Georgia Grown: Tiger Mountain Vineyards


What: Tiger Mountain Vineyards

Where: Tiger,Georgia

Who: John & Martha Ezzard

The Story: In 1995, John and Martha Ezzard, doctor and lawyer respectively, changed their careers and lifestyles to return to John’s birthplace, a 100 -acre farm in Rabun County to a piece of land that Martha says “is part of John’s soul.” john-and-martha-231People ask if they had always dreamt of having a vineyard, but John says no –they “wanted to save a special piece of earth.” Because the land had always been cultivated, they wanted to grow something –so he stumbled upon wine grapes! John and Martha put the first 1,500 plants in the ground with their own two hands in 1995 and then peddled their first wines out of the back of an SUV all over the state. Less than 10 years later, Tiger Mountain Wine has won more than 170 medals, including a double gold and best of class for its Petit Manseng in the Los Angeles International Competition! Their wines are served in top Atlanta restaurants and can be found in Georgia Fresh Markets in Georgia as well as in Metro Atlanta Whole Foods stores.

grapes You can tour the vineyard & taste delicious Tiger Mountain Wine at Tiger Mountain Vineyards in Tiger, Georgia.

Martha’s book “The Second Bud,” a memoir about planting a wine grape vineyard to save a family farm, will be published by Mercer University Press in the the fall of 2013.

541399_4742061705632_1593506690_nLauren Cleland is the voice of Explore Georgia on social media. She loves ice cold sweet tea, anything peach flavored, channeling Scarlett O’Hara in her daily life and sharing the wonders of her beloved Georgia with all of you!

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View from Southern Union County looking toward Brasstown Bald. Photo by Scott Michael Anna. Submitted via Facebook.

View from Southern Union County looking toward Brasstown Bald. Photo by Scott Michael Anna. Submitted via Facebook.

Marietta, Georgia. Photo by Bret Landry. Submitted via Flickr.

Marietta, Georgia. Photo by Brett Landry. Submitted via Flickr.

Lake Acworth in Acworth, Georgia. Photo by @kayakjeff7. Submitted via Instagram.

Lake Acworth in Acworth, Georgia. Photo by @kayakjeff7. Submitted via Instagram.

Civil War Wednesday: Rome, Georgia


Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest

In April 1863, the Federal forces set their sights on destroying the main line of supply for Confederate General Braxton Bragg’s army – the Western & Atlantic Railroad. Colonel Abel Streight developed a raiding plan, whereby his troopers, mounted on mules, would traverse the rugged terrain from their launch point near Eastport, Alabama. Once on the trail, the Federals would head toward Dalton, Georgia, where they planned to sever Bragg’s rail supply out of Atlanta. Brigadier General Grenville Dodge received orders to cooperate with Streight; his role consisting of a feint toward Tuscumbia, Alabama in an effort to attract the attention of Confederate forces in the region. Unfortunately, for these soldiers, they attracted the attention of Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Streight and company corralled their 1,250 mounts, mostly mules, near Eastport, Alabama. As the blue-clad soldiers slept soundly in their tents, Southern soldiers approached the camp, opened the gates to the stockade, and released the Federal’s hooved transportation. Two days later, Streight’s men had collected most of the strays and resumed their trek eastward. On April 29, Forrest turned his sights from Dodge and began his pursuit of Streight. The quick riding Confederate horsemen closed the Federal lead, and on April 30, Forrest struck the rear of Streight’s force at Day’s Gap. Forrest’s command suffered 65 casualties, the general’s brother William among the wounded, but perhaps the biggest blow to the Southern effort occurred when the Federals captured two of Forrest’s artillery pieces. The rather incensed chieftain issued direct orders to his force. “Whenever you see anything blue, shoot at it, and do all you can to keep up the scare.”[1]

Colonel Abel Streight

Colonel Abel Streight

Riding vigorously, the Southern troopers continued the chase, and made rapid progress until encountering the Black Creek, where they found the lone bridge spanning the stream destroyed. Thanks to the efforts of a local resident, young Ema Samsom, who saddled up behind Forrest and took him to a nearby crossing, the chase quickly resumed. As the Northern troops neared the confines of Rome, they began to tire. Miles of bone jarring time in the mule-saddles, having missed several meals, and the constant harassment received from Forrest and company began to take a toll. Skirmishing outside Gadsden, Alabama resulted in the mortal wounding of Colonel Gilbert Hathaway, further dampening the spirits of Streight’s raiders. The blue-clad troopers continued to close the gap on Rome, since Forrest’s screening of their right flank had diverted their path away from the original target of Dalton. John Wisdom, a mail carrier and former Rome resident, spotted the Yankee troopers, and rode for several hours to alert the citizens of his hometown of the approaching Federal force.

