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Sammy's Authentic Italian Restaurant

Sammy's Authentic Italian Restaurant

Are you looking for a fine dining restaurant in Harrisburg, PA where you can bring your own wine? Brenda and I packed our wine carrier and discovered Sammy’s Authentic Italian at 502 North Third Street in Harrisburg. Sammy’s is located directly across from the Capitol so you can’t miss it.

Like most fine dining restaurants, Sammy’s menu consists of a wide variety of appetizers, entrees and desserts. Two things, however, separate Sammy’s from most other restaurants in the area. First, they offer a great variety of specials that change from night to night and second, if your want an Italian specialty that’s not on the menu, ask your server and, if he can, Sammy will make it for you.

Doesn't That Look Good?

Doesn't That Look Good?

Brenda and I started our meal with a Portobello mushroom and roasted red pepper appetizer from the specials list. Sauteed in balsamic vinegar and garlic, this appetizer just burst with flavor. For her entree, Brenda ordered the Veal Parmesan from the regular menu. The portion size was just right and the veal was so tender you could cut it with a fork. She really enjoyed it with the White Zinfandel she brought from our wine rack. I went back to the specials list for the Steak Pizziola to have with my Cabernet Sauvignon. The large rib-eye was cooked to a perfect medium rare and the sauce had just a touch of sweetness to it that I really liked. We topped our meal off with Sammy’s homemade Creme de Carmel. The portion was plenty big enough for the two of us and the consistency and flavor were just perfect. When all was said and done, our check came to a somewhat pricey $83.00 but I felt it was worth the money.

If I had one criticism of Sammy’s it would be that we felt a bit rushed. Our salads came about two minutes after our appetizer and at no time during our meal was there any down time to enjoy our wine and conversation. I finally had to tell the server to give us 10 minutes before we ordered dessert so we could rest and relax. In the grand scheme of things this was a minor issue and I can enthusiastically recommend Sammy’s Authentic to anyone who likes fine Italian dining and want’s to bring their own wine.

Business was booming at Sammy’s last night so I recommend you call ahead at 717-221-0192 for reservations. I hope you pack your wine carrier and visit Sammy’s Authentic Italian soon. When you do, please tell them that The Pennsylvania Wanderer sent you.

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williams-grove-flea-market-3Are you one of the many people in Central Pennsylvania who misses the Silver Spring Flea Market? Were you as disappointed as I was when the racetrack and flea market were turned into Wegmans and Target stores? If you were, you’ll be happy to know that the flea market is back and better than ever at Williams Grove Speedway. Every Sunday at 6:00 am, hundreds of vendors open their booths and offer everything you could imagine in new and used merchandise.

Yes I Really Said Deep Fried Pickles

Yes I Really Said Deep Fried Pickles

The flea market is actually two flea markets in one. The Williams Grove Historical Steam Engine Association has been hosting a Sunday morning flea market since April, 2007. The flea market consists of four rows of vendors selling everything from musical instruments to deep fried pickles (yes, I said deep fried pickles). Today I bought a like new heating and massage cushion for $5.00, 50 disposable lighters for $7.00 and four fresh cucumbers for $2.00. I passed on the deep fried pickles but someday… Vendor spaces are available for as little as $12.00 for a 15 x 30 foot space and $15.00 for a corner space.

Musical Instruments at the Flea Market

Musical Instruments at the Flea Market

The Park Market, located in the old Williams Grove amusement park is the rebirth of the Silver Spring Flea Market. The flea market winds around and through the old amusement rides and many of the buildings that used to serve as concession stands are now being used by the larger vendors who used to be indoors at Silver Spring. I’ve purchased everything from baseball cards to antique glassware to leather belts to fresh produce at The Park Market. During the spring and summer, The Park Market also features plants and flowers for your gardening needs and It seems like every time we go, there is more to see and more to buy. You could easily go to The Park Market every Sunday and find something different to bring home.  15 x 25 foot vendor spaces in The Park Market are only $10.00.

Whether you’re buying or selling, the flea markets at Williams Grove Speedway are for you.  I may even bring some of my picnic baskets or barbecue tool sets and set up a booth there soon. In any event the flea markets are a great walk in the park and offer everyone the chance to find a treasure!

