Friday, March 30, 2007

A quick trip to Philadelphia: will I be able to taste some Pennsylvania wines?

Do you know that Pennsylvania ranks fifth in grape growing production and is one of the fastest growing wine region in the nation?

Pennsylvania's winemaking history goes back to the 1600s with William Penn the first to plant Vinifera vines in 1684. Unfortunately, none of them survived.

Nowadays, Pennsylvania is still primarily a dairy producing state but winemaking has been growing rapidly since the adoption of the Farm Winery Act in 1968, which allowed wineries to sell wine directly to the public. Only about a quarter of the grapes grown in the state are Vitis vinifera. The majority are Native American (Vitis labrusca) and French-American hybrids (including Chambourcin, Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc, Vignoles) that are planted for their hardiness and resistance to disease.

Pennsylvania wine is not easy to find. 95 percent of the production is sold directly at the winery, 4 percent through the state-owned liquor stores, and only 1 percent is sold out of state.

Therefore , the best way to discover Pennsylvania wine is to visit the wineries along some of the state's well documented wine trails such as the Berks County Wine Trail, the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail, or the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail.

Unfortunately, I will not have the time for such visits during this trip, so I just hope that I will find some local wines by the glass wherever I go for dinner.

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Anonymous said...

How can you discuss Pennsylvania Wine without at least mentioning the vibrant Lake Erie Wine Region. I would argue that some of Pennsylvania's finest wines are produced in this region!

agategoddess said...

Chiming in from South Central PA here, York County to be more specific (about 2 hours West of Philly)...there is a nice concentration of 3 or 4 wineries just within 30 minutes of my house. If you come across anything from Nissley or Moondancer wineries I highly suggest you give them a go. We have bottles from both constantly on hand at home.

Moi ;) said...

Go to Ristorante Panorama on Front Street. They have a huge wine bar there, and I am sure they'll have some PA wines - they have a website ( so maybe you can even ask before you go...(hope this isn't too late!)

Catherine Granger said...

Thanks a lot for all these recommendations! I only spent one evening in Philadelphia and I loved the town! I hope I'll have the opportunity to come back and spend more time there. We had a nice dinner in a small restaurant in the area of Chestnut St and 20th. Nice food, nice wine, although not from Pennsylvania.

WineCompass said...

Of course you can find wineries near Philadelphia on our Pennsylvania winery page: