Thursday, December 27, 2012

Toast the new year with local sparkling wine

Not into champagne but still want to ring in the new year next week with something bubbly? Then try a local  sparkling wine instead. Here are a few suggestions for sparkling wines made by local Lehigh Valley Wine Trail wineries:

Amore VineyardsWhite Mist - Slightly dry, tingly and sparkling. Celebration - Pink, sparkling, spicy fun. Blueberry Mist - Sweet and bubbly with natural blueberry flavor. Peach Mist - Sweet and bubbly with natural peach flavor. Blend it with orange juice to make a great mimosa. Strawberry Mist - Sweet and bubbly with natural strawberry flavor.

Blue Mountain: While they don't have any sparkling wines right now the winery recommends mixing their Mountain Frost wine with club soda and canned or fresh peaches for a fun wine cocktail instead.

Clover Hill WineryBlackberry Sparkler - A sweet, sparkling wine made with blackberry.
Brut - Produced in the traditional method of making sparkling wine, Méthode Champenoise, our Brut has no perceivable sweetness, showcasing yeasty and fruity flavors.
Generations Sparkling Pinot Noir - Made in the Méthode Champenoise fashion, this sparkling wine is produced from 100% Pinot Noir grapes from their Broxspen vineyard. This dry sparkler shows delicate flavors of strawberry mingling with a classic yeasty flavor.

Pinnacle RidgeBrut Rosé and Blanc de Blanc 

Franklin HillBrut (Methode Champenoise)

VynecrestSparkling Chardonnay - A dry sparkling with great balance of acid and fruit, this 100% Chardonnay sparkling wine goes great with seafood and appetizers.

Keep in mind that at this time of year supplies may be limited for some sparkling wines. So we suggest calling ahead to the winery you plan to visit to verify they still have the one you want in stock.

Here are a few tips for your sparkling wine, courtesy of Clover Hill:

  • Always have your bubbly well chilled prior to opening. We suggest putting the bottle in the refrigerator for a couple hours and then the freezer for 20 minutes prior to opening. 
  • As much fun as it is to shake the bottle and shoot the cork, you do lose most of the wine when you do so! Remove the wire hood on the bottle and keep your thumb on top of the cork. Hold the cork in one hand and slowly twist the bottle. Always have a towel and a champagne flute close by. 
  • Sparkling wines always add a festive feel to any celebration, but they are also great food wines. Some of our favorite bubbly pairings include a creamy brie with quince paste, steamed lobsters, crab stuffed mushrooms or smoked salmon. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Happy Holidays from the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail

Christmas is almost here and we know that some of you might be behind on your shopping list. But no worries; our wineries can help. Many of them have extended holiday hours this weekend and some will even be open on Christmas Eve Day for a few hours. Be sure to call ahead to the winery or wineries that you plan to visit to make sure they will be there to greet you.

Local wine makes a great gift and requires little or no wrapping.  Several of our wineries sell gift bags, boxes and other holders in their gift shops to make the presentation perfect. Pair the wine with snacks, dips, wine glasses and other wine accessories to make it into a vino-themed present.

We'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued patronage of our eight family-owned and operated Lehigh Valley wineries. We are honored to have our wines served at your holiday parties and meals with family and friends.

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Carol with Franklin Hill Vineyards at Bethlehem's Live Advent Calendar

Vote For Our Door!

Amanda and our Bethlehem crew have outdone themselves this year. Come shop our store in Downtown Bethlehem and see why you should vote for our door. Once you vote you'll be entered for a chance to win a $1,000 gift card to participating Bethlehem businesses!

Come Carol with Us!

Bethlehem's Live Advent Calendar is the only one of its kind in the country. This unique event runs through December and features a different business each night. Franklin Hill will be the Special Sponsor on December 20 at 5:30 p.m. outside the doors of the Goundie House located at 505 Main St.

We hope you will join us on this very special evening. We will sing along with The Lehigh Valley Harmonizers to some of our favorite holiday carols, warm up with some mulled Sir Walters Red and enjoy beautiful downtown Bethlehem.

Give the gift of local wine

Our retail stores have extended their hours to help you get your shopping done! Call our stores in Bethlehem, Easton and Tannersville for details.

Our holiday message to all of you

We've had one of the most amazing years in Franklin Hill Vineyards history. New wines, some incredible awards and the very best customers are just a few of the things we celebrate this year. We would like to extend our warmest wishes to you and yours this holiday season. We hope you take time to enjoy the things that really matter... Peace, Love and Wine! Cheers!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What's happening this month at Blue Mountain Vineyards

Visit Blue Mountain Vineyards this month for wine specials, live music and a special event!

Sunday Blues from 2-5 p.m.:
$5 admission per person. Please call or email us to make your reservations.

