The Philadelphia Inquirer comes to Pinnacle Ridge!
On a recent snow-covered day, we were very fortunate and pleased to welcome a group of experienced tasters, including Mr. Craig LaBan. LaBan is an esteemed food and wine critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and this trip was his first to the Lehigh Valley in the pursuit of tasting local wine. The trip was inspired by Mr. Clark Smith, a highly regarded winemaker, consultant and professor, whose claim that "They [wineries in the Lehigh Valley] make some of the best aromatic white wines in America" pushed LaBan to investigate further. Mr. Mark Chien, the Penn State Extension viticulture educator, joined the pair.
We had a wonderful time pouring for these gentleman while discussing all aspects of wine: regions, terroir, grape varieties, blends... you name it! In an article that Mr. LaBan wrote about his experience, he had very kind things to say about our wines. He described the new 2013 Dry Riesling as a "whip-crack dry Riesling" and remarked that the new 2013 Oasis was a "terrifically quenching French-style rosé.” Read the article here.
Everyday Oenophile: A Winemaker Uncorked
In this edition we are stepping out of the cellar and back into our past. Specifically, we will be discussing a little bit of the history of the land that makes our estate vineyard a Berks County Historic Site. The property located in Greenwich Township on old Rt. 22 is steeped in local history. We can trace back the ownership of the land to the Hensley family, who owned the property in 1758. The property, which was then called "Salvador,” would later shift hands to the Laib family in 1788 for the price of 43 pounds and 19 shillings (less than $73 today).
Over time, the property was portioned off and sold or donated as designated school and church lands, particularly for the Lutheran Congregation of Greenwich. Eventually, the property became Abraham Leichty's, and he sold it to the Rabenhold (or Rabenold - some members of the family dropped the 'h' from the spelling) family. At this point, the property was in substantial disrepair and required many improvements. In addition to improving many of the surrounding structures on the property, in 1851 the Rabenhold family built the barn where the winery stands today. The property remained in the Rabenhold family until World War I.
In 1914, Morris Schucker purchased the property from Louisa Rabenhold for $11,000. The property remained in the Schucker family until the fall of 1990, when Brad Knapp purchased it with the intent of starting a winery. The property had ample land (roughly six acres at this point) that could be used for an estate vineyard, as well as buildings that could be repurposed for winemaking and storage. Brad converted what was previously a potato cellar into a room dedicated to making sparkling wines, and he gradually expanded the tasting room by adding a second and third bar, as well as a cold room in the cellar.
Pinnacle Ridge Winery opened to the public in 1995 and has been welcoming wine drinkers ever since. The estate vineyard is three acres under vine and features Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Chambourcin and Cabernet Franc. The Kempton vineyard site is up to roughly 19 acres, with an additional three acres of vineyard located on property belonging to Dean Scott.