With geography, climate and growing conditions that mirror those of the Bordeaux Region in France, southeastern Pennsylvania continues to emerge as a force in American winemaking.
Pennsylvania ranks seventh in the nation for number of wineries—more than 200—and produces nearly two million gallons of wine per year. The Philadelphia region is specifically ideal for producing wine. The temperate climate, gently rolling hills and large bodies of water, create warmer soil that nurtures a long growing season. The soil itself is flecked with limestone and gravel, enhancing the fertility of a range of grapes. Local winemakers point to the popularity and flavor of their Chardonnays, Chambourcins, Pinot Noirs, Cabernet Sauvignons and sparkling wines.
Pennsylvania vintners have won awards at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, International Women’s Wine Competition, New York International Wine Competition, International Eastern Wine Competition, World Wine Championships, Berlin International Wine Competition.
Many of the area’s wineries grow their own grapes. Others buy them locally, resulting in a spirit of cooperation among vintners. Several vintners have joined together to establish three wine trails in Philadelphia’s countryside: The Brandywine Valley Wine Trail bridges Chester County wineries. The Bucks County Wine Trail unites wineries just north of Philadelphia. The Montgomery County Wine Trail runs northwest of the city. These trails are 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—making for ideal afternoon and weekend getaways.
Brandywine Artisan Wine Trail (35 miles from Center City):
Sprinkled across the beautiful, historic area that lies between the cities of Philadelphia, Wilmington, Lancaster and West Chester, the wineries of the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail are within an easy drive of one another. Each 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. brandywineartisanwinetrail.com
- Black Walnut Winery – Two couples turned a hobby into a career, refurbishing a 198-year-old bank barn into a producer of 14 locally grown varietals and blends, including Syrah, Merlot and Tryst, a Pinot Noir/Merlot blend. Black Walnut’s winery and offsite tasting room in downtown Phoenixville (open Wednesday through Sunday) host a variety of events, including live music, throughout the year. Winery, 3000 Lincoln Highway, Sadsburyville, (610) 857-5566; Tasting Room, 260 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, (484) 924-8740, blackwalnutwinery.com
- Borderland Vineyard – In 2006, Kurt Kalb began revitalizing the agricultural areas of the family farm that his parents purchased in 1946. In 2008, he planted the first grapevines and has slowly expanded the vineyard with the help of family and friends. Tastings run on Saturdays. 332 Indiantown Road, Landenberg, (215) 436-9154, borderlandvineyard.com
- Chaddsford Winery – Awards keep pouring in for this vineyard 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 between Longwood Gardens and the Brandywine River Museum of Art, the Baltimore Pike winery hosts wine-and-food pairings and live music events, in addition to tastings and tours. A second location in Bucks County’s Peddler’s Village offers tastings and sales. 632 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, (610) 388-6221; Peddler’s Village, 20 Merchants Row, Lahaska, (215) 794-9655; chaddsford.com
- Flickerwood Wine Cellars – This vintner produces both traditional—pinot noir, Riesling, chardonnay—and quirky—MapleVine, strawberry rhubarb, spiced peach—wines, offered in two tasting rooms, one in Chester County, the other in northwestern Pennsylvania. 33 S. 3rd Street, Oxford, (610) 932-9498; 309 Flickerwood Road, Kane, (814) 837-7566; flickerwood.com
- Galer Estate Vineyard and Winery – Wines at Galer are hand-produced exclusively from grapes grown at this Chester County vineyard. The winemakers let the terroir express itself, taking a mostly hands-off approach once the grapes are harvested in order to generate different characteristics for each vintage. For sampling, there’s a tasting room just off the fermentation room and a deck overlooking the Chardonnay vineyard. 700 Folly Hill Road, Kennett Square, Chester County, (484) 899-8013, galerestate.com
- Grace Winery and Sweetwater Farm – On 50 acres along the Brandywine Valley in Montgomery County, this vineyard, winery and inn welcomes overnight guests in its Manor House and Cottages. Daytime visitors explore a renovated 1750 bank barn-turned-winery, tasting room and event space. 50 Sweetwater Road, Glen Mills, (610) 459-4711, gracewinery.com
- J. Maki Winery – One of the few local wineries to produce sparkling wine, J. Maki offers tastings of its champagnes by the glass, along with Chardonnays, Gewürztraminer, Syrah and ice wine in its handsome tasting room. 200 Grove Road, Elverson, (610) 286-7754, jmakiwinery.com