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I Brought Home Five Bottles

I Brought Home Five Bottles

In the first part of this series I talked about how Cheryl and Ed Glick came to own Brookmere Winery. Today it’s time to talk about the wine. When I asked Cheryl and Ed which Brookmere wines were their favorites, I got two very different answers. Cheryl’s favorite is the Pinot Grigio which is a semi-dry white and Ed’s favorite is the Alexander Red which is a dry blend of Cabernet Franc and Chambourcin. As I find to the true at most wineries, Brookmere’s best selling wine is a sweet blush named Frog Hollow. Brenda really enjoyed this Niagara based blend that sells for an economical $8.50 per bottle. I really liked Brookmere’s dry red wines. My favorite was the Carmine which is a blend of Merlot, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine was great today but will be even better after it ages for a few years. I also liked the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon which was rich with just the right amount of tannins and the Chambourcin which was different from Chambourcin I’ve tasted at other Pennsylvania wineries. Ed explained to me that the flavor comes from the soil and no two vineyards have the same soil. I have to say though, that I agree with Ed and my favorite Brookmere wine is the Alexander Red.

Brookmere also makes some specialty wines including Spiced Apple and Berries Gone Wild that Brenda enjoyed and a Port that I really liked. This Port is different from most in that it’s not infused with brandy. Enjoy the Port with some semi-sweet chocolate or a great cigar. The most unique wine I tasted was the sweet and spicy Red Foxx. I promised not to reveal the Glicks’ secret ingredient but you will definitely taste a cinnamon finish when you try this wine. In total I brought home five bottles in my wine carrier and expect to go back for more this summer.

Brookmere's Pavilion

Brookmere's Pavilion

Another reason I’ll be returning to Brookmere is for the summer music series. If you happened to check their website and found that their pavilion is under construction, let me be the first to tell you that it’s done. The winery will be hosting a Saturday night concert this summer and you’re invited! Brookmere’s wines will be available and a caterer will be there to provide food. You may bring your own picnic dinner if you choose. Cheryl and Ed promised me that the website will be updated soon with a schedule of the summer events so check back often. The outdoor pavilion can accommodate up to 250 people and is available for weddings and other events.

The Brookmere grounds are also home to the only Bed and Breakfast in Pennsylvania that’s located at a winery. The Village Inn was built as a southern mansion farmhouse in 1866 by James Alexander. Today you can enjoy a romantic evening or weekend in one of their luxurious rooms or suites. The inn also has a grand room that can play host to your special event of up to 75 people.

I hope you have a chance to visit Brookmere Winery soon. They’re open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM and Sunday from 1:00 to 4:00. If you’d like more information, please call Cheryl or Ed at 717-935-5380 or visit Brookmere’s website. Brookmere Winery is a proud member of the Susquehanna Heartland Wine Trail and participates in all their special events. By the way, you’re going to want to arrive in style with a wine carrier from Picnic Baskets and More. We offer a great selection of wine carriers for one to six bottles. Have a great time at Brookmere Winery and please tell them that The Pennsylvania Wanderer sent you.

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From the moment we saw the old 1866 barn, Brenda and I knew we were in for a treat at Brookmere Winery in Belleville, PA. Owners Cheryl and Ed Glick were happy to share some of the winery’s history and other interesting facts with us. The prior owners, Susan and Donald Chapman planted the first three acres of grape vines on the 138 acre farm in 1981. The winery first opened in 1984 and has been a fixture on route 655 ever since.

Chery and Ed Glick

Chery and Ed Glick

In 1995, Cheryl Glick went to work for the Chapmans at the winery. In 1999, Ed joined the winery staff and began learning the wine making process. When the Chapmans decided to sell the winery, the Glicks were there to buy it and continue Brookmere’s fine tradition. Today the Glicks grow 10 acres of grapes that include such French hybrid varieties as Chellois, Vidal, Seyval and Chambourcin. These represent between 35% and 40% of the grapes that make up the 13,000 gallons of wine that Brookmere produces each year. The remaining grapes come from other Pennsylvania growers. Most of Brookmere’s wine is fermented in steel tanks although some is aged in oak barrels. The bottling line can handle between 150 and 200 bottles per hour and the entire bottling process takes about three months per year.

The Glicks have the capacity and desire to expand the vineyard and winery to 20,000 gallons per year. When I asked them about the impact of the current economic crisis on sales, they replied that there has been no impact whatsoever. People consider wine to be a relatively inexpensive luxury and won’t give it up. It also makes a great gift that won’t break the budget. In fact, the Glicks told me that 2008 holiday sales were actually up over 2007. There are things that Cheryl and Ed would like to see change in the Pennsylvania laws governing wine sales. Under the current law, Brookmere can only sell their wine at five state operated liquor stores within a small radius of the winery. They would like that number and radius to expand. In addition, they wish they could ship their wine to more states. They would have no problem at all if the arrangements were reciprocal and wineries in other states were able to ship into Pennsylvania. According to Ed, “we’re not big enough to hurt them and they’re not big enough to hurt us”.

Brookmere Wines

Brookmere Wines

Stay tuned for part two of my series on Brookmere Winery where I’ll talk about Brookmere’s wines, their special events and another, very special surprise. I hope you have a chance to visit Brookmere Winery soon. They’re open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM and Sunday from 1:00 to 4:00. If you’d like more information, please call Cheryl or Ed at 717-935-5380 or visit Brookmere Winery’s website. Brookmere Winery is a proud member of the Susquehanna Heartland Wine Trail and participates in all their special events. By the way, you’re going to want to take home plenty of Brookmere’s wine so don’t forget your wine carrier. Picnic Baskets and More offers a great selection of wine carriers for one to six bottles. Have a great time at Brookmere Winery and please tell them that The Pennsylvania Wanderer sent you.

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Wine Tasting with Amy

Wine Tasting with Amy

Our tasting at Naylor Wine Cellars actually happened in two parts.  When we first arrived, Amy was nice enough to take us through a normal wine tasting.  Amy’s dream is to host private wine tastings at customers’ venues where she would present the wines and representatives of local wineries would be available to sell the wine to the guests.  I don’t know the legal complications but it sounds like a pretty good idea to me.

As usual, Brenda tasted a series of sweet whites, blushes and fruit wines while enjoyed some of the dry whites and reds.  She started off with the Golden Grenadier Niagara which, at $8.95 per bottle, is Naylor’s most popular wine.  A reminder to we dry red lovers…90% of all wine drinkers prefer sweet wines.  She also enjoyed the Ruby Grenadier Catawba which she described as “as sweet as a bunch of grapes but with some kick”.  Her favorite wine of the tasting was Naylor’s Raspberry.  The thing that makes Naylor’s fruit wines so great is that they are actually made from the fruit.  This is not grape wine flavored with fruit juice.  Brenda recommends that you try the Raspberry wine when you visit Naylor Wine Cellars.

Of Course We Brought some Home!

Of Course We Brought some Home!

I started off with the 2006 Chardonnay, a dry white that I seem to be developing a taste for lately.  After that short diversion from my normal tasting, I moved on to the dry reds.  My two favorites were the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2007 Shiraz.  The Cabernet Sauvignon is aged for 18 months in American and French oak barrels leaving it with a rich deep flavor that I can’t get enough of.  Mr. Naylor first planted Shiraz grapes in 2006.  The 2007 wine is the first vintage from these young vines.  I’m telling you, this wine is delicious.  I’m rapidly becoming a fan of this Australian variety as more and more Pennsylvania wineries begin to produce it.

As I moved into the fermenting room to take some pictures, I had no idea that the best part of my Naylor wine tasting was yet to come.  In part I of this series you learned much of the history of Naylor Wine Cellars courtesy of a couple hours I spent with Dick Naylor after Ted Potter introduced us.  After we talked for a while, Mr. Naylor asked me if I wanted to try a few more wines.  Since some time had passed since my first tasting, I figured it was safe to drink a little more wine before heading home.

First Mr. Naylor asked me if I wanted to try the 2001 Seductivo.  Due to it’s scarcity, Naylor doesn’t include this Chambourcin on their normal tasting menu.  I have to tell you, this dry, rich red is my new favorite Pennsylvania wine.  Mr. Naylor then started talking about the versatility of the Chambourcin grape and to illustrate, opened a bottle of Naylor 2008 Nouveau.  The contrast between this young fruity wine and the Seductivo was stark.  From the color to the flavor, there was nothing similar about these two wines even though they come from the same grapes.  Next we moved on to the Summertime Red which is the same blend as the Nouveau but aged for an extra six months.  The Summertime Red has a much deeper color and drier flavor than the Nouveau.  Finally we tried the 2007 Chambourcin.  This wine was drier than the Nouveau yet lighter than the Seductivo.  It’s hard to believe that all four of these wines came from the same variety of grapes.  Needless to say, I enjoyed this lesson on the versatility of the Chambourcin grape very much.  I want to thank Mr. Naylor very much for the time he spent talking with me about the winery, his wine packaging business and the wine.  Thanks also for the bottle of 2001 Seductivo that I got to take home.  It was delicious.

