

We were assigned to Bear’s Paw, a one-bedroom cabin just up the hill from the main building. Bear’s Paw comes with a covered porch, full kitchenette, fireplace, bathroom with jet tub, separate bathroom with the toilet, and a loft-style setup that leads to the bed. The wine and woodsy decor were artfully constructed. The cabin was spacious and efficient. I walked around beaming. So much so I forgot to take pictures! (I’m new at this blog-your-life thing. I’ll do better. Promise!)

The view from our cabin of the mountains was breathtaking. Amazing how much peace that quiet, simplicity, and air bring you. lookout

I didn’t want to leave. We’d do more wine highway the next day. I whipped up some vegan-friendly food, and had, of course, more wine. The kitchen had everything I needed. I’m glad I decided to bring my favorite, no-fail spices: garlic powder, chilli pepper flakes, Himalayan salt, pepper, smoked chipotle, oregano and olive oil. It also helped that we grabbed my savory cooking staples – onion, bell pepper, and a garlic bundle. So I knew we’d be good, food-wise. We also, fortunately, grabbed some snack foods, that I typically don’t do, but with wine you must be sure to eat and stay hydrated, so some bottled water and pretzels came in handy many times.

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The next day, Monday, was my birthday. I think it’s safe to say I was tipsy the entire time!  We ran into some fellow wine highwayers who were wearing these cool wine glass holders around their necks and thought “How cool!” I mean, who wants to bother with remembering to hold their wine glass?

I thoroughly enjoyed that day! And the best part about it being your birthday is folks are always so generous and happy to please on your special day. I received a couple extra pours from several places – happy times!

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You don’t have to purchase the wine you taste, but after several tastings you’re bound to fall in love with at least one. No really! Bottles ranged in price, depending on the winery. The least expensive bottle I recall trying was somewhere in Cleveland, I believe at Habersham, at about $14 for their muscadine wine – which was insanely sweet! If you don’t like sweet wine, you probably won’t like it. I was open to trying everything! The most expensive wine was definitely at Yonah’s Mountain. Yonah’s property was nothing short of beautiful. The young lady who assisted us there said they often have weddings booked out for months, and I could see why! The land was enormous, but exqusitely desinged. Their most expensive wine I tasted was priced at about $65.

The next day we visited the lake for some fishing, had more wine, and just took in the sights. The rain from the night before – which was probably the most theraputic storm I’ve ever had in my life – made the ground very wet, but the roads were clear since everyone was at work.lake

I can’t express how amazing the trip was. I wish I’d documented more. But I was too busy taking it all in and enjoying. For just under $350 (excluding wine purchases), this past weekend getaway was just what I needed to reset. If you’re local to Atlanta and love wine

If you’re local to Atlanta and love wine, you should check out the wine highway week. It occurs once a year, and features all the wineries and their unique product. pour wine

If you’re local to Atlanta or it’s surrounding area, I encourage you to explore the mountains around you. You’d be surprised how calm and satisfied you feel.

We saved a lot of money by buying groceries and cooking on-sight. I’d recommend doing that so you can really cut down on driving around those winding roads after dark. Since going vegan I’m more a fan of eating home-cooked meals anyway. It was darn near unheard of to not eat meat up there in the mountains!

If you are looking for a cabin experience, I highly recommend Paradise Hills. Their staff are friendly, professional, and resourceful. The property is wholly scenic and sufficient. You can feel the effort of their passion in every detail. Our cabin did not include a hot tub, but there are some that do. They also offer larger cabins for biggere groups. The cabins are pet-friendly – a huge sell for me – and rent pet crates for a flat fee of $10 if you do not have your own.

Overall, the experience was incredible. The Wine Highway Week tour was a pleasant, opportune surprise. I’m sure I would have enjoyed the getaway without it, but, let’s face it, nonstop wine in any situation makes it a winner!

Just some more pics we snapped. Like I said, I’ve got some practicing to do with capturing moments!

Cheers to 32! Thanks for reading!