Accent Cellars was founded on the principle of bringing people together around good friends, family, and a great experience. Accent is a true family business founded by husband and wife, Tristen and Katie Vanhoff, and brother Tyler Barnes. Together Tristen and Tyler craft the wines, while Katie creates the amazing high-end artwork that brightens up the walls of Accent’s chic urban tasting room. After spending time with Tyler, I would refer to him as Dr. Wine. If you spend a few minutes with him, you cannot help but learn about grapes, wine, wine tasting, the wine business, and wine in north Georgia. His humor and ability to explain the complexities of everything about wine in a fashion as easy to digest as the delicious wines he serves.
Tristen Vanhoff, a co-founder of Accent Cellars, is from Australia, and being a wine connoisseur and formally trained in winemaking, shared the wine business bug with Tyler, who at the time had no intentions of starting a business, much less a wine business. Tristen completed an internship in Sonoma County, California, and culminated the experience by making 120 cases (five barrels) of a super-premium Syrah which would begin the wine-selling process for the entrepreneurs. You can see one of those barrels displayed in the tasting room serving as a stand for Katie’s beautiful prints which are available for purchase.
Building a business, like making great wine, takes time and hard work. While Tristen served as Montaluce Winery’s tasting-room manager and head winemaker, he brought Tyler on staff as his assistant winemaker, even though Tyler had not bought a single bottle of wine prior to the experience. Tyler was a quick learner and pursued educational opportunities and experiences to develop as a winemaker. Together, Tristen, Tyler, and the whole family embarked on finding the right spot for their new winery. They found acreage that had an old house in need of a total redo, and after 18 months transformed it into a chic, urban tasting room that opened in 2017.
One of Georgia farm wineries’ notable qualities is that each brings a uniqueness to the farm wine table and builds upon one another’s strengths to make the industry successful. Accent Cellars sets itself apart from its neighbors by focusing on winemaking and selecting grapes from Georgia, California, Texas, and Washington. Tyler shared that his passion is in the winemaking side of the business. He enjoys the complexities and nuances of making unique wines in the region. My wife and I enjoyed several new wines that we may have missed due to our penchant for the familiar!
The sparkling apple wine, Insider, totally surprised us in its delicious sparkling wine style. We felt we were drinking a delicious Champagne, though we were not in the Champagne region of France!
Another pleasant surprise was the Blanc du Bois, a white wine made with a hybrid grape varietal known for its crisp, floral, citrus flavors. This grape was grown in Trion, GA and described as an obscure grape skin-fermented like a red wine. Through the fermentation process similar to an “orange” wine, it has a body like an orange essential oil, but does not carry an orange flavor. You just have to try it to better describe it.
Are you a fan of wine spritzers? Well, let’s just say, Accent Cellar’s Nomad Red wine is fantastic! This is not your Mother’s Seagram’s wine cooler. It is more complex with an effervescence that makes it delicious!
Hands down, my wife’s absolute favorite (made for the best Valentine gift) was the Underdog. By no means is this delectable off-dry wine an underdog! Do any of you remember a Lifesaver called Black Sour Cherry? I used to buy these at the movie theater in the ’70s and ’80s (I know I date myself) and enjoyed the sweet-tart cherry delight. This wine is simply amazing and has all the delicious traits of my favorite candy in an adult beverage style! My wife has told me that I can always bring her this wine as a present for any occasion! It will pair well with our Valentine steak dinner.
If you want to enjoy a lovely wine experience and take away some new and interesting education about wine, visit Accent Cellars. Tyler aims for every visitor to leave having learned more about wine and the experience than they knew when they arrived. He shares his passion for wine and believes there is no “dumb question.” He desires that everyone is enthusiastic and comfortable in the wine experience. My wife and I especially enjoyed Tyler’s instruction about how to really “swirl” the wine and left understanding the “why?” behind the swirl!
Tyler’s tip on tasting wine: Smell it, set your glass down and swirl vigorously on the counter. Swirling does two things. It forces air down into the wine, and the wineglass “chops up” the flavors resulting in intensified flavors of the wine. He says do not worry about the wine glass, that is what it was made to do.
The atmosphere is amazing! My wife and I loved the design and detail of the urban tasting room filled with Katie and her brother’s artwork. You get a gallery-type experience. The combination of nature and art leaves you wanting more. Understandably, Accent Cellars is rated 5 Stars on Google.
Future plans at Accent: expand the deck which has a beautiful view of Cane Creek. After that, clear more of the property to make a larger outside space including a bocci ball court. The final phase will be a larger tasting room.
You can find Accent Cellars on Facebook and Instagram.
You can enjoy a glass or bottle of wine during tasting room hours. For a tasting and to get Dr. Wine’s presentation you need to schedule a tasting reservation. Tyler is quite the entertainer and so knowledgeable about his craft.
Address: 215 Auraria Road, Dahlonega, GA
Tasting room hours: Sun.-Fri., noon-6 p.m. Sat., 11 a.m.-7 p.m.