The Pavilion at Naylor Wine Cellars

The Pavilion at Naylor Wine Cellars

As we were getting ready to leave, I took a walk toward the pavilion where Naylor’s summer concert series is held.  I couldn’t get too close because of the snow and ice but remember, Spring is coming soon!  Beginning in mid-June and continuing through mid-September, Naylor hosts a Saturday night big band concert and dance series.  People are invited to bring their picnic baskets, purchase some Naylor wine and enjoy the music from 7:00 – 10:00 pm.  Naylor also hosts several Friday night rock and roll events each Summer.  Check out Naylor Wine Cellars’ website for more details.

I strongly recommend that you pay a visit to Naylor Wine Cellars next time you’re in Central Pennsylvania.  When you do, bring your wine carrier and, as always, tell them The Pennsylvania Wanderer sent you.

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As I sit back in my recliner enjoying a glass of 2001 Naylor Grand Reserve Seductivo I can’t help but think about the great time that Brenda and I had at Naylor Wine Cellars last Saturday. Located in Stewartstown, PA, Naylor Wine Cellars is the pride and joy of Audrey and Richard Naylor.

Mr. Naylor’s wine making adventure began way back in 1961 when he was in the packaging business.  One of his customers was a home winemaking supply store in Cockeysville, MD.  He had the opportunity to try some of his customer’s wine and was hooked.  He started by making dandelion and strawberry wines and planted his first 100 grapevines in his backyard in 1964, four years before commerical wineries became legal in Pennsylvania.  Soon he expanded to occupy 1/4 acre of a friend’s farm.

Mr. Naylor and Me in the Pressing Room

Mr. Naylor and Me in the Pressing Room

In 1974, opportunity knocked and Mr. Naylor had a chance to buy a fruit farm located at the current site of his vineyard and winery.  After a short period where he leased the farm back to the prior owners, Mr. Naylor and his best friend, Bob Eisenhart planted the first 1 1/4 acres of grapes in 1975.  The vineyard grew to just under five acres by 1977 when the first harvest was pressed and fermented in old milk tanks.  The first sales were made out of a potato cellar in February, 1978.  Tragically, Bob Eisenhart who built most of the farm equipment died of cancer in March, 1978 less than four months after complaining of severe back pain while pheasant hunting on Thanksgiving Day, 1977.  To this day, Mr. Naylor is still affected by the loss of his best friend.

Mr. Naylor built the current winery building in 1982 and started selling supplies to home wine makers in 1983.  During this time, Mr. Naylor was still in the packaging business and designed some unique boxes for protecting wine bottles while they were in transit.  IN 1992 he sold his interest in the packaging business but kept ownership of the designs for the wine boxes.  In 1993 he built a warehouse for manufacturing and storing the wine boxes.  This warehouse doubles as a banquet room although plans are in the works for a new warehouse so the current one can be dedicated to entertaining guests.

Mr. Naylor in the Fermenting Room

Mr. Naylor in the Fermenting Room

In 1992, executive chef Ted Potter joined Naylor as the winemaker.  Under his leadership the vineyard has grown to its current 30 acres that produces over 40 varities of grapes.  In fact, 95% of the grapes that make up Naylor’s wines are grown on the family farm.  Some Vidal grapes are purchased from Marty Keen who once owned the first commercial winery in Pennsylvania.  Mr. Potter and Mr. Naylor have no plans to expand the vineyards any further at this time.  Today, Naylor Wine Cellars produces 20,000 gallons of wine per year.  All of Naylor’s red wines except the Nouveau are aged in oak as is the Chardonnay.  The wine is bottled over 55-60 days per year by farm staff when the weather isn’t condusive to outdoor work.  The size of the winery could justify higher capacity bottling equipment but Mr. Naylor would rather put his people to work indoors rather than cost them their pay checks.

I could go on for pages with the stories Mr. Naylor told me about his years in the wine business and his 15 or more trips to Europe to visit wineries but I think I’ll stop here.  Stay tuned for part II of my report on Naylor Wine Cellars when I’ll talk about Naylor’s wines and the special events they host.  In the meantime, grab your wine carrier and head out to Naylor Wine Cellars for a great education and some excellent wine.  When you visit, please tell them that The Pennsylvania Wanderer sent you.

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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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