Friday, January 31, 2014

Lehigh Valley wineries bring home medals and awards in January

Our wineries have been busy winning awards already this year, and we're only one month into 2014! We'd like to congratulate Vynecrest, Pinnacle Ridge and Franklin Hill on their recent honors. Thank you all for making our region and our wine trail proud!

12th Pennsylvania Wine Excellence Awards 
Pennsylvania Wine Society 

Top 10 Scoring Wines:

Vynecrest Lemberger 2012 - Top scoring wine/winner
Pinnacle Ridge Veritas 2010

Honorable Mention:

Franklin Hill 2012 Chambourcin

2014 PA Farm Show Wine Competition

Vynecrest 2012 Lemberger - Double Gold
Vynecrest 2012 Chambourcin - Gold
Vynecrest 2012 Dry Riesling - Bronze
Vynecrest 2013 Cherry DiVyne - Bronze
Vynecrest 2012 Riesling - Bronze
Vynecrest 2012 Vynecrest Red - Bronze
Vynecrest 2012 Pinot Grigio - Bronze
Vynecrest 2012 Traminette - Bronze

Pinnacle Ridge 2012 Vidal Blanc - Silver
Pinnacle Ridge 2012 Cayuga - Silver
Pinnacle Ridge 2012 Chambourcin Rose -Silver
Pinnacle Ridge 2012 Traminette - Silver
Pinnacle Ridge 2012 Merlot - Bronze
Pinnacle Ridge 2012 Cabernet Franc - Bronze
Pinnacle Ridge 2012 Chambourcin - Bronze

Franklin Hill 2012 Kiss - Silver
Franklin Hill 2012 Fainting Goat - Bronze
Franklin Hill 2012 Fiesta - Bronze

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Valentine's Day Weekend along the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail

It might still be January but it's not too early to start making plans for Valentine's Day for you and your sweetheart. And of course we suggest taking him or her on a wine trail expedition. 

Since the holiday falls on a Friday this year, several of our member wineries are offering their specials and promotions all weekend long. And don't forget that passports to the upcoming March Passport Program event make a great gift!

Amore will be serving white chocolate with Strawberry Seduction, and dark chocolate with Blackberry Bliss to customers all Valentine’s Weekend.

Big Creek
Big Creek has several great wine choices for your Valentine celebration. Their semi-dry white "Joi" is a blend of Muscat and Seyval and goes very well with lobster. For sweeter wines they have La Brusca, which is great with chocolate-covered cherries, and Moscato, a wonderfully aromatic match for rick, dark chocolates. 

Blue Mountain
With its raspberry undertones, Victoria’s Passion brings out the best in any chocolate dessert. For something drier, try the award-winning Merlot grown at their Leaser Vineyard. Taste these and other wines February 15 and 16 along with a delicious chocolate sampling by Mary Dworski of Sweet Finesse from 1 – 5 p.m. both days. Her gourmet chocolates will also be available for purchase. Adam Motto will be providing entertainment from 1 – 4 p.m. on February 15.

Clover Hill
Bring someone you love to Clover Hill Winery to celebrate Valentine’s Day. They will be featuring chocolates from Premise Maid Candies paired with Clover Hill wines on Friday, February 14 and Saturday, February 15 from noon - 5 p.m. Linger and enjoy wine by the glass in the Chambourcin room. This is a free tasting, however wines, chocolates and wine by the glass are available for purchase.

Franklin Hill
Bring your sweetheart to any Franklin Hill Vineyards location for Friday Happy Hour to start your Valentine’s Day. From 4 to 6 p.m. on February 14, each store will have a different drink special paired with its perfect culinary partner. They'll keep it going all weekend long at all locations with brownies, chocolates, and more. All stores will offer complimentary tastings and tours of the winery will be available at noon and 2 p.m.

Galen Glen
On Saturdays, February 8 and 15 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays, February 9 and 16 from noon to 5 p.m., Galen Glen Winery will host a complimentary pairing that will delight any chocolate lover. The winery will be offering their triple crown of chocolate, which includes something to enchant every facet of the palate. The treats being offered in this pairing are all locally and Pennsylvania-made. The largest gem in the crown is Galen Glen's own Chambourcin truffles. A recipe will be provided so that customers can make these indulgences at home. The pairing will include one of Galen Glen's dessert wines.

