When we were invited to the Cornucopia Wine Quest in the Hershey Harrisburg Wine Country, we were skeptical. We’ve tasted wine around the world in regions such as Burgundy, Napa and Sonoma. Wine in central Pennsylvania? The rolling Autumn hills, the Pennsylvania Dutch culture, the pretzels and… the wine???
It turns out that Pennsylvania has a long history of wine going back to the 1600’s. In fact, Pennsylvania was the third largest wine-producing state in the USA in 1850. Sadly, this wine history came to an end with prohibition, and wineries weren’t legal again in the state until the 1960’s.
Flash forward to the present, Pennsylvania now has seven wine regions and eleven wine trails. The Hershey Harrisburg wine trail has 15 wineries spread apart over a few different counties. We were curious to check them out, and this was a great opportunity to get a crash course.
As part of our weekend adventure, we got to check out five wineries in two days.
1. Nissley Vineyards & Winery Estate in Bainbridge, PA
We were warmly greeted and escorted around the charming estate that has been producing wine for 35 years.
The tasting was fun and generous. We were partial to the Bainbridge wines, perhaps because we live on Bainbridge Street in Philadelphia.
2. Tamanend Winery in Lancaster, PA
Although their most popular wine is a margarita wine (just say no!), this winery is producing classically styled wines using modern techniques such as micro oxygenation. Owner Richard Carey honed his skills in California, and his educational tour focused on eco-friendly wine-making.
3. Vineyard at Hershey in Middletown, PA
Situated on a lovely plot of land, this winery has an active tasting room with a big screen tv.
Although we found the wines too sweet for our taste, we liked the winery’s beer program a lot. We got to try the American Special Bitter, the Hefeweizen, the Indian Pale Ale (IPA) and some seasonal brews. The highlight for us was the pumpkin beer – a starchy brew with just the right amount of spices.
4. Buddy Boy Winery & Vineyard in Duncannon, PA
All the way out in Perry County, we felt like we were in the heart of Pennsyltucky, which is not a bad thing for a weekend getaway. Originally an apple orchard for 40+ years, this winery makes wine with lots of fruits including blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cantaloupe and honeydew.
Although we’re not crazy about fruity wine, we would love to hang with owner Bill Warner in his wooden outdoor space and chat about rural life while munching on a massive barbecued rib roast, like the one that was primed and ready for a roasting during our visit.
5. Armstrong Vineyard & Winery in Halifax, PA
Situated in a 200-year old bank barn, this winery produces a wide variety of wines and jams. This winery would be a lovely spot for a wedding or perhaps some Friday night music.
As wine lovers, we were not blown away by the wine produced in our home state. We wanted to love the wine, we really did. Although we thoroughly enjoyed the countryside and the wine owners, the wine just wasn’t complex or dry enough for us.
Beer In Pennsylvania Wine Country
Funny enough since we were on a wine tour, we discovered that the beer in the Hershey Harrisburg area is awesome. We loved the beer at The Vineyard at Hershey and at Tröegs Brewing Company. (This is not a total surprise since Troegenator is a staple in the 2foodtrippers refrigerator.)
Tröegs has a bustling brewery in Hershey with tours, a tasting room and a restaurant serving lots of beer-friendly food. Trying the different beers was fun, but getting our first glass of Mad Elf of the season was the real treat of the brewery visit.
Going to Hershey and Harrisburg is a perfect get-away distance from Philadelphia since it’s just a two-hour drive or train ride. We went this time for the wine, but we’ll happily go back next time for the beer.
Disclosure: The tours and tastings were provided by the Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau as part of our participation in the Fall Cornucopia Media Weekend. As always, all opinions expressed are completely our own.