Chateau Elan Winery and Resort
Thirty-five years ago, visionary Donald Panoz saw potential when driving by Brazelton, Georgia, an unsuspected spot for a French Chateau and fine wine . Spotting 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 resort complete with 63 holes of championship golf and a world class spa.
When Don wanted the golf course built, he called on Dennis Griffith and as the story goes, restricted him from cutting any trees. When Dennis did cut a birch, Nancy cried, and Don had Dennis on the phone as the tree hit the ground, penalizing him with $1000. For the 6th green Dennis insisted that trees must be cut. Instead, Don bought 25 acres across the way to avoid chopping. Later when he had the Bermuda grass redone some cutting concessions were allowed.
The Woodlands and Chateau courses flow through the forests, 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 sang and flashed their red wings throughout.
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, hailing from our local Troon North and the Oceans Course in Bahamas.
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 up the road). “The Sarazen’s Bar & Grille” 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 taking breaks there.
The entrance to Chateau Elan’s Winery and Cellar Door is stunning. A 100-foot mural inside depicts 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.
Dining is a main event at Chateau Elan Winery and Resort. A large curtain separates The Cellar Door tasting room, leading to the Marc restaurant. Newly renovated, the menu focuses 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 sprawled over ice 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 might strum and sing the oldies as 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 appointed for guests. Golf villas along the course rule for foursomes, equipped with kitchen, dining, living room, fireplace and two separate bedrooms each with two beds and private bathrooms. 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. 50 minutes north of Atlanta and 2+ hours from the roar of the Masters, wise travelers might hear another roar while golfing at Chateau Elan Winery and Resort. The Road Atlanta race track a couple miles away serves a wide variety of professional and amateur events for more entertainment.
Sip, savor and swing away at Chateau Elan Winery and Resort. www.chateauelan.com