Pinnacle Ridge
Enjoy Valentine's Day with that special someone at Pinnacle Ridge. We will be featuring a "Wine Lovers" package - a bottle of bubbly, our Brut Rosé with a special pairing and two custom complimentary flutes. Reservations required - call for details: (610) 756-4481.


For Valentine's Day Weekend, Friday, February 14 - Sunday, February 16, Vynecrest will be featuring their 2013 PA Farm Show Bronze medal-winning Cherry DiVyne and Wilbur Buds gift set for $19.99. They will also be debuting their new adult sippy cups, a perfect gift for the man or woman on the go. Finally, they will have live Jazz in their Vyneskeller on Saturday from 1 – 4 p.m.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Vynecrest brings home awards from PA Farm Show Wine Competition

The results of the 2013 Pennsylvania Farm Show wine competition are in, and Vynecrest received a medal for all eight wines that were entered.

2012 Lemberger - Double Gold 

  • 2012 Chambourcin - Gold 

  • 2012 Dry Riesling - Bronze 

  • 2012 Riesling - Bronze 

  • 2012 Pinot Grigio - Bronze 

  • 2012 Vynecrest Red - Bronze 
2012 Traminette - Bronze 

  • 2012 Cherry DiVyne - Bronze

January Specials 

Wine of the Month - Spiced Winter Red, additional 10% off 

3 Pack of the Month - 3 Vynecrest White - $25
(at winery only; 3 pack can't be combined with other discounts)

Upcoming Events

January & February - Vynecrest Piano & Wine Bar - Open every Saturday & Sunday, 1- 5 pm

January 26 - Jazz Sunday: Live Jazz music in the Vyneskeller, 1 - 4 pm

February 1 - Super Bowl Chili Saturday: 
Once again, Vynecrest will be pairing chili and wine on the Saturday before the Super Bowl. A popular yearly event, this year we will feature Mr. Bill’s Chili from the Allentown Fairgrounds Farmers Market paired with our recent PA Farm Show award-winning wines.

Mr. Bill’s Turkey Chili (red sauce) is made starting with local grown, antibiotic free, skinless turkey meat from Koch’s Turkey farm, a local Tamaqua premium turkey grower. This recipe has gone through many improvements over the years and it is a great blend of tomatoes, beans, lean turkey and spices. It will be paired with our Gold Medal Chambourcin red wine.

New to Mr. Bill’s is their White Chicken Chili. A blend of Bell & Evans chicken breast meat and ground chicken are the base for this chili. Mr. Bill does not use a cream-based sauce, but instead they puree the white beans and add sautéed onions, garlic, celery and a unique spice blend as well as whole white beans. This slightly spicy chili lends well to a pairing with our Bronze Medal winning Traminette, a white Gewurztraminer hybrid with a flowery bouquet and seductive spicy finish.

Customers will have a chance to sample both of these delicious chili and wine pairings and the chili will be available for purchase by the bowl to eat in our Vyneskeller Wine Bar or for take out. 
A great start to your Super Bowl weekend.

February 23 - Jazz Sunday, Live Jazz music in the Vyneskeller, 1 - 4 pm

March - Lehigh Valley Wine Trail March Passport Program: 
There are still passports available for sale. The winery will be open for tastings but all food pairings are exclusively for passport holders. Tickets can be purchased online or at the winery.

Weeks 1 & 2 Pairing: Chicken, apple, bacon sliders with gouda cheese on slider rolls paired with Summertime red wine.
Weeks 3 & 4 Pairing: Chipotle pulled pork sliders with provolone cheese on slider rolls paired with Traminette white wine.