12.16 - Scott Marshall & The Hillbilly Souls
12.23 - Valerie Borman
12.30 - Jake Kaligis & Mike Rauscher's Dynamic Duo

December Specials:

$1 off 2006 Blue Heron Meritage
$1 off 2011 Chardonnay

March Madness Passports

Stop by the winery to get yours today before they're gone! Passports are $35 each. If it's easier, you can also purchase passports online at

3rd Annual Christmas Blessings Toy Drive

Join us this Sunday, December 16 as Scott Marshall and The Hillbilly Souls host their 3rd Annual Christmas Blessings Toy Drive. All proceeds will be delivered to the Pediatric Units at Lehigh Valley Hospital. All gifts must be unwrapped and appropriate for children ages birth to 17. Gift cards and monetary donations will also be accepted. We're looking forward to what is sure to be a wonderful day of great music and holiday cheer!

All of us at Blue Mountain Vineyards would like to extend a very special thank you to each and every one of you for your patronage this past year. We wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Holiday hours and Men's Shopping Night from Clover Hill Winery

The holidays are near and there is no better time to open a bottle of Clover Hill wine to enjoy with family and friends. Here are our favorite December selections:

~ Need something with a hint of sweetness and bright flavors to sip on while catching up with an old friend? Try the Vidal Blanc.

~ If you are looking for a full body, rich red wine to serve with your prime rib dinner, we suggest our Cabernet Sauvignon.

~ Heat up your holiday party by warming a bottle of Clover Hill’s Holiday wine.

~ Why not try replacing dessert with a glass of our new release, Chocolate Cabernet?

We wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Thank you for choosing Clover Hill wines, we appreciate your business. Cheers!

Holiday Hours:
All Clover Hill locations have extended hours for December.

The Winery in Breinigsville
December 1-31
Monday - Saturday: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Sunday: Noon - 5 p.m.
CLOSED: - Christmas Day, New Year's Day

Allentown Fairgrounds Farmer's Market
Special Christmas week hours:
Sunday, December 23: 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Monday, December 24: 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Owner's Selection - Niagra
A sweet, white dessert wine that is a great sensation for the nose. Just give it a good chill and sip away. An awesome smell and taste like the fresh grapes just popped out of their skin into the wine glass.

Enjoy a 10% discount on Niagara during December. Receive an additional 10% discount on the Owner's Selection when included in a case purchase.

Clover Hill Winery at Sorrelli Jewelry for Men’s Holiday Shopping Night
220 West Main Street
Kutztown, PA 19530
Thursday, December 13 - 5 - 9 p.m.

Calling all men: If you are looking for some sparkle for that special person be sure to visit Sorrelli Jewelry. They will have plenty of staff on site to assist you in finding that perfect piece of jewelry, while Clover Hill Winery staff will assist you in finding a locally produced premium bottle of wine. Clover Hill will have a sampling of wines to help you choose the right wine to enjoy during your holiday celebrations. Cheers!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Vynecrest Customer Appreciation Weekend is here!

Customer Appreciation Weekend

Another great year is coming to a close and as our way of saying thank you, Thursday, Dec. 6 - Sunday, Dec.9, Vynecrest will be offering 25% off 12 or more bottles. Just print out this coupon and bring it in to the winery to receive your discount. We will also have live music in the Vyneskeller on Saturday. This discount is valid at the winery only (Breinigsville or Kutztown locations) and cannot be combined with any other offers. For our customers who can't make it out to the winery this weekend, we are offering free shipping. See below for details.

While you are visiting the winery don't forget to pick up a gift for the wine lover in your life. We have Cherry DiVyne packaged with chocolate for $20 (hint: makes a great hostess gift), wine-scented candles and many more gifts. We also have a few March Madness passports left but they will sell out soon.

News and Events

December Specials:
* Three Pack of the Month - 3 Spiced Winter Red for $25.00
* Wine of the Month - Vynecrest Red 10% off

* December 1 - Live music in the Vyneskeller, Rob & Marty, 1:30-4:30 pm
* December 8 - Live music in the Vyneskeller, Jake Kaligis, 1:30-4:30 pm
* December 15 - Live music in the Vyneskeller, Arianne , 1:30-4:30 pm

Holiday Hours (Breinigsville):
* Dec 1 - 23: 11 am - 5 pm
* Dec 24: 10 am - 2 pm
* Dec 25: Closed
* Dec 26 - 30: 11 am - 5 pm
* Dec 31: 10 am - 2 pm
* Jan 1 - 11: Closed
* Reopen January 12: 11 am - 5 pm

Holiday Hours (Kutztown):
* Dec 1 - 23: Noon - 6 pm
* Dec 24 & 25: Closed
* Dec 26 - 30: Noon - 6 pm
* Dec 31 - Jan 11: Closed
* Reopen January 12: Noon - 6 pm

Glass Half Empty
By Sam Landis

I am sure all of you have heard about the five S's of Wine Tasting - See, Swirl, Sniff, Sip, Savor. They are designed to give both the novice wine taster the same ammunition to enjoy wine as the expert connoisseur. I am here to tell you that the five S's... S-S-S-S-Stink! More often than not, anyone re-enacting these five S's are either a novice trying to fit in and not stick out, or a pretentious faux expert trying to impress, both of which take away from the purpose of a winery visit which is fun.

