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Archive for the ‘PA wineries’ Category

I got an email from my friends at Blue Mountain Vineyards Today that I want to share with you. It looks like they have some great events planned. Check it out!

News From the Winemaker

Many of you who have visited the Winery have heard me talk about sulfites. Almost all wines produced in the US contain sulfites, whether they are natural or added. Sulfites are made up of sulfur and oxygen and are used in wine as a preservative to prevent it from turning into vinegar.

For those of you who get headaches from drinking wine, the next information is important and will help you avoid that. Sulfites are naturally occurring in grape skins and seeds. You may notice that red wines affect you more; that is because reds are typically fermented on the skins. The majority of white grapes are pressed before fermentation and only the juice is fermented.

Another major factor in the amount of sulfites needed is the pH of the wine. In order to keep the wine balanced, wines with a higher pH need to have more sulfites added. A typical Blue Mountain wine has a pH of 3.1 and sulfites of 20 to 25 parts per million (ppm). A typical quality California wine has a pH of 3.7 and sulfites of 60 to 70 ppm. The pH and sulfite level in European wines is similar to Blue Mountain.

All wines that contain sulfites must say so on the label, but there is no mention of the amounts. As far as I know, Blue Mountain uses the lowest levels of sulfites on the East Coast. I thought it was appropriate to talk on this subject because we pride ourselves in using our own fruit and keeping the sulfite levels as low as possible.

Vicky’s Corner

The Candlelight Barrel Tasting is just around the corner! April flowers bring a preview of the 2008 vintages. the Candlelight Barrel Tasting is, and always has been, one of our best attended events. It’s a great opportunity for you to taste the 2008 barrel aged wines with Joe (Head Wineau) and also purchase futures on these wines at a 20% discount with only a 25% deposit.

It’s a great evening of wine tasting, delicious hors d’oeuvres and entertainment at a very reasonable admission of $17.50. Relax with the music of Kurt Rauscher’s Dynamic Duo on Sunday. Don’t miss this gerat event – get your reservation early as attendance is limited.

Help Whip Cancer

Gary and Kathy Matson, Independent Pampered Chef Consultants will join us in hosting the Second Annual Help Whip Cancer Fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. This event is to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer education and early detection programs.

More than 25% of all Pampered Chef product purchases will go to the American Cancer Society and there will be a gift with purchase for everyone who attends. Also, $1 from each bottle of select wine sold that night will be donated to the American Cancer Society.

We will also be accepting cash or checks made out to the American Cancer Society at the fundraiser. At 7pm there will be a live recipe demonstration followed by a food and wine tasting and drawing for product door prizes. If you plan to attend, please call 610-298-3068 for reservations as seating is limited.

For more information on these and other events, please visit Blue Mountain’s website. When you visit Blue Mountain Vineyards, remember your wine carrier so you can bring home some of their great wines. Blue Mountain Vineyards is located in New Tripoli, Pennsylvania. To read more about my last visit to Blue Mountain Vineyards, check out this previous blog post.

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Nissley Vineyards and Winery Estate

Nissley Vineyards and Winery Estate

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.

The Limekiln

The Limekiln

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.

Our New Friends

Our New Friends

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

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Back in October, Brenda and I were driving through the Lehigh Valley on our way to an auto race in Connecticut and had the opportunity to visit the Vynecrest Vineyards and Winery in Breinigsville, PA. Unfortunately we didn’t have our camera with us so we don’t have any original pictures to share with you.

John and Jan Landis purchased a small farm in Breinigsville in 1972 and planted their first 50 grape vines in 1974. Since then the farm has grown to 80 acres and they now grow 17 acres of grapes that vary from vinifera varieties such as Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Riesling to hybrids such as Seyval Blanc, Vidal and Vignoles to modern varieties such as Cayuga and Traminette. Winemaker Dr. John Landis is able to use this variety of grapes to blend some unique wines to go with some of the traditional ones he makes.

The winery itself opened in 1989. Prior to then, John and Jan sold their grapes to other Pennsylvania wineries. In 1998, the tasting room was moved to its current location on the main floor from the basement of the former barn that serves as home to the winery. The lower level was remodeled and opened as Tom’s Vyneskeller which is available for private wine tastings, wine appreciation classes and is also open on weekends as a wine bar.

In the tasting room, I especially enjoyed the Shiraz. You don’t see much of this dry Australian inspired dry red in Pennsylvania so it was a real treat. I also enjoyed the Lemberger (Vynecrest’s signature wine) which is a very dry, full bodied red with very strong tannins. Brenda really liked the Niagara (what else is new?) and the Late Harvest Vignoles. I wish we had been there a few weeks later so we could have tried the Nouveau Beaujolais which was released for the first time on November 17th. I’ve never had a Pennsylvania Beaujolais so I’m going to have to get back there for next year’s release.

