Thursday, March 31, 2016

Get to know... Helen Donches of Amore Vineyards

1. Which winery do you work for and how long have you been there?

I have been employed by Amore Vineyards and Winery in Nazareth for more than six years. The vineyards are located on more than five acres. A beautiful tasting room offering a little bit of Italy in the Lehigh Valley is featured in a charming 200-year-old barn.                                          
2. What is your favorite wine that your winery makes, and why? What do you like to pair it with?

I have several favorites:

  • Vidal – dry, crisp with a smooth finish, pair with cheese 
  • Riesling – refreshing with lasting finish, pair with chicken or fish
  • Red Rapture – simply delicious – versatile – enjoy by itself, with cheese, pasta, red meat
  • Blackberry Bliss – flavorful fruit wine great with dark chocolate
  • Rapport – enjoy after dinner also with dark chocolate

3. What is the most popular questions you get asked by visitors about Lehigh Valley wine or    wineries, and how do you answer it?

  • Do you grow all your own grapes? - Yes, we grow all our grapes in our mineral-rich soil located in a narrow limestone belt of the Lehigh Valley. Our soil's rich array of minerals adds a unique complexity to our wine.
  • How many wineries participate in Lehigh Valley Wine Trail? - We have nine participating wineries and we offer customers copies of the wine trail brochure to take along home with them.
  • Why do Chambourcin wines taste different in other wineries? - It's due to the soil and how the wine is processed.
  • Do we refer to other wineries and do all wineries participate in special events? - Yes, we offer directions to other wineries since each winery offers their own specialty wines, and again we offer them the wine trail brochure which describes the annual special events.     

4. What do you like most about local Lehigh Valley wine and wineries?

Wineries offer convenience, variety, and the ability to taste prior to purchase which you don't get in a state liquor store.

5. What is the one piece of advice you offer to wine lovers traveling along the Wine Trail?

I encourage them to visit all participating wineries, drink responsibly, and take their time while enjoying their tastings. For a great wine tasting experience, try to attend special events where food pairings are available and some wineries offer entertainment as well.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Pinnacle Ridge debuts its first Gruner Veltliner wine


Subtle notes of white and green peppercorn are balanced by ripe citrus on the nose, inviting new aromas with each intake of breath. A rich texture, coupled with a lingering finish, make this wine a perfect pairing for light appetizers and white meats.


On Sunday, April 3 starting at 3 p.m. we are hosting a special barrel tasting just for you. Cardholders and up to three guests are invited to our Wine Loft to taste early barrel samples of some of our upcoming vintages! Winemaker Brad Knapp will lead a casual, informative session detailing the characteristics of what we will be bottling in the next few months. Come out and get a taste of what's to come. Reservations are required - 610-756-4481 or


This summer we'll be having more music than ever. Check our website for a listing of bands and dates. We're looking forward to rocking this barn to its foundations.


- Mushroom Marsala Sauce
- Raspberry Chipotle Salsa
- Hot Cherry Merlot Dip
- Chop House Steak Sauce
- Green Chile Pepper Dip

From tart to savory to smoky, these new dips and sauces provide some handy inspiration for meal preparation, party snack foods, and just plain good dippin' fun. Stop in our tasting room and peruse our wide selection of organic, delicious treats.

And we don't just have wine in our tasting room; we also have such goodies as avocado oil and local honey from beekeeper Jan Cauffman in Kempton, Pa. Jan has been keeping bees since 1995, and uses only approved organic treatments and integrated pest management practices. The honey is a wildflower mix - a combination of nectars from flowers blooming in this area in May and June. Stop in and pick up a jar of the finest local flavor.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Easter food & wine pairings from the wineries of the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail

The owners of the nine family-owned and operated wineries of the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail understand how important the Easter meal is for gathering with family and friends, and offers the following food and wine pairing suggestions for this year’s dinner.

Amoré Vineyards and Winery, Nazareth - Pair Amore Pink Passion with ham, pork and sauerkraut or Rose Amore with baked ham. After dinner, relax with a glass of Rapport or Vidal Blanc dessert wines.