Hours of Operation 
Breinigsville - 7 Days a week, 11 am - 5 pm 

Kutztown - Tuesday - Sunday, noon - 6 pm

Glass Half Empty
by Sam Landis

Many days at Vynecrest are spent doing rote, repetitive, mindless tasks. Whether it is bottling, cleaning tanks, or pumping wine, these jobs require very little skill and provide very little reward. That's why our winemaker Malachi and I really enjoy the next few months. People may think wine making is simply the process of adding yeast to juice and fermenting it into wine. By definition yes this is true. But the real trick of the trade is the process of taking 30 different tanks of wine and combining them into 18-20 final blends. So how do you do this you ask? We drink a lot!

Behind each finished wine is on average 8 to 10 different versions that we put together on a small scale and blindly taste and make notes on. Sometimes we differ on opinions, sometimes we agree, but most of the time we pick and choose and tinker until we both feel like we finally have it. You would be amazed at the subtle nuances of what 5% of this or 10% of that makes in the overall make-up of a wine, but when you put them all blindly side by side it's a really fun and creative process - one that makes us realize why we do all of those other crappy jobs the rest of the year.

So next time you sit down with a bottle of our wine remember how hard we worked drinking sample after sample after sample after sample after sample after sample so you could enjoy it.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Pinnacle Ridge announces January events for Case Club members

We have some very exciting things planned for the 2014 season. We will be kicking off the 2014 event calendar this month with a special event just for our Case Club Members. Join us in the evenings the last Wednesdays (January 21 and 28) and Thursdays (January 22 and 29) of the month for complimentary food and wine pairings featuring some of the newest additions to our tasting line up.

Come out for some great food, some new and exciting wines and a chance to mingle with our staff and your fellow Case Club Members. The event will take place from 6 - 8:30 p.m. Be rewarded with special discounts, Case Club Member news, and updates about new wine releases. Reservations are required - please call 610-756-4481.

We are running low on the ever-popular 2010 Veritas, a classic Bordeaux-style blend that we only make in the best years and age in the finest oak. This vintage will be the last one available until at least 2015. The special evenings reserved in January for our Case Club Members would be a great time to stock up before it's gone.

We have already released some wines from this past year’s harvest: our 2013 Dry Riesling and our 2013 Oasis style rosé wine inspired by old world techniques with a slight pink and orange hue that displays fresh, floral aromas and crisp acidity balanced by notes of citrus fruits. We have also just released our new 2012 Chambourcin, a dry, but fruit forward red, aged in Pennsylvania oak, that possesses an intense note of crushed berries and hints of vanilla. Also, after a few months without our popular sparkling wines, the Brut Rosé returns to the line up.                    
"Everyday Oenophile - A Winemaker Uncorked"

In this inaugural edition of the "Everyday Oenophile - A Winemaker Uncorked",  we will be discussing some of the things that are going on currently at Pinnacle Ridge Winery, as well as the story of how the business began with winery owner/operator and winemaker Brad Knapp.

Brad is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana. He completed his undergraduate degree at Purdue University (the Cradle of Quarterbacks, for you football fans this playoff season) and received his PhD. in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin, during which he began developing an interest in the study of wine tasting. Brad possesses a strong and long history of wine tasting and appreciation with other wine enthusiasts. During his academic career, Brad began to experiment with amateur winemaking and brewing. After completing his education, he began looking for work here on the East Coast and spent much of his time on the road investigating the local wine scene.  
In 1988, Brad took a position with Air Products and quickly joined some of the local American Wine Society tasting groups in the Lehigh Valley. He is still involved in some of those regular tasting groups today. That same year, he made a Chambourcin blend that won "Best in Show" in a local amateur winemaking competition and, shortly thereafter, he began looking for land with the intent of starting a winery.

In 1990, he purchased the property where Pinnacle Ridge is currently located and began preparing the property for production and planting. He had also developed a relationship with friend and co-worker, the late Curtis Luckenbill, owner of Round Ridge Farms in Kempton, Pa. Curtis had also expressed interest in grape production and the two began planting on the Kempton property in 1991 with Vidal Blanc and Cayuga. Soon, they would add Chambourcin, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to the vineyard. Pinnacle Ridge was licensed in 1993 and opened to the public in 1995 with only three wines.              
Today, Pinnacle Ridge Winery produces around 4,500 cases annually and has an extremely diverse portfolio of wines. The list today includes both red and white, dry and sweet, as well as some signature sparkling wines. In recent years, Brad has adopted some new winemaking techniques derived from regions like Germany and Austria, like flotation and hyper oxidation, as methods of removing bitterness and pheonolics from the whites. As a result, the whites age better and remain clear with nice color and are more aromatic.