The citizens of Rome rallied into action, rushed to guard the bridge providing access to the city, and started constructing barricades along the main road. Streight’s men had had enough, and they pleaded with their colonel to surrender, an action Streight refused until afforded the opportunity to ascertain the actual strength of the Southern force. Forrest complied, and in yet another of his many brilliant ruses of the war, successfully fooled his Northern opponent into thinking his numbers far superior than the 600 or so soldiers remaining.[2] Forrest orchestrated a creative parading of the same troops and the deployment and redeployment of the same artillery pieces, until finally, Streight, in an exasperated manner exclaimed, “Name of God! How many guns have you got? There’s fifteen I’ve counted already.” [3] After Streight surrendered his army on May 3, he learned the actual numbers Forrest fielded against him and proceeded to demand a retraction of his surrender and the resumption of fighting. Forrest responded, as only the “Wizard of the Saddle” could, “Ah, Colonel, all is fair in love and war you know.”[4]

In a post-war account of the raid, a member of Streight’s party commented on the actions of Forrest during the campaign. He praised the Southern cavalryman when noting, “His movements were timed as if he knew the object of Streight’s expedition, and he could not have moved more certainly to thwart it if he had seen a copy of General Rosecrans’ order.”[5] The Rome Courier editors captured the thoughts of many in the city in penning a headline for an article recounting the raid and capture – “Great Victory! Great Joy! The Yankees in Rome at Last.”[6]

[1] Brian Steel Wills, The Confederacy’s Greatest Cavalryman: Nathan Bedford Forrest (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1992), 113.

[2] Brian Steel Wills.

[3] Ibid., 119.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Gilbert C. Kniffin, “Streight’s Raid Through Tennessee and Northern Georgia in 1863,” in Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States War Papers, District of Columbia, reprint 1887-1915 ed. (Wilmington, NC: Broadfoot Publishing, 1998).

[6] Rome Courier, “Great Victory! Great Joy!,” Confederate Union, May 12, 1863. (accessed March 12, 2013).

ms2Michael K. Shaffer is the Assistant Director and Lecturer for Kennesaw State University’s Civil War Center. He is a Civil War historian, author, and newspaper columnist, and a member of the Society of Civil War Historians. He serves on the boards of the Civil War Round Table of Cobb County and the River Line Historic Area, and assists the Friends of Camp McDonald as a Civil War consultant.

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A Guide to Georgia’s Homestyle Restaurants

The Dillard House

The Dillard House

For Breakfast

Not all homestyle restaurants in Georgia serve breakfast, but when you’re looking for the combination of the two, you’ll need to visit the Dillard House in Dillard. The Dillard House serves up a bountiful breakfast of meats, eggs, potato hash, fresh fruits, homemade preserves, freshly baked pastries and so much more. My favorites are the proteins, and I always have to have seconds of the pork tenderloin. The Dillard House is one of those “food for the soul” kinds of places, and besides breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so start your day right by feeding your soul well here. Go with high expectations because you’re sure not to be disappointed.


Buckner’s Family Restaurant

For Fried Chicken and Dessert

One common menu item at all homestyle restaurants in the South is fried chicken. I doubt it’s written law that they have to have fried chicken (and lots of it) on the table, but I’m pretty sure it’s understood. Believe me, I’ve eaten a lot of fried chicken at a lot of great restaurants, but the best fried chicken I’ve eaten in Georgia to date is at Buckner’s in Jackson. Buckner’s is just off I-75 exit 201, and they serve up some of the most delicious Southern classics you can find. While normally I’d go for a leg or thigh, you’ll only find breast on the table at Buckner’s. Breast meat tends to be dry, but Buckner’s keeps its white meat juicy, tender and perfectly crispy. There’s a slight sweetness to it that I’ve not found duplicated anywhere else in Georgia. To top it all off, their dessert is fantastic, too. They only serve one dessert, but they do it right. Buckner’s Georgia peach cobbler is the perfect finish to one tasty meal.

Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room

Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room

For Sides

You can expect a wide array of incredible veggies and carbs at the homestyle table, but no one cooks sides as well as Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room in Savannah. Mrs. Wilkes’ showcases all sorts of fresh veggies like green beans, rutabagas, butter beans, peas and more. They’re even getting cornbread dressing right; it’s incredibly moist and super delicious. Mrs. Wilkes’ cabbage was some of the finest I’ve ever eaten. This homestyle restaurant is one of those places where you could definitely fill up on sides alone. Expect to wait in line for up to a couple of hours, but you and your taste buds will be glad you did.

For Extras

Once you’ve had the best breakfast, the best chicken and dessert, and the best sides, what’s left on the table? Well, the Smith House in Dahlonega is taking the table extras to a whole new level. You’re going to consistently get great chicken, great sides and dessert, but you’re also going to get some great extras. One of my favorite accompaniments to Southern fare is relishes and pickles. The Smith house makes and serves up the best pickled squash you’ll find. It perfectly pairs with the savory veggies and offers a slightly tangy, sweet crunch that you just can’t find elsewhere. You’ll want to take some home, too. Look in the gift shop before you leave to make sure you can have this “secret” treasure at your home table.

Head shotLori Hennesy is a self-proclaimed foodie and author of, a Georgia only food blog.  Lori is on a constant search for unique eats, great Georgia products, delicious restaurants and anything food related.  For Lori it’s all about the bottom line, “what’s the next meal going to be?”  

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Thomasville, Georgia by Mike Bass. Submitted via Facebook.

Thomasville, Georgia by Mike Bass. Submitted via Facebook.

Forsyth Park in Savannah Georgia, Photo by @Jeffersonross. Submitted via Instagram.

Forsyth Park in Savannah Georgia, Photo by @Jeffersonross. Submitted via Instagram.


Lake Blackshear in Cordele, Georgia. Photo by Randell Meeks. Submitted via Flickr.