Picture yourself cruising along Pennsylvania’s winding roads in a sporty convertible – the top down, wind in your hair and fall’s afternoon sunshine warming your face. Intermittently, you pass through lush valleys ablaze with fall color and towering mountain ridges, stopping to explore the curiosities of each town you pass through – roadside stands, antique shops, local restaurants and… wineries. Turns out, you’re following one of Pennsylvania’s many wine trails.
Okay, maybe you don’t really drive a convertible but the thrills that await you along Pennsylvania’s wine trials will more than make up for that. Read on to learn more about a few of the trails and the nuances that will make visiting them a must-do activity while in PA.
Pennsylvania’s moderate climate and rolling terrain make for excellent grape growing conditions and even better wines. There are approximately 14,000 acres of grapes growing throughout the state and plenty of wineries to cultivate them – all located within Pennsylvania’s striking landscape and close enough that several can easily be visited in one day.
Wine-loving history buffs will delight in a stop or two (or three!) along the Mason Dixon Wine Trail in southern PA. Located about an hour north of this historic line, the trail features 23 family-owned wineries eager to share the art and magic of winemaking through regular events and tastings. Mark your calendar for Wine Just Off the Vine, November 9-10 and 16-17. Attendees will have the opportunity to look beyond the wineries’ cellar doors to better understand the intricacies of the art of winemaking, ask plenty of questions and enjoy winemaker-selected pairings.
The Lehigh Valley Wine Trail offers wine aficionados a truly unique tasting experience. The Chambourcin grape, the signature winemaking grape of the region, is a French-American hybrid that is normally difficult to grow but flourishes here and is worth more than a few stops along the trail. Visit any one of the wine trail’s eight family-owned vineyards and you’ll be sure to fall in love with this distinctive grape not to mention the wines produced from it.
Looking for a Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewurztraminer or a Blaufrankisch (Lemberger), Dornfelder, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, or perhaps a hybrid or varietal such as a Vidal, Vignoles, or Noiret? Lake Erie Wine Country’s 23 boutique wineries (previously known as the Chautauqua-Lake Erie Wine Trail) offer all these and more. An amazingly rich and fertile soil perfect for wine-growing – courtesy of the Ice Age – and moderate spring and fall temperatures – courtesy of Lake Erie – combine to create the perfect growing environment for healthy vineyards and the making of fabulous wines. Open year-round for tours and tastings, the region’s winemakers invite you to stop by and try their vinifera, ice wines, fruit wines and specialty wines, including brandies, Sherries and ports.
Punxsutawney is not only home to the world’s most recognized and famed weather prognosticator, but also a stop along The Alleghenies’ Groundhog Region Wine Trail. This trail is the state’s longest so be sure to take time between wineries to enjoy the beauty of the Alleghenies and all it has to offer. Don’t worry, if you tarry too long; there are plenty of quaint bed & breakfasts at which to stay and local eateries to enjoy. Bundle up for the annual Groundhog Day Wine Festival featuring none other than Punxsutawney Phil and scheduled for Saturday, February 3 in 2014, complete with live entertainment!
These are just a few of Pennsylvania’s wine trails. Many more are waiting around the next bend for you to discover and experience. Find a full list of Pennyslvania's wine trails here. Enjoy!