Philadelphia, PA - With geography, climate and growing conditions that mirror those of the Bordeaux Region in France, southeastern Pennsylvania continues to emerge as a major force in America’s wine industry. In fact, Pennsylvania wines as a whole are making steady gains in quality, quantity and recognition.
The Commonwealth ranks seventh in the nation for number of wineries; more than 150 wineries operate within its borders, marking more than a 500% increase over 30 years ago. Pennsylvania vintners have won awards at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, International Women’s Wine Competition, San Diego International Wine Competition, International Eastern Wine Competition, Florida State Fair International Wine Competition, Finger Lakes International Wine Competition and Consumer Wine Awards, proving that they can craft wines worthy of any table.
Philadelphia and The Countryside® is ideally suited for winemaking. The temperate climate, paired with gently rolling hills and large bodies of water, make for warmer soil that nurtures a long growing season. The soil itself is flecked with limestone and gravel—qualities that enhance the fertility of a range of grapes. This means wine lovers find many of their favorites around Philadelphia, and while no one varietal has yet emerged as the region’s signature, local winemakers point to the popularity and flavor of their Chardonnays, Chambourcins, Pinot Noirs, Cabernet Sauvignons and even sparkling wines.
Many of the area’s wineries grow their own grapes; others buy them locally, resulting in a tremendous spirit of cooperation among vintners. They’ve joined together to establish two wine trails in Philadelphia’s countryside: The Brandywine Valley Wine Trail bridges Chester County wineries, and the Bucks County Wine Trail unites wineries just north of Philadelphia. Visitors can spend an afternoon or weekend touring the trails. They’re situated in the middle of historic and lush landscapes, near dozens of quaint bed and breakfasts and close to attractions in Center City Philadelphia, New Hope, Washington Crossing, Valley Forge National Historical Park and Pennsylvania Dutch Country.
Brandywine Valley Wine Trail:
Sprinkled across the beautiful and historic area that lies between the cities of Philadelphia, Wilmington, Lancaster and West Chester, the wineries along the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail are located within an easy drive of one another. Each of the wineries/vineyards hosts regular tastings, concerts, craft fairs, wine dinners and joint trail-wide festivals that provide perfect excuses to spend an afternoon or evening sipping in the sunlight or under the stars.
- Started by two couples who turned a hobby into a career by refurbishing a 200-year-old bank barn, Black Walnut Winery uses grapes from neighboring vineyards to produce 18 varietals and blends, including Syrah, Semillon and a blend called Tryst, a 50/50 Pinot Noir/Merlot blend. The tasting room is open Wednesday through Sunday. A variety of events, including live music, take place throughout the year at the winery and its off-site tasting room in downtown Phoenixville. 3000 Lincoln Highway, Sadsburyville, (610) 857-5566; Tasting Room, 260 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, (484) 924-8740, blackwalnutwinery.com
- In 2006, Kurt Kalb began revitalizing the agricultural areas of the farm that his parents purchased in 1946. In 2008, he planted the first grapevines and has slowly expanded Borderland Vineyard with the help of family and friends. As Kalb waits for the vines to mature, he’s producing wines using grapes from nearby vineyards. Borderland wines are available at farmers’ markets and the Paradocx Wine Shop and Café in Kennett Square. Special events take place periodically at the farm, and tours and tastings are offered by appointment. 332 Indiantown Road, Landenberg, (215) 436-9154; Wine Shop, The Market at Liberty Place, 148 W. State Street, Kennett Square, (610) 255-5684, borderlandvineyard.com
- Jim Kirkpatrick began his winemaking journey in 1989 after his wife Carole gave him an at-home kit for his birthday. Soon, Kreutz Creek Vineyards was born, and today the couple produces more than 10 varieties, including Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Franc and Vidal Blanc. This pet-friendly winery’s tasting room is open on weekends and features a concert series in spring and summer. The party lasts all year at the vineyard’s tasting room in downtown West Chester, which hosts live music every weekend. 553 S. Guernsey Road, West Grove, (610) 869-4412; 44 E. Gay Street, West Chester, (610) 436-5006, kreutzcreekvineyards.com
- Nestled among the rolling hills of southern Chester County, Paradocx Vineyard grows Vinifera, Chambourcin and Vidal vines on approximately one-third of its 100 acres. Committed to sustainable practices, the two couples who own the winery have launched two community-supported agriculture programs that encourage members to share produce and equipment. Offering more than two dozen wines by the glass and bottle, this winery is one of the only ones in the state to sell wine by the can. The winery is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and periodically offers special events such as yoga and live music. Tasting Room, 1833 Flint Hill Road, Landenberg, (610) 255-5684; Wine Shop, The Market at Liberty Place, 148 W. State Street, Kennett Square, (610) 255-5684, paradocx.com
- With more than 40 years of experience in the wine business, winemaker Gino Razzi and his daughter Carley Razzi Mack continually produce award-winning wines at Penns Woods Winery. Visitors can savor these notable creations seven days a week at the tasting room and vineyard, where movie screenings and yoga classes take place during warm-weather months. Varietals grown include Traminette, Cabernet and Merlot. As an avid supporter of viticulture research, the Razzi family donates $1 from the sale of every bottle to furthering agricultural research in Pennsylvania. 124 Beaver Valley Road, Chadds Ford, (610) 459-0808, pennswoodswinery.com
Bucks County Wine Trail:
The Bucks County Wine Trail, which clusters its wineries within a few miles of one another, is thriving in its 11th full year of existence. The trail connects nine locally owned wineries. In a true spirit of partnership, the wineries sponsor wine-and-food-pairing festivals and participate in several off-premise fairs that take the wines to the people.
- The family-owned Buckingham Valley Vineyards & Winery cultivates a folksy, welcoming atmosphere, but it uses some of the most sophisticated equipment and methods available. The owners employ high-tech picking, pressing and bottling machinery, and they made the switch to more eco-friendly twist-off bottle closures. On the lawn, the artsy-yet-avant-garde atmosphere continues with a sculpture garden and picnic areas. Tours and tastings run every day except Monday and are self-guided, self-poured and free for groups smaller than eight on weekdays. On weekends, the winery charges a $5 per person tasting fee, which is refundable with a purchase of six or more bottles. 1521 Route 413, Buckingham, (215) 794-7188, pawine.com
- Although the facility and grounds are located on a 200-year-old estate less than a mile from where George Washington crossed the Delaware River in 1776, Crossing Vineyards and Winery prides itself on its modern and sophisticated equipment. Always striving to make wine in the most environmentally responsible way possible, the owners completed a geothermal temperature-controlled wine-aging and storage facility in 2009, and they’re increasingly supplementing their electrical energy use with geothermal and solar energy. The winery hosts summer concerts, wine education events and special happenings for singles, wine novices and others. 1853 Wrightstown Road, Washington Crossing, (215) 493-6500, crossingvineyards.com
- Visitors have been flocking to New Hope Winery for two decades to soak in the many varieties of Pennsylvania vintages. Housed in an 18th-century barn, the winery offers light, fruity whites, versatile blush wines and sophisticated reds. Group and individual tastings are offered daily. After sampling the wine, visitors are welcome to browse the wines, accessories and gourmet foods in the gift shop. The winery hosts live music events throughout the year. 6123 Lower York Road, New Hope, (215) 794-2331, newhopewinery.com
- Wine enthusiasts looking for a do-it-yourself opportunity can pick their own grapes each harvest season at Peace Valley Winery, which overlooks Peace Valley Park. More than 10 acres of land are stocked with grapes, as well as pick-your-own apples, eggplant, melons, berries and other farm-fresh produce. After spending a few hours in the fields, visitors can sample the winery’s bottled wines, produced primarily from grapes grown on site. 300 Old Limekiln Road, Chalfont, (215) 249-9058, peacevalleywinery.com
- Situated on a picturesque tract of land originally deeded by William Penn to his daughters, Rose Bank Winery captures the history of Bucks County with its 1719 manor house and 1835 stone barn that overlook lush pastures stocked with babydoll sheep. Visitors to the estate are encouraged to savor the winery’s red, white and award-winning American fruit wines. Rose Bank offers tastings Thursdays through Sundays and tours at 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays. 258 Durham Road, Newtown, (215) 860-5899, rosebankwinery.com
- In the late 1960s the Ullmans made their first wine on Kings Oak Farm in Huntingdon Valley. In 1985, husband-and-wife team Ed and Lisa purchased 22 acres in central Bucks County and planted an acre of French-American hybrids and native grapes. In 1991, they officially opened their winery and built a tasting room, open Thursdays through Sundays, across the driveway from their house. Today, 18 different varietals—including a traditionally crafted Port—support the 100% estate-grown winery. 2665 Rushland Road, Rushland, (215) 598-0251, rushlandridge.com
- Winemakers at Sand Castle Winery are among the few on the East Coast to produce wines grown exclusively from Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir vines cloned in Europe and grown in their vineyard. Overlooking the Delaware River, the property features a cliff-side castle that houses a 7,000-square-foot cellar where all of the vinification takes place. It’s open daily for tastings, and educational tastings and classes are offered on the weekends. 755 River Road, Erwinna, (800) 722-9463, sandcastlewinery.com
- Unami Ridge Winery opened its tasting room on Memorial Day weekend in 2010. Owners Jim and Kathy Jenks produce nine European-style wines for tasting, with a white German wine called Scheurebe as the premier offering. The tasting room is open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. 2144 Kumry Road, Quakertown, (215) 804-5445, unamiridge.com
- Wycombe Vineyards is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for tastings of varieties like Pinot Grigio, Traminette, Chardonnay and the white Chambourcin (available specific years). The elegant tasting room offers outdoor seating, inspiring visitors to relax in the open air as they sample the fruit of the earth. All wines are produced exclusively from grapes grown at the vineyard, which is situated on a farming estate that’s been in the family since 1925. 1391 Forest Grove Road, Furlong, (215) 598-WINE, wycombevineyards.com
Notable Nearby Vintners:
Though not part of the Bucks County or Brandywine Valley wine trails, these Southeast Pennsylvania wineries each offer memorable experiences for patrons and guests.
- At Cardinal Hollow Winery, guests can sample more than 25 different wines, including varieties with unusual ingredients such as strawberry, peach, pumpkin, cranberry and hazelnut port. Open-minded oenophiles love the award-winning jalapeño wine, which is made entirely from jalapeños. The winery hosts happy hours, comedy nights and wine-education classes. 1830 West Point Pike, West Point, (215) 801-2227, cardinalhollowwinery.com
- Awards keep pouring in for Chaddsford Winery, whose owners turned an 18th-century barn into a premium wine operation in 1982, eventually expanding to their current 30,000-cases-a-year output of dry reds and whites, as well as sweet seasonal favorites. Set amid the rolling hills of the Brandywine Valley, between Longwood Gardens and the Brandywine River Museum of Art, the winery hosts wine-and-food pairings and live music events, in addition to tastings and tours. 632 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, (610) 388-6221, chaddsford.com
- Stone & Key Cellars specializes in bringing visitors the full experience of creating their own wine—from the design, based on a grape-tasting session with professional winemakers, to crushing, pressing, blending, bottling and, of course, drinking. Stone & Key also hosts the Quarter Barrel Club, through which 24 participants meet at a series of pressings, barrel tastings and bottling events to create six wines, all with a focus on fun and making new friends. 435 Doylestown Road, Montgomeryville, (215) 855-4567, stoneandkeycellars.com