I found a couple of videos about Vynecrest on You Tube so I’m going to share them with you here.  The first one was recorded by Sam Landis (John and Jan’s son) on November 2nd and talks about the history of the winery.

The second video celebrating Nouveau Beaujolais Weekend was recorded on the third weekend in November and narrated by John Landis.

Vynecrest Vineyards and Winery is a member of the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail.  In fact, Jan Landis served four years as president of the Wine Trail.  Vynecrest also hosts several special events during the course of the year.  The next one, Super Bowl Saturday, scheduled for January 31st will feature chili samplings, recipes, prizes and, of course, wine tasting.  The winery is open on Thursday through Sunday from 11:00 to 5:00.

When you visit Vynecrest, don’t forget your wine carrier so you can bring home several bottles of the delicious wine you’re going to taste.  If you need a wine carrier please visit Picnic Baskets and More where we have a great selection of wine carriers and wine totes at a variety of prices.

Vynecrest Vineyards and Winery is conveniently located just off exit 49A of Interstate Route 78.  For some reason I can’t get a Google Map to import into this post so I’ve taken the map off of Vynecrest’s web site.

vyncerest-map

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The Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex

The Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex

Well Pennsylvania, it’s that time of year again.  Saturday, January 10th will kick-off the 93rd Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg.  Held annually since 1918 with the exception of the World War II years, the Farm Show has something for everyone.  It’s 1,030,740 square feet of exhibition space and eight day attendance of over 500,000 people make it the largest indoor agricultural exposition in the Nation.

For me, the highlight of the Farm Show is the wine competition.  Last year, the the Best of Show winners were Clover Hill Vineyards & Winery’s non-vintage Concord and Antler Ridge Winery’s 2007 Raspberry Bramble.  In all, 34 Pennsylvania Wineries claimed a total of 157 medals including 20 gold medals.  I can’t wait to find out who will win this year.  The Wine Competition winners will be announced on Saturday, January 10th between 2:00 and 2:30 on Stage I of the Main Exhibition Hall.  Unfortunately, all judging times and locations are subject to change so I’d recommend you get there early.  In addition to the competition, there will be an ongoing wine display in the Main Exhibition Hall where two wineries each day will be displaying their products.

Another highlight of the Farm Show is the food court.  Here you can purchase a great selection of Pennsylvania cullinary delights presented by a variety of Pennsylvania Associations.  Among them are the PA Bee Keepers Association who will offer honey ice cream and honey waffles among other things; the PA Cooperative Potato Growers, Inc. who will offer baked potatoes, french fries and their world famous potato donuts (they’re the best); the PA Livestock Association who will be selling pork barbecue, roast beef and ham and cheese sandwiches and other treats and 10 other associations selling everything from deep fried mozzarella cubes to maple ice cream sundaes.  If you leave the food court hungry, it will be your own fault.

Of course, no agricultural show would be complete without animals and agricultural displays.  There will be horses, cattle, sheep, swine, goats, poultry and more for you to see.  Judging in the different livestock categories will take place throughout the week.  The new Exposition Hall will be home to the farm equipment and agricultural displays.  I plan to check this area out on Saturday so check back and I’ll fill you in on the details.

Admission to the Pennsylvania Farm Show is free although they will hit you for $8.00 to park your car.  On-site parking is available for those with handicapped placards and shuttle buses from the off-site parking is included in the $8.00 fee.

To be honest, in previous years I haven’t spent much time at the Farm Show.  It’s one of those things that we tend not to visit the attractions that are closest to us.  This year will be different as I plan to spend all day Saturday and Sunday there and may possibly go back during the week.  Stay tuned for my reports and if you want more, go to The Farm Show!  If you want more information, visit The Pennsylvania Farm Show’s website.

Map of the area around The Farm Show Complex


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Chaddsford Winery

Chaddsford Winery

Last Saturday Brenda and I visited Chaddsford Winery in Chadds Ford, PA.  The winery is conveniently located on US 1 near Longwood Gardens and the Brandywine  Battlefield from The Revolutionary War.  Owners Eric and Lee Miller purchased the winery which had formerly been a dairy barn in 1982 and produced 7,000 gallons of wine in the first year.  Production grew steadily through the 1980s and 1990s and peaked at 200,000 gallons in 2005.  This is the legal limit for a Pennsylvania Limited Winery and Chaddsford has remained at that production level ever since.  All this wine is bottled on a line capable of bottling 42 bottles per minute.

Approximately 25% of Chaddsford’s grapes are grown at the 30 acre Miller Estate Vineyard located nearby in Chester County.  Among the varieties grown there are Pinot Noir, Chambourcin, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot, Barbera, Syrah, Vidal Blanc and others.  They are getting ready to add Pinot Grigio to the selection of grapes grown in the vineyard.  The remainder of the grapes are purchased from other vineyards in south east Pennsylvania.