- Kreutz Creek Vineyards – Jim Kirkpatrick began his winemaking journey in 1989 after his wife Carole gave him an at-home kit for his birthday. Soon a full-fledged winery was born, and today the couple produces a dozen varieties, including two dessert wines and a holiday wassail. This winery’s tasting room is open on weekends and features an almost year-round concert and movie series. The party continues at the vineyard’s tasting room in 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
- Paradocx Vineyard – Nestled among rolling hills, this bucolic vineyard uses almost exclusively homegrown grapes in its dozens of wines. Though shoppers can buy Paradocx wines at two retail shops, two farmers’ markets and through a mail order wine club, at the winery they can sample wine, hard ciders out of pouches, special “paint” cans or flights. The winery is open on weekends, with happy hour on Fridays. Tasting Room, 1833 Flint Hill Road, Landenberg, (610) 255-5684; Shops: 148 W. State Street, Kennett Square, (610) 255-5684; Pinot Boutique, 227 Market Street, (215) 627-WINE; Booths Corner Farmers Market, 1362 Naamans Creek Road, Garnet Valley; Westtown Farmers Market, 1165 Wilmington Pike, West Chester; paradocx.com
- Penns Woods Winery – With more than 40 years of experience in the wine business, former wine importer and Abruzzese winemaker Gino Razzi produces internationally award-winning bottles. Visitors savor his creations at the tasting room; buy locally made honey, chocolate and candles in the gift shop and do yoga in the vineyard. The actual winery is located offsite and not open to the public. 124 Beaver Valley Road, Chadds Ford, (610) 459-0808, pennswoodsevents.com
- Stargazers Vineyard and Winery – Maintained and operated by owners Alice and John Weygandt, this Brandywine riverside vineyard is near the Stargazers Stone, where Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon used celestial navigation to survey the border between Pennsylvania and Maryland. Open seasonally, Stargazers lets visitors wander past its vines and into its production winery. A tasting of five samples for $5 is available every Saturday and Sunday. 1024 Wheatland Drive, Coatesville, (610) 486-0422; Wine Shop, 26 Main Street, Lititz, (717) 625-3932, stargazersvineyard.com
- Va La Vineyards – Lauded three times as one of the country’s best wineries by The Wine Advocate and The Daily Meal, Va La prides itself on individuality. Winemaker Anthony Vietri sections his tiny vineyard into four plots where he co-cultivates vines and lets the soil determine what they turn into. 8822 Gap Newport Pike, Avondale, (610) 268-2702, valavineyards.com
- Wayvine Vineyard & Winery – A pair of Penn State alums put their agriculture degrees to good use, hand planting 16 acres of grapes on a Nottingham farm. Their roster of wines leans European in style but does include Carmine, a deep red varietal developed on North American soil. Wayvine hosts casual tastings on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons. 4374 Forge Road, (610) 220-0128, wayvine.wine
Bucks County Wine Trail (35 miles from Center City):
The Bucks County Wine Trail clusters its wineries within a few miles of one another and continues to thrive well past its 10th anniversary. 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.
- Buckingham Valley Vineyards & Winery – Celebrating more than 50 years in business, Buckingham Valley is one of the state’s oldest farm wineries—and Bucks Country’s sole winery producing naturally fermented sparkling wine using the Champagne method. There’s a folksy atmosphere on the 40-acre site, with a sculpture garden and picnic areas. Self-guided tours and tastings run every day but Monday. On weekends, the winery charges a $5 per person tasting fee, refundable with the purchase of a case. 1521 Route 413, Buckingham, (215) 794-7188, pawine.com
- Crossing Vineyards and Winery – With a facility and grounds on a 200-year-old estate less than a mile from where George Washington crossed the Delaware River in 1776, this winery prides itself on making restrained, European-style wines that have won more than 120 awards. To reduce the need for pesticides and other environmentally harmful or inefficient farming practices, the solar-powered winery uses lasers for even vine planting and employs a computerized weather station to gather useful data on the vineyard’s microclimates. The winery hosts private events, summer concerts, wine education events and special happenings for singles, wine novices and others. 1853 Wrightstown Road, Newtown, (215) 493-6500, crossingvineyards.com
- Rose Bank Winery – Situated on a picturesque tract originally deeded by William Penn to his daughters, this colonial estate captures the history of Bucks County with its 1719 stone manor house and 1835 barn, both overlooking lush pasture. Visitors to the estate are encouraged to savor the winery’s red, white, fruit and specialty wines such as chocolate orange port and coffee-like Cappavino. 258 Durham Road, Newtown, (215) 860-5899, rosebankwinery.com
