Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Wine Roots

Every now and again, I get nostalgic for the past that led me to Napa Valley.  Over my Christmas holiday this year, I decided to pick up some wine books that are sitting on my shelves and take them along to read.  One book, Pennsylvania Wineries by Linda Jones McKee and Richard Carey, was given to me when I visited my first winery in Pennsylvania, Adams County Winery, by the winemaker himself.  When my parents told him that I was starting an agricultural course in high school and that I was reading articles about grapes, he grabbed the book, which had just been published, off of the display table and put it in my hands.  He told me to read it and explore the Pennsylvania wine industry.  At that time, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  I read the book then... and I read the book now.  

Pennsylvania Wineries can be purchased from amazon.com

Although the book is about 10 years out-dated, it captures the essence of the Pennsylvania wine industry and its roots.  Each winery has an incredible story behind it - how it started, why it started, and how it maintains business.  I encourage all Pennsylvania residents (and others!) to explore what is in their backyard.  Such fun things exist in the state - a Renaissance Fair, annual festivals at several wineries, hunting/fishing stops at wineries, Appalachian Trail hikes through wineries, and fun by all!

Some things have definitely changed for the state of Pennsylvania since the time of the book's publication.  For one thing, the book focuses on 53 of the wineries throughout the state.  Today, there are over 100.  In the past, the industry was just getting noticed.  Today, it has its own website: Pennsylvaniawine.com.  They are also included on Facebook and Twitter for all of us nostalgic locals to keep tabs on the industry.  And at the time of publication, the idea of having an actual castle on site at Sand Castle Winery was only a dream... today, a reality!

As the industry continues to grow, there are so many unique places for Pennsylvania residents to visit.  Here are just a few of my favorite stories from the book (in no particular order):

1) Allegro Vineyards was the original creator of Opus 1 wine, before Robert Mondavi filed a patent for his Opus One in California
2) Franklin Hill Vineyards is considered a model workplace for women, originally owned and operated by a group of local women while their children were in school
3) Chaddsford is one of the largest wineries in the state of Pennsylvania
4) Mazza Vineyards received national attention in 1974 for their Riesling, which was considered to be a Mosel, German Riesling in a blind competition
5) Stargazers Vineyard & Winery was named after the Mason-Dixon line surveyors, and has an environmentally friendly winery operation

There are so many more stories and fantastic wineries to visit in the state of Pennsylvania.  I wish I took the time to enjoy what the state had to offer me while I still lived there.  Please keep us all posted in the comment section of this blog if anyone visits a local winery and has a unique story to offer.

The look of Pennsylvania wine:

Photo from Mazza Wines

Chaddsford Winery
Photo from Chaddsford Winery

Adams County Winery's picturesque farm, located in Orrtanna PA

Slideshow Image 1

Photo from Sand Castle Winery

And much, much more...

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