Big Creek Vineyard and Winery, Kresgeville - Their Vin di Pasqualina is a great all-around wine for traditional Easter dinners. Both sweet and dry wine fans will enjoy the glass-filling aroma of this semi-dry rose. It is a blend of three grapes, but the bouquet and character come from Niagara, an aromatic white grape that can stand a little chill and still deliver lots of flavor. It works as an aperitif, or with ham, turkey, or baked ziti.

Blue Mountain Vineyards, New Tripoli – Winery owners Joe and Vickie Greff recommend their 2014 Pinot Noir to compliment a glazed Easter ham. For lamb, they recommend the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. If you’re serving a chocolate dessert, go with Victoria’s Passion or Harvest Moon, a late harvest Seyval Blanc dessert wine, with apple pie, custards, and carrot cake.

Clover Hill Vineyards and Winery, Breinigsville - Riesling is a great option for Easter ham; the winery produces a dry Generations Riesling and a semi-sweet Riesling. Try making a Holiday Ham Glaze with 1 cup of Clover Hill Holiday wine mixed with 1 cup of brown sugar. Blend ingredients, coat ham, and baste frequently.

Franklin Hill Vineyards, Bangor - Pair their Gold Medal award winning Hard Cider with the Easter meal. For a more traditional pairing go with Seyval Blanc, which just won at the East Meets West Wine Competition, which will compliment your ham or turkey beautifully. For dessert pair the winery’s sour yet sweet green apple wine named Envy with a slice of key lime pie, or pour a little Envy over vanilla ice cream in a blender and make adult Shamrock Shakes.

Galen Glen Vineyard and Winery, Andreas – Winemaker Sarah Troxell recommends setting the family table with one of their Rieslings alongside a glazed Easter ham or a roasted turkey. For dessert, enjoy a glass of Twilight, which is naturally sweet and perfectly paired with cheesecake.

Pinnacle Ridge, Kutztown - Their Vidal Blanc is the perfect companion for traditional Easter fare. To make more of a splash, their Brut Rose sparkling wine would be a festive choice.

Tolino Vineyards, Bangor - Celebrate with the family by sharing a bottle of Pinot Grigio. This dry white wine has citrus notes that complement the ham and gives the meal a refreshing taste. For red wine lovers, try their bold and smoky 2013 Cabernet Franc to bring out the seasoning of the meat. Sunnyside, a sweet concord, is a special treat that pairs well with semi-sweet Easter Chocolate for dessert.

Vynecrest Winery, Breinigsville – Whether you go the traditional ham with pineapple route or do ribs and chicken on the grill, Autumn Gold is a sweeter wine that pairs well with either choice. It's made from Vynecrest's signature blend of estate-grown grapes, and is also the March Wine of the Month with 10 percent off the regular price of $9.99.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Get to know... Kat Collins of Blue Mountain Vineyards

1. Which winery do you work for and how long have you worked there?

Blue Mountain Vineyards. I’m the full-time Office Manager/Tasting Room Manager at the main winery in New Tripoli. I like to tell people that I’ve been employed here 3 years, but I’ve been drinking here for years. I was a long-time customer of BMV before working here, and I still am!

2. What is your favorite wine that your winery makes, and what do you like to pair it with?

I’m in love with our dry Riesling. I love to pair it with fresh sushi, Asian food, and Mexican food at local BYO restaurants.

3. What is the most popular question you get asked by visitors about Lehigh Valley wine or wineries, and how do you answer it?

”What is your favorite wine?” is a common question, followed by “Do you ship your wine?” We get many out-of-town visitors and often they have traveled via airplane which doesn’t allow them or makes it difficult to transport wine home.

We can ship wine to almost all of the United States (depending on each State’s laws) with fairly inexpensive shipping fees. They’re thrilled to discover that they can order our wine directly from our website, or contact us directly at the winery to place an order, and have it shipped to their home. Currently, we do not ship overseas unless under special circumstances.

4. What do you like most about local, Lehigh Valley wine and wineries?

I love the diversity of the wineries. While we may use some similar grapes, such as Chambourcin, all of our wines are different. You can try a Chambourcin at each winery you visit and every single one will taste different based on the micro-climate, soil, winemaking practices, and more. It’s quite fascinating! Additionally, each winery has its own distinctive wines, personalities, and events so there’s something for everyone.

5. What is the one piece of advice you offer to wine lovers traveling along the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail?

