When the leaves begin to turn beautiful shades of autumn and the temperature begins to cool down to “bearable,” I know it’s time to let my #roséallday obsession rest, and happily start my search to find more substantial fall-forward wines to suit the coming season of football, feasts, and festivities.
October is Pennsylvania wine month, and I can think of no better time to enjoy and explore the beautiful landscape of Pennsylvania wine country. From anywhere in our charming state, you are less than an hour’s drive to one of the more than 200 wineries PA has to offer. We are the fifth largest grape producer in the US, proffering more than one million gallons of wine per year. We’ve hand-selected some of the best bottles for you to sip, savor, and share (or not), as well as complied a list of must-dos to keep you busy all season long.
* = Extraordinary, like really, really yummy.
*1. Pittsburgh Winery
Malbec, 2012 ($39)
Smoldering earthy wine with cocoa, cedar, espresso, and pepper notes. Dense in structure and stature, the best pair of legs I’ve seen since Carrie Underwood at the 2012 CMA’s.
Zinfandel, 2013 ($34)
Aromas of autumn, leafy, brambly, blackberry with hints of pepper and deliciously elegant and delicate.
On-site production, storage and cellar seating among aging wine barrels, or venture to the California-style tasting room for a personal experience with the winemakers.
2. Ripepi Winery & Vineyard
Cranberry Wine ($15.99)
A Dry specialty wine with enhanced bright berry flavors. Perfect for your Aunt Sally who “doesn’t like to drink much” (wink, wink).
Jonagold Oaked Apple Wine ($14.99)
Light oaking of Jonathan apples, unique in complexity of fruit flavors.
Check out their calendar for monthly happy hours
*3. Greendance, The Winery at Sand Hill
Merlot & Mourvèdre 2014 ($15)
A blend of two prized French varietals, 52% Merlot and 48% Mourvèdre, creating a rich, silky, and full-bodied wine. Deeply colored and fleshy, with hints of spicy nuttiness.
Black Currant Estate Wine ($16)
Earthy and intense, lingers smooth and sweet and finishes dry and rich with lingering cranberry essence. Black currants are rarely grown in the United States, but Sand Hill Berries is the largest breeder east of the Mississippi.
Enjoy acres of in-bloom wildflowers and live music Friday through Sunday on the outdoor patio. Visit the year-round farm stand to get yourself a sliver of their world-famous berry pie and other baked goods.
4. Mt. Nittany Winery
Tailgate Red ($14.99)
This easy-drinking semi-sweet blend of French hybrid grape varieties serves crisp strawberry and was made for fun, food, and football.
*5. EngineHouse 25
Opens with aromas of violets, rose petals, and red raspberries. Sips smooth as silk with a cherry nose and lingers with edible flowers and raw spice flavors. Fully capable of standing up to your best Sunday sauce.
The tasting room, Arriba, is a place to enjoy regional and artisanal cheese, provided by Wheel & Wedge, to pair with your bottle of choice.
6. Blue Mountain Vineyards
This award-winning Dry Riesling has crisp acidity and minerality that enhances the lively orange, lemon, and floral notes with a clean and refreshing dry finish.
Sunday afternoon Jazz all year long
7. Penn Shore Vineyards
Holiday Spice Wine ($10.95)
Red grape wine with “secret” spice blend. Perfect for serving hot and steamy to truly enjoy the deep flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange.
WineFest Party Saturday, September 24: Food trucks, music, and family entertainment
8. Clover Hill
Spice Apple Wine ($10.99)
A sweet apple wine that is spiced with cinnamon and a hint of clove. Serves well lightly chilled or warmed.
Yoga in the vineyard, the Clover Hill cooking contest, sangria Sundays, and wine and cheese weekends.
9. Presque Isle Wine Cellars
The Big Kahuna of Lake Erie whites, this medium-dry version serves aromas of lemon, infused with light hints of peach and ruby red grapefruit. The medium-dry palate leads in to a juicy mineral mouthfeel, followed by a zesty citrus finish.
Wine-of-the-month club to access members-only discounts, swag, free tastings for small groups, and a percentage off house events and facility rental.
Wines also available at finewineandgoodspirits.com