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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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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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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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The Brownstone Cafe

The Brownstone Cafe

Are you looking for a restaurant that features delicious food, large portions, low prices and a bring your own wine policy?  Well, who isn’t!  Last week Brenda and I stumbled upon one of those places.  In 1988, Keith and Carole Matinchek bought the former Hamilton Bank building and opened The Brownstone Cafe.  The beautiful building has been around since 1893 and was built for The National Bank of Middletown by Houshour, Dice and Company of Glen Rock.  The bank became Farmers Trust Company of Middletown in 1962 and National State Bank in 1970.  In 1988 it became Hamilton Bank and was purchased by Core States Bank in 1983.  There is still evidence of the bank inside where you can see the old vault and a bank of safe-deposit boxes supports the beverage bar.

Brenda and I at The Brownstone Cafe

Brenda and I at The Brownstone Cafe

The menu features everything from traditional sandwiches such as Grilled Turkey (they make their own fresh turkey every day) and a Hot Tuna Melt to entrees such as Filet Mignon and Chicken Parmesan.  Brenda decided to have the Baked Meat Loaf Dinner which she described as “the best I’ve ever had”.  I had a prime rib that couldn’t have been better.  It was done to a perfect medium rare and came with Au Jus and horse radish.  I enjoyed every bite.  Each entree comes with two sides which range from bread stuffing to a creamy cucumber salad.  Best of all, our check, including beverages came to under $30.00.  The Brownstone Cafe truly offers home cooking at its best.

When we arrived, we didn’t know The Brownstone Cafe was a bring your own bottle restaurant so we didn’t bring our wine carrier.  But since you know, you’ll be able to bring yours.  What, you don’t have a wine carrier?  If you honor us by visiting Picnic Baskets and More and we’ll be glad to take care of you with a complete selection of wine carriers and wine totes.

Map of the area around The Brownstone Cafe

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