I have come up with my own five S's of wine tasting based on my personal experiences of visiting wineries. I like to go to other wineries for two reasons - time with friends/family and the wine, in that order. I believe the combination of the company you are with and the wines that you taste make or break any winery visit. We are not a library, so get out, interact and have fun!

1. Solicit: Be inquisitive, ask the tasting room people questions such as What are you known for? or What kind of wines do you like? Get some history of the place and the people, and if most wineries are like ours they will have plenty to tell you.

2. Select: Think about the wines you're going to select; if you like sweet wines or dry wines, stick to what you know. Maybe work with the person you are visiting with to share tastings and expand your horizons. Sometimes maybe just try white wines at wineries one day and then just try red wines another time, but put some thought into what you want to taste.

3. Smell: In my opinion this is the most important of the original five S's. You can tell a lot of good and bad things from aroma of wine more so than any other sense. Talk to the people you are visiting with and have them smell your wine. Its fun to see if they pick up the same things that you might.

4. Swoosh: I know we have all done shots before... don't lie. And the reason we drink it like that is so we don't taste it! But instead expose the whole of your mouth and tongue for ideal exposure to wine. The tongue detects four distinct flavors: bitter, sour, salty and sweet. So get that wine in there and mix it like a cocktail in your mouth.

5. Share: Talk about what you liked or didn't like to both the people you are with and your tasting room server. Sometimes friends and family know each other's tastes better than we do. So if you find something that you think they will like, steer them in that direction. This can also apply to purchasing cases of wine and sharing them over the holidays.

There you have it - my revamped five S's. Wine tasting should not be a chore so get out there and enjoy it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pinnacle Ridge plans Customer Appreciation Weekend

December 8 and 9

We can't believe it's that time of year already. Every December we set aside a couple a weekend to thank you, our loyal customers. We have Chef Ben working overtime, creating some tasty morsels, each to be paired with one of the Pinnacle Ridge wines. We would love to see you at the winery from noon to 5 p.m. on December 8 and 9 to check out our food and wine pairings and also our new releases and old favorites.

The holidays are nearly here. Are you ready? We can help! We have more than wine. Check out our gift cards, wine baskets, gourmet food items, fine stemware, a huge selection of colorful gift bags for this wonderful time of year. Create a custom basket by picking out your favorite items and we'll put it together for you. In regards to our wine, inventory is getting low on several varieties so stop by before they disappear for good.


After a couple of extreme years, 2010 being exceptionally hot and dry and 2011 being exceptionally wet, we had a "normal" year in 2012. Notice that "normal" is in quotes. The reality is that no two vintages are the same; there are always twists and turns that are unique to each vintage and 2012 was no exception.

March and April were exceptionally warm leading to a record early bud break. Early bud break is wonderful from the standpoint that it usually leads to an early harvest (resulting in riper fruit and a better chance of harvest beating the fall hurricanes). The downside of the early bud break is that there is risk of frost damage.  The general rule of thumb is that May 15 is the last day of frost in our area.

The estate vineyard escaped frosts but our friends at Round Ridge Farms were not so lucky and had significant frost damage to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Merlot in late April. May and June were fairly normal with regard to rain. Temperatures started rising at the end of June and early July to record levels with over a week straight over 90 degrees. It got to the point that after 22 years of living in a home without air conditioning I finally called a contractor to install air conditioning. At this point we were thinking that we had another 2010 on our hands with the exception that we had more rain in 2012 than in 2010.

July and August provided continued warm temperatures and also normal rainfalls. The generally warm conditions throughout the summer coupled with the early bud break did result in a record early harvest for us. We commenced harvest with our Cayuga for our Blanc de Blanc and Pinot Noir for our Brut Rose on August 31. September brought cloudy weather for the first week and normal rainfall and temperatures. We avoided hurricane weather but it wasn't exceptionally dry. October continued the same trend with normal temperatures and rainfall. We missed an exceptional vintage due to normal rainfall in August and September but we did end up with a "normal" vintage!

Watch for the first 2012's to start coming out in February.