It was a cold, gray day in Harrisburg on December 7 so Brenda and I decided not to wander very far from home. The closest winery to our home is the Cullari Vineyards and Winery on Route 422 just outside of Hershey and we had never been there. We knew we could get there, take a look around and still get home in time for the Steelers game. So we did just that.
Founded in 2007, Cullari Vineyards and Winery is the culmination of many years of effort for owner and wine maker Salvatore Cullari. A native of Italy, Salvatore has been making wine for over four decades but until last year, only family and friends were able to enjoy the fruit of his labor. The Cullari family has a farm located a couple of miles from the winery and began growing wine grapes there in 2000. The vineyard covers four acres and accounts for about 65% of the grapes they use in their production. The others are produced in Pennsylvania and neighboring New York. By state law, all out-of-state grapes must be grown within 350 miles of the winery.
Brenda and I were greeted in the tasting room by Salvatore Cullari’s son Dante. It immediately became apparent to me that Dante shared his father’s passion for wine and that the family business will be in good hands for many years to come. Dante showed us around the tasting room and shared a lot of information about the family’s history and the wines they make. He was especially enthusiastic about the Cullari’s White on White and Old County Red wines. The White on White is a unique semi-dry wine that can only be purchased at the winery. Dante proudly told us that the 2007 White on White sold out in less than a month. The Old Country Red is a very dry wine blended from a “secret family recipe” that his father has guarded for over 40 years. It was definitely my favorite of the Cullari wines.
Salvatore Cullari also blends a series of three dry red wines known as Simply Red Number 1, Number 2 and Number 3. The Simply Red Number 1 is a blend of Chancellor and Chambourcin grapes with just a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon. At an inexpensive $8.00 per bottle, this dry wine is quite a bargain. The Simply Red Number 2 is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese and Cabernet Franc. It was my favorite of the Simply Red series. The Simply Red Number 3 contains equal amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc with just a touch of undisclosed hybrids. At $13.00 per bottle, Number 3 is well worth the money even though it’s the most expensive wine in the series.
Brenda is one of the 90% of wine drinkers that enjoy sweet wines. Her Cullari favorites, which she would recommend to anyone, were the Niagara and the Catawba. These wines are very reasonably priced at $10.00 and $9.00 per bottle respectively.
The tasting room itself is spacious and comfortable. Cullari Vineyards and Winery invites you to bring your own food and enjoy a picnic on their deck (weather permitting) or in the tasting room. So pack up your picnic basket and head out to Hershey and visit Cullari Vineyards and Winery. When you do, tell them The Pennsylvania Wanderer sent you.
The Cullari Vineyards and Winery is a proud member of the UnCork York Wine Trail. Please call them at 717-533-8985 for their winter hours.
Map of the area around Cullari Vineyards and Winery