Take the time to get to know the people at the wineries and learn about the wineries. Most wineries in the Lehigh Valley are family-owned and operated and have quite a history to share about the winery. Some, like Blue Mountain Vineyards, have been producing wine for over 30 years in Pennsylvania and have been instrumental in starting the Lehigh Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) and the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail.

Others have made significant achievements in certain types of wines and more. It gives you a deeper appreciation for the high-quality wine produced in Pennsylvania which can compete with some of the best wines in the world.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Vynecrest welcomes food trucks on weekends in March

The Lehigh Valley Wine Trail Vino in the Valley passport program event is underway. No worries if you don't have a passport; we are still open to the public for sales and complimentary tastings. If you do have a passport, come on in, head right downstairs to have your passport stamped and get your food pairing.

To escape the weekend crowds, don't forget we are open every day until 5 pm and open until 5:30 on Fridays. Fresh bread is available Friday through Sunday. Stop in Friday after work to pick up fresh bread, local cheese and local wine.

As a special treat in March, when tasting our Cherry DiVyne wine at the winery, you will be treated to a complimentary chocolate covered pretzel from Billy's Candies. Since so many people will be traveling the Wine Trail in March, we will have small bags of these delicious pretzels available for $5 to take along with you. We will also have boxes of Billy's Easter candy available for sale during March. They are a wonderful small candy company in Temple, Pa. that we are proud to have available here at the winery.

March Specials 
* Wine of the Month - Autumn Gold - 10% off
* 3-Pack of the Month - 3 Niagara for $25

(available at winery only, 3-pack cannot be combined with other offers.)

Upcoming Events

March 19 - Live music in the Vyneskeller - Steve Myers on the baby grand, 1 - 4 pm. Free admission.

March 19 and 20 - Stuffed to the Grills Food Truck - 10 am - 5 pm Saturday, 11 am - 5 pm Sunday

March 26 - Bob-B-Q Food Truck - 10 am - 5 pm

March 27 - Easter Sunday - CLOSED

April 2 and 3 - Bear Creek Spring Wine Festival - noon  - 6 pm both days

April 9 - Live Music in the Vyneskeller - Steve Myers on the baby grand, 1 - 4 pm. Free admission

April 17 - Brunch and a Ball Game - Stuffed to the Grills Food Truck will be dishing out some great food from 11 am - 5 pm and the Phillies will be taking on the Nationals at 1:35 pm.

Glass Half Empty by John Landis

When March arrives I think about St Patrick’s day, spring, Easter, NCAA March Madness and of course the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail’s Vino in the Valley event. This is the 16th year for the ticketed passport program event which features wine and food pairings at each of the nine wineries.

Just for fun, I checked the Internet to see what else happens in March and I found that there are 113 “national holidays” in March including National Mulled Wine Day on March 3. Then there are another 100 state and local “days.”

So if you’re looking for some reasons to come to our winery and celebrate, there is always some special day available. For Vynecrest, March is also the time of year we start bottling some of our 2015 harvest as our 2014 wine supply diminishes. And, in March we will be releasing our No. 37 wine, which represents the best of the best of the reds from our 37th harvest (2014). Last year, No. 36 was predominately Merlot; No. 37 will be predominately Cabernet Franc.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Get to know... Tina Rauenzahn of Clover Hill

Our new blog series continues in which we interview staff members at our trail's nine member wineries. This week we are profiling Tina Rauenzahn of Clover Hill.

1.         Which winery do you work for and how long have you worked there?
I work for Clover Hill Vineyards & Winery just shy of six years, but I have been drinking Clover Hill wines since they opened their doors as a winery.

2.     What is your favorite wine that your winery makes, and why? What do you like to pair it with?

I always enjoy Clover Hill Pinot Noir and Three when they are available, but since they are typically available only for limited times I would have to say my year-round favorite is Chambourcin. The earthy and spicy flavors from the American Oak aging add a nice contrast to the subtle cherry flavors of the Chambourcin grape. A good aged cheddar, roasted vegetables, or a cheese lasagna are some of my favorite foods to pair with our Chambourcin.

3.          What is the most popular question you get asked by visitors about Lehigh Valley wine or wineries, and how do you answer it?

