Chef David Sanford – Crane Creek Vineyards

Chef David Sanford – Crane Creek Vineyards: On our visit to Crane Creek Vineyards we met and talked to Chef David Sanford who is excited about working at the vineyard. I love to talk to chefs with a passion, and I could sense that David had found his calling in the north Georgia Mountains.

Chef David Sanford – Crane Creek Vineyards

Mountain Mist-Chef

Up-and-Coming Chefs in the North Georgia Mountains

by David G. Darugh[1]

The North Georgia mountains have been known for moonshine, agriculture, traditional values and a broad spectrum of geologic and cultural riches. These assets remain, but their impact is changing as visitors are now associating the North Georgia Mountains with beautiful new wineries, fabulous dining, luxury resorts and the abundance of wonderful fresh and local products. Of course, you can still find a mason jar of good ‘shine if you know who to ask.

This perspective has not been lost on Georgia’s grape-growers. One of the first to appreciate and understand the association of wine and culinary tourism was Eric Seifarth, founder of Crane Creek Vineyards near Young Harris, Georgia, just a stone’s throw from North Carolina. Owner Eric Seifarth has a spectacular pastoral setting with a view of Brasstown Bald, Georgia’s highest peak.

On our visit to Crane Creek Vineyards we met and talked to Chef David Sanford who is excited about working at the vineyard. I love to talk to chefs with a passion, and I could sense that David had found his calling in the north Georgia Mountains.

David is not classically trained in culinary arts. He started his career in marketing, and traveled the world on business and was exposed to many wonderful cuisines. He heard the calling and joined a catering company in Atlanta known as “Rich Bits.” While starting only part-time, over the course of the next 15 years he left his white collar job and became a full-time partner in the catering firm. He served as a private chef and did many large private events. One evening a catering event brought him to Crane Creek Vineyards. Eric Seifarth was so pleased with the dinner that he started hiring David for more and more events. Finally, David sold his interest in the catering firm and took up residence at Crane Creek Vineyards. He lives on-site in a small farm house, and is studying viticulture, winemaking and hospitality management and could not be more thrilled.

David is committed to using as many fresh and local sources as possible. This includes local beef from “Holy Cow,” local produce and dairy. According to David the perfect complement to Crane Creek’s vineyards and winery is their culinary garden. The Garden features antique specimens and heirloom cultivars, all grown with 100% organic farming principles. Each month, throughout the growing season, new and delicious offerings from the gardens find their way to the dinner tables. In addition, there is a small apple orchard providing a wide variety of heirloom and antique North Georgia apple varieties, some of them being quite rare. Each fall this bounty of apples is transformed into pies, cider, and other tasty offerings for vineyard guests. Finally, David adds, “our small flock of free range chickens and Guinea hens, supply a steady supply of farm fresh eggs, and round out our sideline agricultural activities.”

Eric and David have started Crane Creek Café which offers Prixe Fixe seasonal dinners on Fridays, and “stimulus package” Soup Kitchen Saturdays. Once a month David offers farmer’s Pasta Dinners. Crane Creek also hosts weddings, receptions and offers private dinners for large or small groups. Their dining room is an inviting patio under the sky adjacent to the vineyard with views of the pond and the mountains. I love Al Fresco dining.

Now home in the North Georgia Mountains, he has found his bliss. He said that restaurant business is one of the most lethal operations to be in, so he and Eric Seifarth are growing their food service slowly and cautiously but with a goal of opening a full service restaurant. So – if your senses are craving dining under the stars with a walk through the vineyard we’ll meet at Crane Creek Vineyards.

Chef David Sanford – Crane Creek Vineyards

http://www.cranecreekvineyards.com/