35 minutes north of Atlanta as throngs of fans roared for Tiger’s comeback 80th win at the Fedex Tour Championship, wise travelers might have heard another roar while enjoying golf, wine and cuisine at Chateau Elan Winery and Resort. The Road Atlanta race track a couple miles away is utilized for a wide variety of events, including professional and amateur sports car and motorcycle races, racing and driving schools, corporate programs and testing for motorsports teams.
Brazelton, Georgia is an unsuspected spot for a French Chateau and fine wines, but visionary Donald Panoz saw the potential when driving by and spotting the muscadine grape vines along the lush hillside. The legendary developer of pharmaceutical capsules and hundreds of patents, along with his wife Nancy, turned their passion for wine into a 3500 acres estate complete with 63 holes of championship golf and a world class spa.
In operation since 1984, Chateau Elan’s Winery and Cellar Door has a stunning entrance and 100-foot mural inside depicting the wine making process. The muscadine grapes native to the red clay soil of Georgia were (and are) nice for sweet tea drinkers but not for all wine enthusiasts. In 2013 winemaker Simone Bergese of Alta, Italy was hired and rocked the Chateau. He seeks the finest grapes in California to import and applies his own vintner techniques. Chateau Elan wines are now amazing and have won the most awards in the Southeast every year since his arrival. Public tours and tastings are well attended as are the many special events noted on the website.
When Don wanted a golf course, he called on Dennis Griffith and as the story goes, restricted him from cutting any trees. Dennis cut a birch, Nancy cried, and Don had Dennis on the phone as the tree hit the ground. He incurred a $1000 penalty. For the 6th green Dennis insisted trees had to be cut. Instead, Don bought 25 acres across the way to avoid chopping. Later when he had the Bermuda grass redone some cutting was permitted.
This year Troon Golf was chosen to manage the golf and food and beverage operations at the Chateau Elan Golf Club. Recently renovated by Blur Workshop – an Atlanta-based architectural firm – Château Élan Golf Club now includes a refreshed front porch and players’ lounge, a newly redesigned golf shop, expanded locker rooms with upgraded finishes and fixtures as well as a new roof, paint and landscaping around the exterior. Tim Yavello is the club manager from Troon North and the Oceans Course in Bahamas.
The Woodlands and Chateau courses run by lakes and through streams. Following April’s Masters in nearby Augusta, raindrops glistened on the petals of pink and white azaleas by the babbling brook of number two. Blooming iris stood tall next to the third tee. Cardinals sing and flash their red wings throughout.
The club’s restaurant has been rebranded as “The Sarazen’s Bar & Grille.” (Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead and Kathy Whitworth recreated their favorite holes to design the private Legends Course). “The Sarazen’s Bar & Grille” now includes a large central bar, an open dining room, an entirely new 1,053 square-foot back porch for outdoor dining overlooking the 18th green, and “backyard” area with lounge seating and fire pits. Don’t be surprised if you run into Falcons and Braves players there.
Dining is a main event at Chateau Elan Winery and Resort. The Cellar Door tasting room is separated by a large curtain that opens to the Marc restaurant. This newly renovated restaurant has a menu focused on southern classics. The Versailles restaurant in the Inn is an open dining room under the glass atrium with daily specials, a Sunday brunch and the very best seafood buffet. Bright red King crab is the focal point and is specially cut by the chefs for easy feasting. If fine dining is not your thing, we suggest Paddy’s Irish Pub on property. Enjoy a full bar and menu specials with live entertainment. Michael Magnum from Atlanta strums and sings the oldies. The whole bar chimes in as if in Ireland.
Villas or rooms at the French styled Inn and at the adjoining Hampton Inn are all elegantly and comfortably equipped for guests. The golf villas are perfect for families and guy/gal golf trips with kitchen, dining area, living room with fireplace and two separate bedrooms each with two beds and private bathrooms. Packages are available for the golf or spa villas. Take advantage of the replay rate or short courses that offer three ways to play under two hours and 15 minutes on the Loop/Legends and Signature Six. Sip, savor and swing away at Chateau Elan Winery and Resort.