This past harvest season was one of the most unique in recent memory, as our normally hot, dry summers were instead filled with an abundance of rain. Conversely, the normally wet fall season, as a result of hurricanes moving up the coast, actually saved the harvest with very dry weather and lots of sunshine. We were "saved by the fall," as Brad puts it as this unique weather for the harvest season elevated what would have otherwise been an average vintage. This enabled us to let a lot of our fruit hang much longer. In fact, we hung the Riesling longer than ever this year and this vintage looks to potentially be some of the nicest fruit for whites that we have ever had. We were also able to let some of the Vidal Blanc hang until December 10 and picked that fruit for what will become our first Late Harvest wine since the 2010 vintage. As for the reds, they're "pretty frickin' nice too" according to Brad.                
Have any questions about winemaking or what's going on here in the cellar? Shoot us an e-mail at and Ask the Winemaker.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Vynecrest celebrates the Big Game with a chili and wine event February 1

Vynecrest Winery will pair chili and wine on Saturday, February 1, the day before the Super Bowl. 

A popular annual event, this year they will feature Mr. Bill’s Poultry Market's chili from the Allentown Fairgrounds Farmers Market paired with their recent PA Farm Show award-winning wines.

Mr. Bill’s turkey chili (red sauce) is made with locally grown, antibiotic-free, skinless turkey from Koch’s Turkey farm, a Tamaqua premium turkey grower. The recipe has gone through many improvements over the years and is a great blend of tomatoes, beans, lean turkey and spices. It will be paired with the winery's gold medal Chambourcin red wine.

New to Mr. Bill’s is their white chicken chili. A blend of Bell & Evans chicken breast meat and ground chicken are the base for this chili. Mr. Bill's does not use a cream-based sauce, but instead purees the white beans and adds sautéed onions, garlic, celery and a unique spice blend as well as whole white beans. This slightly spicy chili lends nicely to a pairing with their bronze medal-winning Traminette, a white Gewurztraminer hybrid with a flowery bouquet and seductive, spicy finish.

Customers will have a chance to sample both of these chilis and wine pairings. The chilis will also be available for purchase by the bowl to eat in the Vyneskeller Wine Bar or for take out.

For more information visit or call 610-398-7525.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Wine Dinner, Happy Hour and more at Franklin Hill this winter

We hope you enjoyed your holidays and wish you the very best 2014 has to offer. We are grateful for your patronage throughout the past years and look forward to your continued support in the years to come.  e always strive to be our best and can honestly say "we love what we do."

Elaine, Adam and the Franklin Hill Vineyards Family

Wine and Dine at the Broadway Pub
62 Broadway, Bangor, PA 18013
January 22 at 7 p.m.

Franklin Hill Vineyards and the Broadway Pub are pairing up to offer you a spectacular dining experience. Each of the four courses have been created to complement one of our wines. From lobster to creme brûlée, it's a feast you won't want to miss. $50 per person. Call to reserve your table - 610-332-9463.

Introducing Happy Hour! (It's not just for bars anymore.)

Franklin Hill Vineyards is excited to announce Friday Night Happy Hour at all of our retail locations. From 4-6 p.m. we'll be handing out samples of creative cocktails made with our wines and a light snack to pair it with. Every week we'll feature a different combination of deliciousness so stop by and join the fun.

Restaurant Week in Downtown Bethlehem

Downtown Bethlehem presents the most delicious weeks of the year in Bethlehem's Historic District and South Side Shopping District. January 26 through February 1 over 30 restaurants will be offering fixed-price menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Reservations are strongly recommended and can made by contacting the restaurant directly.

