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Pennsylvania Local Wines

I have heard it over and over again that wineries in Pennsylvania cannot make a good wine to save their soul. If you really believe this, then you are not trying hard enough. America’s first commercial vineyard, The Pennsylvania Vine Company was established in 1793 by the French near Philadelphia. Two factors affected the wine industry here. The first is phylloxera, a microscopic insect that attacks the root of the grape vine, and the second was the prohibition movement. Even though prohibition was repealed in 1933, Pennsylvania restricted wine making until 1968 and we are still in the dark ages with many of our liquor laws.

Pennsylvania is now growing many different types of grapes and winning critical acclaim both nationally and internationally. Southeastern Pennsylvania is considered an undiscovered jewel by Australian viticulturists Richard Smart. Pennsylvania wines website includes information about the latest awards, wineries to visit, and other wine resources.

I hosted blind tasting this past summer where my theme was Bordeaux style blends from all over the world. Each attendee had to guess the origin of each wine. Seven wines were tasted from France, Italy, Chile, Portugal, California, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. When the bags came off the bottles two wines shocked the participants because of how amazing both tasted. The first was Trump’s 2012 Meritage from Virginia and Allegro’s 2010 Cadenza from York County Pennsylvania.

Most wineries in Pennsylvania that produce some of the great red wines in the state have limited quantities. Allegro Winery at 3475 Sechrist Road in Brogue, PA is a great example. Allegro ran out of the 2010 Cadenza around July of this past year. Carl Helrich, the owner and winemaker at Allegro, said that he will have their 2013 Cadenza out sometime near the end of 2015. Cadenza is a Cabernet heavy blend with some Petit Verdot, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. I have already put December on my calendar to try this new wine.

Allegro also makes some other notable wines you should try. Their Bridge wine is another blend that I have enjoyed. The next vintage is coming out in the fall. Carl likes to make great red wines and will only release them on years that they are really great. I remember about 5 years ago he made a Sangiovese that was amazing, but I haven’t seen it since. Allegro collaborated with two other local wineries to make Trio, another red blend with grapes from Allegro Winery(Brouge, PA), Manatawny Creek Winery(Douglassville, PA), and Pinnacle Ridge Winery(Kutztown, PA). I sure hope they do more of this because it was quite popular and has many followers that are patiently waiting for this offering.

Chambourcin is a grape that grows well in our Pennsylvania climate. This grape is not as well known, but you should get to know it. There are some great wines made with this grape. Pinnacle Ridge Winery makes a Chambourcin and Chambourcin Reserve. Both are worth trying. Chambourcin produces fruity, deeply colored, low tannin reds. Brad Knapp from the winery said there is a 2014 Pinot Noir that is looking and tasting fabulous that will be released later this year.

Galen Glen Winery in the Lehigh Valley makes a Stone Cellar Chambourcin that is deeply colored, dry, low in tannins and exploding with red fruit making it very approachable for wine drinkers. I also think you should try their Cabernet Franc made in a European style, medium bodied made with integrated tannins and has a spicy, cherry aroma.

To find out more about these and future wines, visit each wineries website and sign-up to be notified when these great wines become available. Most will sell you wine and ship it to your door, but don’t be afraid to take a drive and taste some of these wines in person.


Robert Godfrey

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