Alpine Helen and White County, Georgia
The irrefutable truth is that while the existence of remarkable beauty can be found year-round in many cities and towns, certain seasons serve to amplify unmistakable splendor and vivid imagery. Capturing unspoiled moments as you embrace a journey which has aligned a magnificent land with precise seasonal timing is an experience beyond compare.
Such is the circumstance in Alpine Helen, nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in White County, Georgia. Fall finds Northern Georgia set amongst the glorious tapestry of the heavily forested Blue Ridge Mountains adorned with colors so vivid they could only be the work of Mother Nature. As warm summer days give way to cool crisp evenings, the evidence of a unique appreciation for the earth’s bountiful gifts become apparent. White County residents don’t merely enjoy fall, they celebrate it all season long – and for good reason.
Rich with spectacular history and a cultural foundation established more than a century ago with what is an irrevocable connection to the Cherokee Indians and their sacred burial mounds, the land has proven unfailingly dependable in providing for its inhabitants. Over two centuries ago, gold was found on the Nacoochee River, known at the time as Duke’s Creek, thus initiating the Great Gold Rush of the 1800s. Today gold mining operations are still found along the Tesnatee Creeks and the banks of town in the western portion of the county. In the early 1900s, the first settlers also mined for timber, contributing to what was once a thriving industry.
The passage of centuries has marked time, yet land remains faithful and reliable, certainly worthy of a harvest celebration. The composition of White county’s terroir bears characteristics similar to that of Italy’s Piedmont region, enabling the cultivation and production of distinctive, award-winning vintages. Vineyards and viticulture have become a golden thread woven into the fabric of the community and contributed to the area’s prominence on the Georgia Wine Highway – the route of a touring event offered four times a year by the Winegrowers Association of Georgia. Oenophiles follow the highway visiting a collection of wineries offering tours of their vineyards and samples of some of the most sought after wines to be found. A second opportunity to savor authentic foothill flavor presents itself by way of the incomparable Unicoi Wine Trail – “The Soul of North Georgia Wine Country”. Explore White County’s wineries, tour the vineyards, and relish the delights discovered in the tasting rooms, all in the magnificent natural beauty and outdoor splendor for which the area is known. Gourmet dining perfectly paired with local wines is offered, along with an invitation to stay and unwind.
Meandering roads through the mountains of North Georgia provide a unique vantage point of the towns below and reveal a Bavarian village, easily recognized by its signature red roofs, an unmistakable initial view of Alpine-Helen. Through revitalization, Helen was designed to resemble a town in the Bavarian Alps complete with cobblestone pathways, cozy hotels, and authentic Alpine food and drink. Shortly after being redesigned, Alpine-Helen became known as a tourist capital. Surrounded by the glorious Blue Ridge Mountains, the charming town offers artisan tours, wineries, festivals, and the distinct sense of international travel.
Fall brings Oktoberfest, patterned after the traditional festival from the Bavarian town of Munich. Each year since 1970 Georgia’s most famous Oktoberfest has transformed tranquil Helen into the ultimate party town. The banks of the Chattahoochee River come to life ompah music, polka dancers in native costume, as well as Bavarian bier and cuisine. People come from near and far to enjoy the festival into the wee hours of the morning.
The Blue Ridge Mountains have long been acknowledged for their breathtaking magnificence and iconic representation of the eastern United States; Alpine Helen and White County may offer one of few opportunities to enjoy a European getaway set amongst iconic U.S. scenery.