Don't forget to swing by our Bethlehem's location on Main Street for a bottle to enjoy at any of the BYOB restaurants. Or dine at the Apollo Grill and ask for a glass of Trio.

March Passports now on sale

The Lehigh Valley Wine Trail 2014 March Passport Program is right around the corner. All eight of the wine trail wineries open their doors the first four weekends in March and invite you in for pairings, tastings and more. If you haven't purchased your passports yet stop in any of our locations today or buy online. $35 each. (cash only)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

New year = new wine releases at Blue Mountain Vineyards

Joe and I want to thank you for your patronage in 2013 and we look forward to another wonderful year of offering fun-filled events and great wine to you, our customers.

The vines are dormant now at Blue Mountain Vineyards and we have begun pruning. Also, we have bottled our White Merlot, Bri's Blush, Vignoles, and Sauvignon Blanc. The 2013 vintages are great!

The re-opening of our Montgomery Mall store was very well received and we have decided to extend our lease for 2014. If you haven't visited yet, stop by and meet our staff - Virgil, Matt, Annie and Catherine.


Mountain Spice is back.
Late Harvest Vidal Blanc will be released sometime this month.
Check our Facebook fan page for updates.


Pennsylvania Farm Show
January 8-9

Winetober Fest
January 18

PA Garden Expo
February 21-23

2014 Wine Trail March Passports are on sale now at the winery or online at $35 each.

Sunday Blues Wine Tastings:

Enjoy live entertainment on our glass enclosed deck with commanding views of the mountains and our vineyards. Gourmet cheeses and fresh baked bread available for purchase or bring your own snacks. Admission $5 per person. Please call or email for reservations.

  • January 12 - Sunsets North
  • January 19 - Billy Patrick
  • January 26 - Jake Kalegis & Mike Rauscher

Friday, January 3, 2014

2014 Wine Trail events and tips for exploring the trail

The wineries of the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail would like to wish everyone a happy 2014. We're excited for the year ahead and for our six annual events. We hope you will mark your calendar and plan to join us for one or more of them.

All but one of the events (Wine on the Mountain) are held at our member wineries. For a list of member wineries, as well as addresses and driving directions, please visit our web site. Remember that you must be at least 21 years of age to participate in our events, and designated drivers are always highly recommended and encouraged.

Each winery sets its own policy on wine tastings including fees and number of tastes per visit, as well as group visits and commercial vehicles such as limos, buses and vans. Be sure to call ahead or go to each winery's respective web site before planning your visit. All events take place Saturday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Sunday noon - 5 p.m.

March Passport Program
March 1 & 2, 8 & 9, 15 & 16, and 22 & 23

Passports are now on sale for $35 each online via EventBrite (credit card payment only) or at our eight member wineries (cash or check payment only).

Wine in Bloom
May 17 & 18

Wine on the Mountain at Penn’s Peak in Jim Thorpe, Pa.
July 26 & 27

Harvest Weekend - The Butcher, The Baker and The Winemaker
September 13 & 14

Chambourcin Weekend
October 18 & 19

Nouveau Weekend
November 15 & 16

We'd also like to take this opportunity to share with you our list of tips for exploring the wine trail and visiting our wineries:

  • Start at any winery, visit all eight.
  • Consider beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday right when our wineries open.
  • In general, Sundays are less busy than Saturdays.
  • No alcohol of any kind may be brought onto winery premises.
  • Visibly intoxicated guests will not be served, in accordance with the law.
  • If you will be traveling all day long, pack a snack or stop by a local restaurant.
  • We strongly discourage trying to visit all 8 wineries in one day. Anyone, regardless of whether they are the driver or not, can be denied a wine tasting if it appears they are impaired. Remember: little tastes add up!
  • We treat our wineries as if they are our homes, which in many cases they are. As our guests we appreciate your patience, consideration and respect.
  • Each winery sets its own policy regarding wine tasting fees and limits, as well as commercial vehicles (vans, buses, limos) and groups. Please contact the winery or wineries you plan to visit, or visit their web sites, to find out what their house rules are before heading out.