Five Amazing Wineries Close to Home
Grab a glass, come along with us and set your sights (and palates) on some great grape tourism—a bunch of wineries, vintners and wines—right here in western Pennsylvania.
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Rolling vineyards, impressive tasting rooms and terrific wine grapes aren’t necessarily the things that western Pennsylvania is known for. But we have all these things anyway (we just don’t like to brag). That’s why we felt it was high time for us to devote an entire story to the wineries, vintners and wines of our region.
In the following pages, you’ll find our picks for some of the region’s most worthwhile destination wineries. From La Casa Narcisi, an Italian-inspired winery just 10 miles from the city, to picturesque Stone Villa Wine Cellars in the foothills of the Laurel Highlands, here are easy day trips geared for great ways to experience regional wines.
Less than three hours from the city, you can sample the many award-winning wines of Lake Erie Wine Country, which produces more than 90 percent of Pennsylvania’s grapes and is home to thousands of acres of beautiful vineyards. Then there’s the wine in the glass: Check out the 25 gold- and silver-medal winners of western Pennsylvania selected by the 2011 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition.
No matter what you decide to sip or where you choose to sip it, we hope this tour of our regional wine country will show you that, here in western Pennsylvania, the glass is definitely half-full.
About the Winery: Located just 10 miles north of Pittsburgh, this winery’s beautiful setting, full-service restaurant with patio and tasting room draw a constant stream of visitors. Like other wineries in western Pennsylvania, it is the legacy of wine-savvy Italian immigrants—in this case, Raphael Narcisi, who left a small town in Italy to settle near Pittsburgh in the early 1900s and started making wine for his neighbors. His grandson, Dennis Narcisi, along with his family, built on this heritage to open the winery in 2001.
The deck and patio overlook the scenic Deer Creek Valley. The bulk of the winery’s production—around 100,000 bottles per year—is consumed by visitors. During the busy summer months, as many as 1,500 guests come through the doors between Friday and Sunday. Most of the wines are made with grapes grown in Lake Erie, although estate-grown Frontenac and Vidal Blanc are used in several dessert-style sippers. The lineup of wines includes 28 varieties that range from dry to sweet.
Winemaker’s Notes: Dennis Narcisi and his son, Tony, are the winemakers. Tony returned about five years ago after living in northern California, where he took weekend courses through the nationally known wine program at the University of California at Davis. The father-son collaboration is an easy one, says Tony. “When we make wine, we use my father’s methods and incorporate newer techniques I might have learned about. If I have an idea that might improve the wine, we try it. My dad is very open to the new ideas,” he says. Laughing, he adds, “It’s contrary to what a lot of people think about old Italian guys.”
A recent bottling is a dry rosé they dubbed Brezza Marina (Italian for “sea breeze”). “Our family is from Giulianova, Italy, a little beach town on the Adriatic, and when my father tasted this wine, he said it reminded him of the wine he would drink sitting on the beach at home,” says Tony. Together, the two produce nearly 30 wines.
What to Sip: Try the Riesling, which has been carried by Lidia’s Restaurant in the Strip District for the past five years. If you like dry wine, there’s a Chambourcin, which just released this spring, or try the whites, including a floral Traminette. The variety of fruit and specialty wines includes blueberry and peach wines, a late-harvest Vidal and port-style dessert sipper. In the tasting bar, visitors can sample five different wines at no cost. You can have a meal in the full-service restaurant with a patio or a picnic inside the pavilion. A brand-new, 6,000-square-foot building with indoor dining and banquet facility is scheduled to open in early September.
4578 Gibsonia Road, Gibsonia; 724/444-4744; narcisiwinery.com
Get directions to this winery with Google Maps