Uncorked: Wine, dine and stay in style in the ‘middle of nowhere’
by Pat Kettles
Special to the Star
May 14, 2013 | 2944 views |  0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Farmlinks Golf Club at Pursell Farms in Sylacauga serves as the backdrop to the venue’s inaugural Vine & Dine weekend later this month. Submitted photo.
Farmlinks Golf Club at Pursell Farms in Sylacauga serves as the backdrop to the venue’s inaugural Vine & Dine weekend later this month. Submitted photo.
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Those wanting to immerse themselves in an intense educational wine experience, a casual wine seminar or dinner with a wine expert need not travel to California or Bordeaux.

The Southeast offers an array of regional wine events, including some old stalwarts like The New Orleans Wine and Food Experience May 22-25, Nashville’s l’Ete du Vin July 17-20, and The Atlanta Food & Wine Festival May 30-June 2. For a full listing of scheduled events for each of these venues, visit their websites.

The New Orleans bacchanalia is a laid back party scene. L’Ete du Vin attracts the glitterati of the wine business, including proprietors of Bordeaux first growths, while Atlanta’s festival packs in tons of events focused on Southern cuisine and its accompanying libations.

Closer to home is the inaugural wine event at Pursell Farms. Pursell Farms Vine & Dine runs on two concurrent nights, May 24 and 25. Each night includes an overnight stay and use of the facilities that spill out over 3,500 acres in the “middle of nowhere” — the owner’s description, not mine.

Perhaps if a golfer, I would have previously known about this critically acclaimed spot. Pursell Farms is home to Farmlinks Golf Club and Farmlinks Golf Academy, which is overseen by master golf instructor Layne Savoie who has more than 25 years experience. The golf course was designed by Hurdzan-Fry Environmental Golf Design, and the layout measures some 7,444 yards. It was originally conceived as a teaching facility for the founding family’s fertilizers and still is an experimental laboratory for those involved in golf course design and tuff and grass management.

The family business was once known as Sylacauga Fertilizer Company, founded in 1904 by Dewitt Parker. Subsequent generations parlayed this small-town business into a world player, patenting the brand Sta-Green and other innovative fertilizer technologies.

In 2006 the family sold the fertilizer business and its technologies to a Canadian company. Now David Pursell, founder and CEO of Farmlinks, is devoted full time to enhancing the farm’s amenities.

In addition to golf, the venue offers hunting, fishing and wooden five-stand structures for shooting sporting clays. The 14,000-square foot Parker Lodge, constructed in 2001 along the restored Hamilton Place and newly constructed cottages and cabins, offers excellent venues for everything from corporate retreats to weddings.

A new executive chef, Andrea Griffith, has been hired to oversee restaurant and culinary responsibilities at the farm. Griffith received her culinary training at The Art Institute of Philadelphia and brings experience from such prestigious resorts as The Greenbrier in West Virginia.

Griffith is a locavore, sourcing many menu items from local growers and Pursell’s one-acre organic garden. She has put together a fabulous five-course dinner for the farm’s inaugural wine event, including country terrine, farm-fresh egg served with asparagus, arugula and aioli, Gulf fish, Border Springs lamb with roasted baby vegetables, gnocchi and mint, brie de Meaux (a French brie made in the village of Meaux ) served with roasted grapes, bacon and jam, followed by crumble Bordeaux and chocolate truffle.

Harry Root of Grassroots Wholesalers and Importers will be on hand to discuss wines paired with Chef Griffith’s creations, which will include a Foggy Ridge hard cider from Virginia, a Napa white blend by Matthiasson, Lioco Russian River Valley Chardonnay, Knez-Cerise Pinot Noir, Steltzner Stags Leap District cabernet and A. Margaine demi-sec Champagne.

See why this is being billed as an overnight event?

For reservations contact Beth Bagley at 256-208-2051. Reservations include a meet-and-greet with Harry Root, followed by wine and cheese, dinner, after-dinner libations and music, as well as lodging and breakfast the following morning. Package prices vary depending on choice of lodging. Accommodations in the lodge run $399 per couple, in the cottages $349 per couple, or a cabin is priced at $295 per couple.

From Anniston, allow an hour and a half for travel to the “middle of nowhere” — 2200 Farm Links Blvd. in Sylacauga, and plan to arrive by 5 p.m. for first event of the evening.

Email Pat Kettles at pkettles@annistonstar.com

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