Pennsylvania Wines 101

A sampling of eight mid-palate wines made in Pennsylvania.

I am a newbie when it comes to Pennsylvania wines. Unfortunately, like most of my friends, I rarely use the words “Pennsylvania” and “wine” in the same sentence. Why? Our soils are different, our growing season short and the varietals limited. The industry is still in its infancy, isn’t all that organized and, due to the restrictive nature of the state controls, the product is somewhat inaccessible.

So, for this, our first wine issue, we contacted the 30-odd wineries located west of the Alleghenies and requested samples from each. Surprisingly, we received about as many bottles in response. Many were variations of a theme, some yielded unexpected results and others were totally off the wall.

For the sake of brevity, I decided to focus on the mid-palate whites, which seem to be the “sweet spot” for Pennsylvania wines. Here are some of the standouts:

Greenhouse Winery, Pinot Grigio: Crisp, light, fruit-forward with hints of apple and pear and a lovely color of pale straw

Kavic Winery, Traminette: Deep gold hue, pleasant floral notes, off-dry

Mazza Winery, Pinot Grigio: Crisp, off dry and approachable, traditionally styled with a short finish

Conneaut Cellars, Gewürztraminer: Off-dry, pleasant minerality with a surprisingly long finish

Narcisi Winery, Riesling: fruit-forward, off-dry, in the traditional styling

Foxburg Wine Cellars, Seyval Blanc: Sweet, highly perfumed, mild acidity, no wallflower

Winfield Winery, Yellow Raspberry: Sweet, fruity, syrupy, more of a cordial or aperitif

Greenhouse Winery, Hoe in the Garden: Attractive rose color, fun, grapey, would be best over crushed ice or in a spritzer

It was a fun exercise—one I would encourage you to participate in. Grab a few bottles, have some friends over and give some of these wines a try. You might be pleasantly surprised. 

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