The Tasting Room

The Tasting Room

Wine tasting at Chaddsford is a pricey $8.00 per person which includes a glass with the winery’s logo.  As you can see from the picture, the price doesn’t scare many people away.  Brenda and I didn’t taste all the wines because of the long line but I did get a chance to sample the Cabernet Sauvignon.  It has a deep dry flavor with a smooth finish.  Brenda enjoyed the Holiday Blush, a sweet wine made for the Christmas season.  We took home some of each.

The winery also offers guided tours although they were cancelled the day we visited because they were short handed.  We were, however able to take a self-guided tour which allowed us to overlook the barrel aging room and many of the fermenting tanks.  Several of their wines including the Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chambourcin are aged in oak barrels.

Chaddsford hosts many special events during the year.  The next one is their Wine and Chocolate Reserve Tastings every weekend in February.  The $25.00 per person event will pair some of Chaddsford’s wines with premium gourmet chocolates from Eclat Chocolate in West Chester, PA.  They also have a very nice outdoor patio on which you can enjoy a picnic lunch and a glass of wine.  Every Friday during the summer months you can enjoy a picnic dinner and some great music as Chaddsford hosts its Friday night concert series.

Chaddsford Winery is open daily from noon to 6:00 pm except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.  When you visit Chaddsford Winery, you’ll need a wine carrier and picnic basket.  Visit Picnic Baskets and More to find a great selection of these and other picnic accessories.

Map of the area around Chaddsford Winery

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Twin Brook Winery

Twin Brook Winery

We finally got a sunny Saturday in Harrisburg so Brenda and I hit the road to the Twin Brook Winery in Gap, PA. Owner Dick Kaplan opened the winery in 1989 after purchasing the 60 acre parcel of land in 1983.  Prior to being a vineyard and winery, the site used to be home to a dairy farm.  The winery itself is located in what used to be a barn that was built in the 1930s.

Winemaker Tim Jobe planted the first grape vines at Twin Brook in 1985 and these are scheduled to be replaced soon.  The vineyard itself now covers 30 acres and another 10 acres are going to be planted in 2009.  Twin Brook grows a very large percentage of the grapes they use in their wines.  In fact, the only two varieties they purchase from other Pennsylvania growers are the Niagara and Norton grapes that are used in their Springhouse White and Springhouse Red wines respectively.  Twin Brook is among the largest growers of Pinot Noir grapes in Pennsylvania.  Among the other varieties grown locally are Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Cayuga, Merlot and Chambourcin.  Twin Brook Winery now produces about 10,000 cases of wine per year.

Brenda and Alan at Twin Brook

Brenda and Alan at Twin Brook

Diane H. was nice enough to take us through our wine tasting.  As usual, Brenda concentrated on the sweet white wines while I tasted the dry reds.  Her favorite wine was the Springhouse White which is a sweet, fruity Niagara which Diane told us is best served very cold.  This wine is reasonably priced at $12.00 per bottle.  I especially enjoyed the Merlot.  This is unusual because Merlot is not normally one of my favorite wines but this barrel aged dry red was smooth and the oak flavor was subtle but noticeable.

Twin Brook Winery is perhaps as well known for the events they host as they are for their wines.  During the summer months, Saturday evenings come alive with the sound of live music.  Each Saturday from 6:30 to 9:30 you can bring your picnic basket, buy some fine wine and listen to some of the local and regional musicians display their talents.  The winery also has a 250 seat greenhouse which is home to craft fairs and business meetings.  Weddings at the winery are especially popular in the autumn months.  Twin Brook also has two outdoor decks where you can enjoy the scenery while enjoying your picnic lunch and a glass of wine.

The Gazebo and Vineyard as Seen from the Deck

The Gazebo and Vineyard as Seen from the Deck

On January 24 and 25, Twin Brook Winery will host Souper Saturday and Sunday.  Enjoy the week between the playoffs and the Super Bowl with a variety of soups and stews in bread bowls that the winery will offer for sale.  Diane suggests that you stop in, purchase some soup and wine and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

Aside from at the winery, Twin Brook’s wines are available at The Iron Horse Restaurant in Strasburg, PA and on the Strasburg Railroad.  They also have five satellite outlets in Chestnut Hill, Downingtown, Lancaster, Exton and their newest location on the Grounds of Miller’s Smorgasboard between Gap and Lancaster.

The winery is located in Eastern Lancaster County about 55 miles from both Harrisburg and Philadelphia.  Check out the map below for more details.  I strongly recommend that you include Twin Brook Winery on your tour of the Brandywine Wine Trail.  When you visit, don’t forget your wine carrier and tell them that The Pennsylvania Wanderer sent you.

I’d also suggest you visit Picnic Baskets and More for all your picnicking needs.

Map of the area.

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Cullari Vineyards and Winery

Cullari Vineyards and Winery

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.

Dante Cullari in the Tasting Room

Dante Cullari in the Tasting Room

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

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