- Rushland Ridge Vineyard & Winery – 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. Today, more than a dozen different varietals—including a traditionally crafted port—support the winery. 2665 Rushland Road, Rushland, (215) 598-0251, rushlandridge.com
- Sand Castle Winery – This winery is one of the few on the East Coast to produce wines grown exclusively from vinis vinfera—cloned European vines, in this case, from Germany and France. Overlooking the Delaware River, the property features a cliff-side castle that houses a 30-foot deep cellar where all of the vinification takes place. It’s open for various levels of tastings, from casual sips to extensive food pairings; public classes round out the experience. Two more Taste locations in Phoenixville and Warrington offer food to accompany wine by the glass. Winery, 755 River Road, Erwinna, (800) 722-9463; Taste Phoenixville, 236 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, (484) 924-9530; Taste Warrington, 711 Easton Road, Valley Square Shopping Center, Warrington, (215) 343-4528, sandcastlewinery.com
- Unami Ridge Winery – Open since 2010, this boutique bottle shop and winery specializes in European whites and premium reds. Owners Jim and Kathy Jenks produce just nine wines, with a white German 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 – This winery sits on an estate that has been in Rich Fraser’s family since 1925, first supporting a pork businesses, later, in 1965, producing sod. Now, 10 of the 65 acres of fertile farmland are devoted to growing classic vinifera and French-Hybrid varietals in various stages of maturity. 1391 Forest Grove Road, Furlong, (215) 598-WINE, wycombevineyards.com
Montgomery County Wine Trail (25 miles from Center City):
As the state’s smallest and region’s newest wine trail includes four wineries that coexist alongside old stone houses, 18th-century taverns and lush golf courses.
- A’Dello Vineyard and Winery – Taking a cue from the Old Country, recipes and methods here come from hundreds of years of family winemaking in Italy. Visitors bring their own food to enjoy on weekend days while tasting signature reds and whites, semi-sweet whites, blushes and and fruity wines, available on the patio and at the wine bar. 21 Simmons Road, Perkiomenville, (610) 754-0006, adellowines.com
- Boyd’s Cardinal Hollow Winery – This unconventional house of fermentation allows guests to sample more than 35 different wines, including varieties made with unusual ingredients such as mango, rhubarb, pumpkin and cranberry. Open-minded oenophiles love the hazelnut port, award-winning jalapeño wine and whiskey mead. The family-owned winery hosts wine classes and sells at stores and markets throughout the area. Winery, 1830 West Point Pike, West Point, (215) 801-2227; Stores: 5860 Lower York Road, Lahaska; Pappy’s Orchard Store, 2576 Cassel Road, Coopersburg, (215) 679-3981, cardinalhollowwinery.com
- Country Creek Vineyard & Winery – Crafting wines from Pennsylvania-grown fruit and French-American hybrid grapes is a family affair at this winery on the border of Bucks and Montgomery counties. A circa 1856 dairy barn serves as a production facility, but it’s not all business: The site hosts live bands, yoga and other events. 133 Cressman Road, Telford, (215) 723-6516
- Stone & Key Cellars – A bespoke winemaking program brings 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 drinking. If that sounds like too much work, visitors can sample and purchase premade house wines and ciders in the tasting room or participate in 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
Notable Nearby Vintners:
Though not part of the local wine trails, these Southeast Pennsylvania wineries each offer memorable experiences for patrons and guests.
- Karamoor Estate Winery – The wines produced at the elaborate Montgomery County winery, praised by Philadelphia Inquirer food critic Craig LaBan, benefit from the collaboration of two very educated and experienced winemakers and viticulturalists. Grapes grow on family property that’s been farmed since before the days of William Penn. Private tastings and tours are available. 6118-6120 Butler Pike, Blue Bell/Fort Washington, (215) 641-0233, karamoorwines.com
- New Hope Winery – Housed in an 18th-century barn equipped with a robust gift, antique and gourmet food shop, this combination wine bar and music/entertainment venue sells various fruit wines, a rosé and a wide variety of reds and whites. The winery doesn’t offer tours, as its vineyard is off-site, but there’s more than enough other activity to keep even casual visitors entertained from Thursday to Sunday. 6123 Lower York Road, New Hope, (215) 794-2331, newhopewinery.com
- Vivat Alfa Winery – Open since 2013 and formerly known as Alpha and Omega, this Bucks County winery is a simple operation run out of a small fieldstone barn dating back to 1750. Winemaker Richard Adamek went to winemaking school in the former Czechoslovakia and grows his European grapes on plot of land next to the barn. 3612 Stump Road, Doylestown, (267) 614-5011, vivatalfawinery.com
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