Friday, June 27, 2014

Blue Mountain Vineyards talks sulfites in wine, farmers' markets and private parties

You hear about sulfites all the time when it comes to wine. So what does it really mean?

Sulfites are a naturally occurring compound that nature uses to prevent microbial growth. They are found on grapes, onions, garlic, and on many other growing plants.

Winemakers have been adding additional sulfites to wines for millennia. The Greeks and Romans used sulfur candles to sterilize their wine barrels. Sulfur protects damage to the wine caused by oxygen, and again helps prevent organisms from growing in the wine. This allows the wine to last longer too, which lets it age and develop all of those complex flavors we all love and enjoy so much. If you didn't add sulfites, the wine would turn into vinegar in a matter of months or sooner.

We pride ourselves in making wine that is low in sulfites. By not mass producing our wines they are able to be consumed without concern for most people who tend to be sensitive to sulfites. Small amounts of sulfites occur during the fermentation process so even wines labeled no added sulfites or organic contain sulfites.

Are you looking for that perfect place to celebrate a special occasion? The beautiful grounds and relaxed atmosphere of Blue Mountain Vineyards provide a unique venue for intimate parties, private tastings, corporate team building and other special celebrations. Events are held in our glass-enclosed deck and, weather permitting, our outdoor deck.

Maximum capacity is 100. Please visit us or call for details, availability and pricing.

We participate in numerous farmer's markets throughout the week. Let us come to you when you can't get to us. Visit to see if we're at a farmer's market near you!
Enjoy live entertainment on our outdoor or glass-enclosed deck with commanding views of the mountains and our vineyards. Gourmet cheeses and fresh baked bread are available for purchase, or bring your own snacks along. Admission $5 per person.

Please call for a reservation or go to to purchase tickets and view our entertainment schedule. When you purchase your tickets online we will reserve a table for you and when you arrive we can offer you express seating.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Blind taste testing of Lehigh Valley wines by our winery owners proves to be an enlightening experience

Earlier this month the winery owners of our Wine Trail's nine wineries participated in a blind taste test of their own wines as lead by Penn State Extension Enologist Denise Gardner. Read her blog post about the experience here.

Below is her feedback to our winery owners about the blind taste testings and her observations.

"On Monday, June 2nd, winery members of the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail tasted 21 of their wines blind.  This doesn’t quite mean that each person was blindfolded, but that all of the wines and their subsequent labels were hidden from each participant during the tasting.  What’s the purpose of conducting this kind of tasting?

Tasting wines blind, or by numeric codes instead of having awareness of the brand or label, forces the wine drinker to perceive the wine differently. “I wasn’t sure which ones were my wines,” one winemaker exclaimed at the end of the tasting. That could be a bit nerve racking for any winemaker, but it is an essential practice that many in the wine industry undergo regularly to improve their palate, and hence, improve the quality of wines that they produce.

I have to applaud this group of winemakers for taking these steps. It forces the whole group to minimize their bias and focus on each wine holistically. Is it flawed? Should it be sold as a representative of Pennsylvania wine? Do I even like this wine? All questions that I’m sure everyone was thinking during the tasting, including me.

After tasting through all 21 wines with the group, it was definitely an eye-opening experience trying to guess whose wine was whose! Like most of Pennsylvania, an array of wine varieties and styles were presented during the tasting. In the whites, we tasted everything from Vidal Blanc to Chardonnay, oaked and unoaked, some from fairly young vintages and some wines with age.  In the reds, several red hybrid varieties were tasted, with a heavy emphasis on Chambourcin: one of the leading red wine varieties produced in the Lehigh Valley.

With the vast number of different white varieties made in several styles, some of them were a bit difficult to identify blind. However, as a whole, the Chambourcin wines were quite identifiable by their varietal character, or those attributes that are specific to Chambourcin. Such attributes include a deep red color, crisp acidity – quite “zippy,” with light red fruit and herbal flavors, almost reminiscent of oregano and sage from a spice cabinet. Chambourcin is a French-hybrid variety, which grows consistently well in the numerous climatic conditions associated with Pennsylvania. It’s a flexible wine grape, in which the winemaker has a lot of room to create various wine styles using Chambourcin as the base variety.

