Brenda and I spent a beautiful fall Saturday touring and tasting at Nissley Vineyards and Winery Estate in Bainbridge, PA. J. Richard Nissley first planted wine grapes on his 300 acre farm in 1974 and the winery opened for business in 1978. Today, 50 acres of the farm are dedicated to growing 14 varieties of wine grapes that range from vinifera to Native American Varieties. In total, Nissley produces 20,000 cases of wine per year.
My favorite part of a visit to Nissley is the self-guided tour. The winery will lend you a guidebook that shows you the root and explains everything you’ll see. Your first stop will be the 19th century limekiln that was used to create lime by burning native limestone. The lime was then used for cement, fertilizer and whitewash. The limekiln has stood idle since before 1920 but looks like it could still be used today. Next you’ll visit the vineyards. If you’re lucky enough to be there in June, you’ll enjoy the sweet aroma of grape blossoms. A short walk back toward the fermenting room will take you past the outdoor crushing area. Once inside the fermenting room you’ll be able to see the many fermenting tanks, the filtering equipment and the bottling line. Nissley uses only metal fermenting tanks for its 25+ wine varieties saying that the metal tanks are more sanitary and less expensive to use than wooden barrels and tanks. The bottling line can handle up to 1,800 bottles per hour and because of that high capacity, Nissley can bottle all its wine for the year in approximately 30 days.
After our tour, we headed to the tasting area which was outside the front of the winery since it was such a beautiful day. There we were joined by a bridal party for a very pleasant time. I’ve tasted Nissley wines many times before and Nissley wasn’t our last stop of the day so I limited myself to a couple of dry whites that I hadn’t had before. I really enjoyed the 2007 Seyval Blanc which had a clean crisp flavor with just a hint of citrus. I always wonder where citrus undertones come from in a wine. I also tasted the 2007 Vidal Blanc which had a somewhat fruitier flavor than the Seyval Blanc. I think I’m starting to develop a taste for dry white wines. Brenda decided not to taste today so her analysis of the sweet wines will have to wait for another day.
The reason I’ve been to Nissley so often is because of their Music in the Vineyards series held every Saturday in July and August. They offer a variety of music that includes big band and swing, top 40, classic rock and Motown. There’s a very nice bandstand and a roomy dance floor for your pleasure. The best part of the concert series is that you can bring your own food, buy some wine and sit outside and relax. I’ve seen some groups bring spreads that rival any tailgating party I’ve ever seen but I just pack up my wicker picnic basket and buy a bottle of Nissley’s 2006 Cabernet Franc. I’d highly recommend that you pay a visit to Nissley Vineyards and Winery Estate for one of these concerts. If you do, please tell them that The Pennsylvania Wanderer sent you.
Map of the area around Nissley Vineyards and Winery Estate