Tuesday, August 31, 2010

We're ready for our closeup!

About two weeks ago, John Landis from Vynecrest Winery in Breinigsville and Elaine Pivinski from Franklin Hill Winery in Bangor attended a taping of the RCN show "Community Spotlight."

During the interview they discussed the founding of the wine trail more than a decade ago, the history of their respective wineries, and the remaining three fall Lehigh Valley Wine Trail events - Harvest Weekend, Chambourcin Weekend and Nouveau Weekend.

Both winery owners did a great job with the interview by host Dan Mowdy and were more than happy to answer his many questions. We get to see the results of their work when the program airs tonight at 7 p.m. on RCN channel 4. It also re-airs on Thursday night at the same time and channel. So if you miss it tonight, there's always a chance to catch it in a few days.

If you have RCN as your cable service, set your VCR or Tivo now to tape tonight's episode and then come back here tomorrow and tell us what you thought of it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Update on last Saturday's Great PA Wine Toast

By now you no doubt know that last Saturday wineries across the state attempted to break a Guinness Book World Record for the largest toast. This was a promotion by the PA Wine Association created to help support and publicize the state's wine industry.

Thousands of us gathered at wineries, and even the Seven Springs Wine Festival, to toast at 4:15 p.m. to the winning toast as written by a local woman from Bangor and read by race car legend Mario Andretti.

Alas, we did not break the toasting record, but we think that everyone will agree that we had a great time trying!

A few of our wineries have started sharing their photos with us of the toast which we are posting to our Facebook fan page and our Flickr account. We've also posted the video of Mario's toast to our YouTube Channel. So even if you didn't join us that day, now you can get a feeling for what it was like.

Maybe we should try again next year?...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

An summer update from Vynecrest Winery

August is going to be a busy month for Vynecrest, both in the vineyard and in the winery. We have music every Saturday in August, the Great Pennsylvania Wine Toast and a festival at Seven Springs. Due to the great weather, we will likely be harvesting at the end of the month also. We just launched our new website. Check it out at www.vynecrest.com.

August Specials: 
  • Wine of the month - Traminette, 10% off**
  • 3 pack of the month - 3 Vynecrest White for $25.00**
**at winery only

August Entertainment

August 14 & 15

Winemaker tour of the vineyard: Saturday 1 pm
Music in the Vyneskeller: Arianne, Saturday 1-4:30 pm

August 21

Music in the Vyneskeller: Angela Easterling 1-4:30 pm

August 28

Music in the Vyneskeller: Arianne 1-4:30 pm
Winemakers tour of the vineyard 1 pm

In The Vineyard

2010 is continuing to look like one of the best vintages ever for Vynecrest. The hot, dry weather is great for the vines. Verasion (when the grapes turn color) has occurred on almost all of the varieties in the vineyard. It looks like the last variety to turn will be Cabernet Franc. This is normal as Cabernet Franc is usually the last variety harvested every year.

Now that we've gone through verasion the grapes will start to get plump and the sugar levels will rise. This means the grapes will not only taste better to us, but to the birds as well. Bird damage is our biggest threat until we harvest the grapes. To combat the bird damage, we put out squawk boxes and constantly patrol the vineyard. The squawk boxes play predatory bird sounds and are strategically placed throughout the vineyard. If anyone wants a couple hundred thousand starlings as pets, come on out and start taking them home!

Monday, August 9, 2010

More details for Great PA Wine Toast this Saturday, August 14!

A few more of our Lehigh Valley Wine Trail wineries have announced their plans for this coming Saturday's Great PA Wine Toast event.They include:

Vynecrest Winery in Breinigsville will have a tour with the Winemaker at 1 p.m., Arianne Rox live music in the Vyneskeller from 1:30-4:30 p.m. and the big toast starting at 3:30 p.m. All participants get a keepsake souvenir glass. All events are free of charge. It is also the Dog Days of August and Vynecrest will offer hot dogs on the grill for $1.

Sorrenti Cherry Valley Vineyards in Saylorsburg will serve 1/2 glasses of their gold medal winning Seyval Blanc wine, raising them for the big toast.

Amore Vineyards in Nazareth will be introducing wines from their 2009 harvest, just bottled on August 12.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A weekend Jazz Jam and an update from Pinnacle Ridge

SKIP MOYER'S JAZZ JAM (Wine, Art and Music-all in one day!)
Sunday, August 8 from 3-6 PM

Pinnacle Ridge hosts Skip Moyer's fourth Jazz Jam of the 2010 Summer Season. Skip delivers something new each jam along with guitarist Andy Warren, drummer John Fundyga and Skip on bass, Jonathan Saraga joins on trumpet.  

Christy Allen (yes, wife of Brad) will make a special appearance and sing some jazz standards for some of her favorite customers (wine and jazz enthusiasts!)