If you have your doubts on trying dry, red wines from the Lehigh Valley, I would encourage wine drinkers to give them another try. While most wines produced in warm, dry climates like California produce jammy and low-acid wines, these can be challenging to pair with food. However, the brightness in most red wines produced from the Lehigh Valley and other PA wineries is especially food friendly. For example, I enjoy using Chambourcin for meals that include pizza, spaghetti, and ratatouille. Of the few Bordeaux varietals (varieties like Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon or their associated blends) that were tasted earlier in June, you can pair these with heavier red meats like steak or even hamburgers made on the grill.  Many also go well with hard cheeses or a creamy, white pasta sauce.

And don’t neglect one of the greatest gems associated with Pennsylvania producers: white wines. These wines come in so many styles from dry to sweet, unoaked to oaky, light aromatics to overly aromatic – and there are so many wonderful ways to enjoy them. Vidal Blanc is a friendly white wine to enjoy while picnicking on a warm, summer day, and the Lehigh Valley has many different styles to choose from.  Gewurztraminer and Riesling, a few aromatically intense varieties we tasted, may seem powerful up front, but this wine pairs beautifully with spicy foods like Thai, Indian, and seafood-based cuisine.

While the objective of our tasting was not to identify food pairings with Lehigh Valley wines, consumers should be aware of the great care each winery is taking to continuously enhance wine quality. These tastings are a small part of quality control practices for wines made in Pennsylvania, and I hope that this wine trail will continue this practice in the years to come."

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Sunshine and Riesling event this weekend at Galen Glen

I scream, you scream, we all scream for Riesling ice cream!

On Saturday, June 21 and Sunday, June 22 Galen Glen Winery will team with O Wow Cow Creamery of Ottsville, Pennsylvania to kick off the summer season with everyone's favorite frozen treat.  The "Sunshine & Riesling" event will feature an ice cream or sorbet made from Galen Glen's Riesling wine.

Galen Glen will be offering a complimentary pairing of the ice cream and Riesling wine on Saturday,  from 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday from noon to 5 pm.  Riesling is the perfect wine for summer meals as it is a refreshing wine with flavors of apples, pears, honey melons and a lick of wet slate. In addition, it pairs well with crab cakes, barbeque chicken, ribs, and salads.

Galen Glen is known for their award-winning Germanic-style white wines. Most recently, the Rieslings were awarded a gold medal in the Riverside International Wine Competition and a silver medal in the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition.

O Wow Cow is also no stranger to winning awards for their organic, locally-sourced ice creams and sorbets.  They were recently named one of the Top Ten Ice Cream Shops in America by The Huffington Post. Owner, John Fezzuoglio, is known for his unique creations that are sure to excite every palate. While this is not the first dessert made from wine, it is the first time O Wow Cow is creating an ice cream from wine sourced through a Lehigh Valley Wine Trail winery.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Clover Hill plans wine and food inspiration, and vineyard and winery tours for June

First we had bud burst, now flowering in the vineyard and just like that Clover Hill is in full swing of our 38th year of growing grapes. The sun-soaked days make the endless work feel worthwhile. The worry of too much rain or not enough rain make the nights sleepless, but the joy of growing grapes and farming the land is a labor of love for Clover Hill Winery. This is the perfect time of year to visit the winery in Breinigsville and plan a little extra time to enjoy a glass of wine on the patio and toast our 38th growing season.

We would like to thank you for voting us Best of the Valley for 2014. We look forward to your next Clover Hill visit and thank you for enjoying and sharing our wines.

Please note: If you are traveling to the winery in Breinigsville, Schantz Road will be partially closed until July 2015. Please click here to find our available detours.

Owners Selection for June - Vignoles
$10.34 per bottle - Receive an additional 10% discount when included in a case purchase.

Intense and delicate flavors of honey, rose and orange blossom will mingle in your wine glass. The sweet, dessert wine is balanced with rich flavors and striking acidity. Try pairing this wine with a cheese plate after dinner or a rich cheesecake. Find recipes here.

Wine & Food Inspiration at the Allentown Fairgrounds Farmer's Market
Saturday, June 14 from 11 am - 4 pm

Visit the wine shop at the Allentown Fairgrounds Farmers Market for a special wine and food pairing featuring baby back ribs from Billy's Seafood and Rib Shack paired with 2008 Merlot. It is a perfect way to treat Dad for Father's Day.

1st Day of Summer at The Winery in Breinigsville
June 21 & 22

Celebrate the arrival of summer with a glass of Clover Hill wine. Visit the winery in Breinigsville or the vineyard in Robesonia on June 21 or 22 for $4 wine by the glass specials all day. Sip a glass of wine on our patio and welcome summer!

