It’s another cold, dreary Saturday in Harrisburg. I’m starting to wonder if we’re ever going to see the sun on a weekend again. The miserable weather wasn’t enough to stop Brenda and I from heading north to the Hunters Valley Winery in Liverpool, PA. The drive was an easy half hour up routes US 11 & 15 to the junction of PA 34. From there it’s less than a mile to the winery.
In August, 2006 Darlene and Bill Kvaternik realized one of their dreams by opening the beautiful new Hunters Valley Winery. They had begun growing wine grapes on a vacant lot in Harrisburg about 25 years ago and making wine for the pleasure of their family and friends. In 1986 they opened the original Hunters Valley Winery in a former chicken hatchery less than a mile from the current location. Bill noticed that the land had been home to a peach and cherry orchard and reasoned that since peaches require land characteristics similar to those required by grapes, the land would be great for growing wine grapes. Bill actually designed the new winery and supervised the construction himself.
The adjoning vineyard is home to about five acres of grapes including Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Vidal Blanc and several other varieties. Darlene and Bill are excited that 2009 will produce their first harvest of homegrown Riesling grapes. Alt0gether Darlene and Bill grow about 40% of the grapes that make up the 4,000 gallons of wine they produce each year. The remainder, mainly Concord and Niagara grapes which don’t grow well in the Susquehanna Valley, are purchased from growers in Pennsylvania and New York. Bill really enjoys experimenting and has planted small crops of other varieties of vinifera grapes. He’s looking forward to finding out which of these will make great wine.
Inside the production center, everything is done by hand. Do to space limitations, the Kvaterniks are forced to bottle some of their wine each week rather than bottling it all at once. They hand filter the wine and utilize the pictured six bottle filler. Bill is a recent convert to synthetic cork. He tried several types over the years and was never satisfied with the results. He finally tried Noma Cork and immediately became a believer. He also noted that the quality of natural cork has been deteriorating in recent years.
After talking with Darlene and Bill in the production center, Brenda and I headed for the tasting bar and my favorite part of every winery visit. Stay tuned for my next post when I talk about Hunters Valley’s wine and the special events that they host during the year. In the meantime, head to Hunters Valley Winery and don’t forget your wine carrier because you’re going to want to take home several bottles of their great wines. I did!
Map of the area around Hunters Valley Winery: