Downtown Woodstock has been growing by leaps and bounds over the past five to ten years. The food and beverage choices have vastly improved over this time with upwards of ten restaurants. The Woodstock Wine Crawl, organized by Atlanta Wine Tours and sponsored by Theory Salon, was an excellent opportunity to finally try some of the restaurants I haven’t had the chance to before now.
(Note: I did attend the wine crawl for no fee in exchange for writing this post. However, all food and beverage were purchased by me.)
The Atlanta Wine Tours group set-up in the gated courtyard behind Freight Kitchen & Tap. An introductory glass of wine kicked off the experience while guests signed in and received their wristband along with their welcome kit – a koozie, a map, and a chance to win a salon gift basket. Once checked in, guests were free to head out on their own to create their own experience.
I chose to start with Reel Seafood. I made my way through the busy restaurant to an empty seat at the bar. Looking over the special menu offerings, the sweet chili calamari with fried jalapeños caught my eye. Not one to stand on tradition, I chose the Ferrari-Carano Pinot Noir to enjoy with it.
My wine was, of course, served up first. I enjoyed the fruity, bold, and well-balanced pinot noir while visiting with the bartender and a couple who were also on the crawl. My calamari was delivered so I took a break from chatting to tuck in. Fried to perfection, the dish was crisp and tender. The sweet chili sauce balanced nicely with the spice of the peppers. After finishing up and requesting the check, I visited with a pair of ladies who replaced the couple I was chatting with.
I decided to take the advice of the two women I just left and headed next door to Salt Factory Pub. I chose to sit at the bar again, not wanting to take up a full table just for myself. The special menu here was all wine. I chose to go with the Maso Canali Pinot Grigio, a bright and refreshing wine with stone fruit flavors. If I was staying for dinner or a visit with a friend, I might have chosen to have a couple of glasses of this easy drinking wine.
On to Three
My third stop on the Woodstock Wine Crawl was Ice Martini Bar. There weren’t many places to sit when I arrived. Luckily, the manager was able to squeeze a stool onto the end of the bar for me. After settling in, the bartender greeted me and handed over a set of menus. I chose to try the Martini Sampling rather than the wine flight. When in Rome, as they say. The sampling included a selection of three flavors off their martini menu. I chose the Pineapple Upside Down, the Mandarin Heat, and the Grapefruit.
The Pineapple Upside Down was easily my favorite. Made with Three Olives Cake Vodka, pineapple juice, and grenadine, it tasted very much like it’s namesake. The Grapefruit, made with Deep Eddy Grapefruit Vodka, cranberry, and soda, had a very subtle grapefruit flavor. The Mandarin Heat was made with Mandarin Vodka (not sure which brand), lemon juice, simple, cranberry juice, and a jalapeño slice. True to its name, the jalapeño gives a pop of heat to the otherwise light drink.
My next stop took me back to Freight Kitchen & Tap. The restaurant was extremely busy. Fortunately, the staff took the time to pair wines with dishes making the choice fast and easy. Being a fan of shrimp and grits, I decided to try the Shrimp and Grits Fried Won Tons with Charles Krug Sauvignon Blanc. The unique fusion of Asian and Southern was interesting and quite tasty. The wine was the ideal choice, the bright citrus playing off the shrimp nicely.
The final stop on the Woodstock Wine Crawl was Leaning Ladder. Not a restaurant but a retailer for flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars, the space includes an open kitchen where local chefs conduct cooking classes and events. Of all the locations, this seemed to be the most prepared. Chef Melissa Pelkey-Hass was available to talk about the appetizers she prepared and why they paired well with the available wines.
Because it isn’t a restaurant, the vibe was more like a cocktail party. There were people sitting at the bar/island, walking through the store looking at the oils and vinegars, and even sitting outside at the cafe tables. It was so much more intimate than the other locations and was the perfect end to the day.
Whether it’s a restaurant stroll, a bar hop, or a wine crawl, events like the Woodstock Wine Crawl are a fun and affordable way to experience a city. Head over to Culinary Local or Atlanta Wine Tours for upcoming events in the Metro Atlanta area.