2014 Vineyard & Winery Tour Series at The Winery in Breinigsville
June 21 at 1 and 2 pm

Join Clover Hill Winery for an inside look at our vineyards and production facility. Let us show you our winemaking process from the grape to the glass. The tour is approximately 1 ½ hours long and includes wine tasting along the way. Reservations are required and space is limited. Under 21 is free and we are handicap accessible. For reservations please call 610-395-2468. Tour tickets are $12 per person, under 21 is free.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Vynecrest converting bottling line to screw caps this summer

Bread is now available on the weekends in the Vyneskeller from The Daily Loaf, a fellow vendor from the Macungie Farmers Market. Demi-baguette loaves with dipping oil and spices for $3 in the Vyneskeller and regular-sized baguettes for sale upstairs in the tasting room for $4 to take home. Made with 100% organic flour and delivered fresh every Saturday morning to us. More varieties will be available as the summer goes on.

The Vyneskeller is open seven days a week from 1 - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday it is be self service - you can buy everything you need upstairs in the tasting room (wine, cheese, crackers) and take it with you downstairs to the patio or out to the picnic tables. Saturday and Sunday is business as usual with our full staff.

June Specials:
Wine of the Month - Blueberry, additional 10% off 

3 Pack of the Month - 3 DiVyne Red for $25.
*available at winery only; 3 pack cannot be combined with other offers

Upcoming Events and Farmers Markets

Happy Hour at Vynecrest on Main - every Friday from 4 - 6 pm. 10% off wine purchases and a free appetizer per couple.

June 12 and 19 - Macungie Farmer's Market, 4-7pm

June 21 & 22 - Split Rock Wine Festival
The Great Tastes of Pennsylvania Wine & Food Festival is held annually on resort grounds during the beautifully inviting summertime. This two-day, outdoor festival features musical entertainment, many of Pennsylvania's finest wineries, and a wide selection of food and craft vendors. Educational seminars are held during festival hours. Come experience everything you loved about wine fest past and all the great new things happening this year. Noon to 6 pm both days.

June 25 - Wine and Wholesome Food Cafe Event
Join us Wednesday evening in Kutztown for a wine and pairing from Wholesome Food Cafe from 5- 7 pm. $10 per person

June 26 - Macungie Farmer's Market, 4-7 pm

June 29 - Vineyard & Winery Tour
Jazz Sunday - Vineyard & Winery tour begins at noon. $5 per person. Tour should wrap up just in time to enjoy some live Jazz music in the Vyneskeller from 1 - 4 pm.

Glass Half Empty
by Malachi Duffy

I was just rereading the Glass Half Empty column I wrote for last June and it was about some of the projects we had recently completed or were underway. It ended with the last big project to be completed for the year, a new bottling line that would hopefully be twice as fast and use screw caps.

Well, 12 months later the new bottling line is in. We now have four wines under screw cap and have an aggressive bottling schedule in place to try to get the 2013 wines in the bottle before the 2012 vintage sells out.

We have had a lot of questions about why we chose to switch from a synthetic cork to screw caps. The answer is pretty simple. It is THE BEST closure for us and the style of wine we make. Every closure has its weakness. Natural cork can be tainted with TCA, so a certain percentage of your wine may be bad and there isn't anything you can do about it. To combat this inconsistency, we switched to a synthetic cork many years ago. Synthetic cork has been great for us but is does have a downside. It lets a little bit of oxygen into the bottle and over time the wine will oxidize. With synthetic corks we are able to guarantee our white wines for two-to-three years and our reds for five years (because red wines are better at protecting themselves against oxygen).

We wanted to have a longer shelf life for both our red and white wines. Screw caps solve all the above problems and offer an easier way to open the bottle of wine. While screw caps do let in some oxygen, it is MUCH less than that of a natural or synthetic cork. This will allow us to guarantee our whites for up to five years and reds up to 10 years (probably much longer).

Screw caps may diminish the drama and romance opening a bottle but it is well worth the sacrifice to ensure a taint-free wine that offers consistent aging, maintained flavor and freshness with optimum quality control. Quality is Vynecrest's number one concern when producing a wine and the switch to screw caps is another example of of that pursuit.

Friday, June 6, 2014

And the winning event name in our recent contest is...

We are excited to announce the winners of our contest to rename the March Passport Program:

2nd Prize Winner is Roy Hicks of Kutztown, Pa. who suggested "The Wines of March Tour."
1st Prize Winner is Darin Kitashima of New Tripoli, Pa. who suggested "Vines of the Valley."

And the Grand Prize Winner, and the official NEW event name is... "Vino in the Valley" suggested by Corey Marie Phillipeck of Summit Hill, Pa. 

Winners will be contacted by email later today! Congratulations to all of them and thank you to everyone who entered!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Yoga in the Vineyard, wine festivals, and more for Franklin Hill Vineyards in June

Road Trip!
We hope you can take time this summer to come visit the vineyard. We've just finished planting over 1,200 new vines and our older vines have begun to bud. Things are always happening here at FHV and we want you to come be a part of it. Our deck overlooks one of the most beautiful views in the area and is the perfect place to enjoy a glass of your favorite Franklin Hill wine.

Taste of Kutztown
Saturday, June 7 - 11 am - 5 pm

This is our first time at this event and we couldn't be more excited. The Kutztown Rotary has invited over 21 wineries, meaderies, and breweries to bring samples for tasting all day long. Join us for a day of wine themed food and fun while Acoustic Roadshow provides live music all day.

Yoga in the Vineyard
Sunday, June 8 at 10 am
Our summer series continues with an hour of confidence building, core strengthening yoga led by Silver Kim of Kula Heart Yoga. Afterward we invite you to the deck for a light brunch and mimosas. This popular event does sell out so please contact the winery to reserve your patch of grass. BYOM (bring your own mat) $20 per person - Call today: 610-588-8708.
Can't make it? We're doing it again on July 20 and August 17.

Split Rock Wine Festival
June 21 & 22

Our Festival Crew is packing up and getting ready for the biggest, craziest wine festival of our season. This is a do not miss event held at the beautiful Split Rock Resort in the Poconos. Come join in on the fun, food, music, crafts and of course wine all weekend long from noon - 6 pm. While you're at our tent be sure to use our props at the #HashtagHangout and post some pics to our Facebook page for your chance to win free wine.

FHV Happy Hour Fridays
Haven't made it to one yet?  Stop by for yummy and creative cocktails all made using our wines.  Chocolate Caramel Martinis were featured this past week in Bethlehem and they were a huge hit. Want to re-create one of our drinks? Click here for all of our Happy Hour recipes.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Membership in the Pinnacle Ridge Case Club has its privileges in June

Sizzling Summer Deals for Case Club Members at Pinnacle Ridge
This summer we will be featuring some new perks for our Case Club Members. For the entire month of June, any purchase of our award-winning 2013 Dry Vidal Blanc and 2012 Riesling will be an additional 10% off. That is an extra 10% off when they are part of a case purchase.
We will also be doing something special for our Case Club Members prior to each music event. We have two music events each month on Saturdays from 2 - 5 pm. At 1 pm on each of these days, we will be opening the barn doors a little early to host a Case Club Members reception before we start the show. Make sure to come out early and toast to the performance with a glass of bubbly.
Finally, we will also be offerning referral bonuses for existing Case Club Members who bring their friends out to join the Club. First, the new member will receive extra points on their first Case Club purchase. Secondly, our existing Case Club members will receive a full case worth of points on their membership card. So come out and bring your friends to take part in some of our monthly members-only events.

Greetings from all of us at Pinnacle Ridge Winery. Thank you all for your continued support and patronage over the years. We could not do what it is we love to do if it were not for you! We are preparing to kick off the start to another wonderful summer season filled with music, fun, food and, of course, award-winning wines. Here are some of the things that are coming up soon on our calendar:

Mr. Z and the Nighshift will continue our Summer Open House Concert Series on Saturday, June 7. Come out and enjoy the atmosphere, wine, music, food and friends. Mr. Z and the Nighshift will be playing in the barn from 2 - 5 pm. The Tasting Room will also be open regular Saturday hours (10 am - 6 pm) for tastings and purchases. Check out the band's page on Facebook here:

Next up on the calendar - Brosky & Meyer make their first appearance of the concert season. They will be performing in the barn on Saturday, June 21 from 2 - 5 pm. Tasting room will be open 10 am - 6 pm. View Steve Brosky and Jimmie Meyer's site at:    

Pinnacle Ridge Winery will also be pouring some events in the area like The Taste of Kutztown on Saturday, June 7 and The Kutztown Folk Festival that will take place from Wednesday, June 28 to Sunday, July 6. Pinnacle Ridge will be at the Festival with some of our wine selections available for tasting and purchase.