There will be food available. Pinnacle Ridge is serving their Bubbly (with or without Concord) or any wine of your choosing, lots of fresh fruit and a selection of meats, cheeses and crackers from our neighbors, Dietrich’s Country Store and Bad Farms. Sounds good, just like jazz!  No matter if the weather is hot because there will be lots of fans and a misting tent. Great wine, food and jazz is COOL!

There is a $5 cover.  However, this event is free for 18 years and under and free to all case club members! Buy a case of wine on Sunday and stay and listen for free!


Late-July and early-August is a very exciting time in the vineyard.  Throughout the year we track the progress of the vineyard by observing biological changes in the vines. For example bud-break is the first observation followed by bloom and the last observation prior to harvest is Verasion. Verasion is when the hard, green grapes begin to soften and change color.  Black varieties first go to light purple and then darken. White varieties change from an opaque green to a more translucent color.   

Consistent with our early bud-break caused by very warm weather in early April, Verasion is occurring about two weeks ahead of normal. This means that the two-week jump we got at bud-break has been maintained.  This comes as no surprise based on the beautiful hot and dry weather we have had this summer. If the weather stays hot and dry and the harvest hurricanes miss us, the 2010 vintage could be the best vintage ever in our 18 years of harvesting grapes.

By the way, I don’t spend all my time in the winery and vineyard.  Every now and then I get to enjoy some gardening. We’re swimming in tomatoes, basil, potatoes, zucchini, string beans, eggplant and flowers. It is not only a great year for grapes but for the garden as well!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Blue Mountain Winery announces plans for PA Wine Toast event on 8/14

Our wineries are gearing up for the big event on Saturday, August 14 at 3:30 p.m. What event is that, you ask? Why, it's The Great Pennsylvania Wine Toast!

The goal of the state-wide promotion is to celebrate another record-setting year for the Pennsylvania wine industry. In the process, we hope to set a world record for the largest wine tasting ever conducted!

Proud Pennsylvanian, wine lover and racing legend, Mario Andretti, will serve as toastmaster, as he leads all locations in a simultaneous toast via video. Proceeds from the event will support The Fund to Benefit Children & Youth, right here in the Lehigh Valley. The organization helps provide items and services to children and families in need.

Blue Mountain Wine & Vineyards in New Tripoli just shared their lineup for the special event with us. Here are the details:

1:30 PM  -  The Vineyard Tasting begins! They will offer 5 wines produced from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc.  Each of these wines will be served amongst the vines that produced the wines and they will accompany each wine with a cheese pairing.

2:30 PM – Tasting of the last of the 5 wines, and Lucas Lasagna, a local vocalist, will entertain with some Frank Sinatra standards as the tasting is completed and everyone returns to the winery.

3 PM – They will begin to form lines for counting, to be completed by 3:45 PM.

4 PM – Mario Andretti will perform the toast via live web video.

4:30-6 PM – Lucas will continue to entertain on the outdoor deck with panoramic views of the vineyards and mountains.

5:30 PM – Blue Mountain will auction off the bottle of wine and the wine barrel table signed by Mario Andretti with the proceeds to go to The Fund to Children and Youth.  

Please plan to join us for this special event! More details to come!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Goal of 100

Today's Taste of the Trail blog post was written by guest blogger and wine aficionado Jim Hutchings. 

While researching several Lehigh Valley wine grapes last year, I stumbled across an exclusive club which is open to the public. While open to the public, it is very difficult to achieve membership. It’s called The Wine Century Club and to join, the only criterion is for you to have tasted 100 different grapes in wine.

Some varieties, especially the so-called noble grapes, are easy to think of; that gets us six grapes. Then there are plenty of common varieties I’m sure most of us have tried such as Syrah, Zinfandel, Pinot Grigio/Gris, and Sangiovese. So now we’re 10% to our goal. This might be harder than originally thought…

According to the website, “It's a simple idea, but it's not as easy to become a member as you may think. One Master Sommelier could only come up with 82. Of the thousands of applications downloaded, less than 3% are completed.”

Thankfully our Lehigh Valley Wineries have been growing and producing wine from grapes which are considered more exotic, simply because they grow extremely well in the individual microclimates in the Lehigh Valley. Here are 10 more of the most exotic grapes I am aware of being available locally to add to your list: 
  • Big Creek - try Frontenac, Marechal Foch, and Regent.
  • Cherry Valley - has a Baco Noir available, though several wineries use this to blend.
  • Clover Hill - add DeChaunac to your list.
  • Galen Glen - has a nice Grüner Veltliner, and Zweigelt is a new addition to their list.
  • Traminette is gaining popularity and is available at Galen Glen, Pinnacle Ridge, and Vynecrest.
  • Vynecrest also has Blaufränkisch (as Lemberger) and Noiret (one of the grapes in Vyneskeller Select).
  • Make sure you’ve put Chambourcin, the Jewel of the Lehigh Valley, on your list!
After stretching my memory and actively seeking out rare grapes last year I’ve managed to put 87 grapes on my tasted list. Membership into the exclusive Wine Century Club is coming soon!