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February in Paris: Four Pennsylvania wineries to be served on draught
By: Paul Vigna (The Patriot News)
(Photo from Google Images)
(Photo from Philly Burbs)
So what's on tap for Pennsylvania wineries?
Actually, something quite significant. A downtown Philadelphia restaurant has announced that it's opening a wine bar next door that will offer wines from four Pennsylvania wineries on tap. That news is about as good as it gets for an industry that could use all the promotion it can get.
According to a recent tidbit from Inquirer and philly.com food columnist Michael Klein, London Grill (23rd and Fairmount) will open Paris Wine Bar (2303 Fairmount Ave.) in mid-February in a space previously used for takeout and an insurance office. Wines from Pinnacle Ridge (Kutztown, Berks County and Lehigh Valley wine trails), Manatawny Creek (Douglassville, Berks County Wine Trail), Galen Glen (Andreas, Lehigh Valley Wine Trail) and Allegro (The Brogue, Mason-Dixon Wine Trail) will be served along with, according to Klein, French-inspired dishes in a tin-ceilinged, Euro setting.
Wines will cost from $7 to $9.50/glass, with some as low as $4 during happy hour (5 to 7 p.m.). The tentative launch date is Feb. 9
Brad Knapp, owner and winemaker at Pinnacle Ridge, wrote in an e-mail that the restaurant reached out to the wineries. "They wanted to be the first to do this, so they made it happen," he said. He noted that discussions have started to also feature a wine from Waltz Vineyards in Manheim. Paris Wine Bar will serve a 2010 Syrah (not yet available to the public) and 2011 Dry Vidal Blanc from Pinnacle Ridge, a 2010 Merlot from Manatawny Creek (also one that hasn't been released yet), a 2011 Grüner Veltliner from Galen Glen, and a dry rose from Allegro.
It's safe to say that all four wineries are approaching this project with a bit of angst but much anticipation. Joanne Levengood, of Manatawny, said she's excited by the commitment that London Grill owner Terry Berch McNally has to using local products. "This is something more people should do," she wrote.
Sarah Troxell, co-owner of Galen Glen and the winery's excellent winemaker, echoed those sentiments when asked why she's so looking forward to getting this arrangement under way:
"1. kegged wine is a very new trend in the US (of course it already exists in Europe) and we are enjoying learning about the process
2. our wine gets introduced to the Phila consumer in an affordable “by-the-glass” venue. And Phila is “big time!”
Allegro co-owner and winemaker Carl Helrich said this is a big step for a Pennsylvania wine community that often struggles to get its winers into nearby wineries let alone one in Center City Philly.
"What's nice to see is a place in an urban setting that's realizing that they have local wineries in their neighborhood that can actually provide them a product that they can put to good use," he said by phone Friday. "We're been trying for years to get restaurants in the area here to take advantage of the fact we're local and priced competitively for the quality we offer. It's a tough thing to fight your way into."
Helrich laughed when asked how the keg concept, something in this country that's foreign to wine but a part of everyday life for beer, will work. "That's going to be interesting," he said. "You're looking at basically a bunch of winemakers trying to pretend that they know something about brewing, which is what kegging is about. So, luckily at least a couple of us involved, Brad and myself, are reformed homebrewers. I used to keg beer back when I was much younger. So we have a sense of what's going on. . . . It's basically a very similar process to what the beer industry does. It's just that our product is not carbonated."