Customers routinely ask when the next coordinated event will be. I offer details of when the next event is scheduled and give them the wine trail brochure, direct them to the website for information, and encourage them to sign up for the monthly e-newsletter so they do not miss any of the fun activities.

4.          What do you like most about local, Lehigh Valley wine and wineries?

I love that local wine tasting is growing in popularity and folks are finding out for themselves that PA wines are competitive to wines of other parts of the country. The Buy Fresh Buy Local idea has taken off in all facets of our lives.

5.          What is the one piece of advice you offer to wine lovers traveling along the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail?

I point out that Chambourcin is the only grape all 9 of the wine trail wineries have in common, but that they all produce the Chambourcin grape in different styles. I suggest they try it at each winery to find what style of Chambourcin appeals to them. I also suggest they travel the trail over the course of a couple of days (not trying to visit all nine wineries in one day) and I always offer them the LVWT brochure.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

7th Annual Cheesecake for a Cure at Galen Glen happening in April

Galen Glen Winery Teams with Local Relay Team to Raise Money for The American Cancer Society

On Saturday, April 16, Dr. Rosalee Rehrig and her Relay for Life Team will join with the staff at Galen Glen Winery on their 7th Annual Cheesecake for a Cure fundraiser for The American Cancer Society. From noon to 4 pm, the team will sell slices of homemade cheesecake.

When asked about her team's goals Dr. Rehrig said, "This year we have set a goal of $15,000. We raise funds for the American Cancer Society because they are dedicated to funding research and finding new treatments and a cure for cancer. Last year, the success of this event blew our team away!"

Sarah Troxell, winemaker, added, "Cancer strikes without discern across all races and creeds, and everyone knows someone who has had cancer or has been impacted by it. Galen Glen is proud to partner with The American Cancer Society and support the scientists who search for a cure by donating $1 per bottle of wine sold during this event."

Dr. Rehrig added, "As a doctor, I see patients with cancer every day. I've lost a good friend to cancer and I hope for a future where I never have to say, 'you have cancer.'" When asked about her favorite cheesecake, Dr. Rehrig responded, "Banana Cream, but then who can resist the Peanut Butter Cup with a glass of Winter Mountain Red?"

Rehrig is so proud of her relay team and their dedication to raise funds to end cancer. She states their inspiration is, "our friend Sandy. She was a great friend who passed within months of learning she had a brain tumor called Glioblastoma. If there were more treatments, maybe she could have been saved."

Tasting Room Manager Kathy Matson adds, "This year, cancer has impacted almost every member of our winery family in some way, through friends and relatives. This year we are even more driven to help raise funds for The American Cancer Society to end this insidious disease."

The event is open to the public and no reservations are required.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Get to know... Bonnie Pysher of Franklin Hill Vineyards

Our new blog series introducing you to the staff members at our wineries continues with Franklin Hill Vineyards Winemaker Bonnie Pysher:

Which winery do you work for and how long have you worked there?

Franklin Hill Vineyards for 34 years. I started the harvest of 1982 and the winery opened at Christmas 1982. Most visitors ask me how I got into winemaking. I tell them I had twins and they look baffled. That is actually how I got into making wine. I had 3-year-old twins when I started working at FHV in 1982. Elaine asked me to come help her label wine for Christmas and my response was "Oh to be able to talk to some adults would be great!” The rest is history. Now my twins are grown and I have four grandsons.

What is your favorite wine that your winery makes, and why? What do you like to pair it with?

That is a tough question. Fainting Goat which is black cherry and I pair it with Coke or Pepsi and lots of crushed ice. It tastes like adult Dr Pepper Black Cherry. Or our Crush which is Pomegranate Peach. I mix that with cranberry juice and lots of crushed ice. I pair both of them with "vacation.”
What is the most popular question you get asked by visitors about Lehigh Valley wine or wineries, and how do you answer it?

Not so much a question as a statement: "We didn't know you could grow grapes in PA.” My answer to that is that our little spot in PA is just like you would find in Germany. We have very shaley soil, just like Germany.

What do you like most about local, Lehigh Valley wine and wineries?

I love proving to people that you can grow grapes in PA and make good, quality wines here. I like the diversity of all of our wineries. Most of us use the same grapes, but the wines are all different.
What is the one piece of advice you offer to wine lovers traveling along the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail?

Take your time and enjoy our little piece of heaven. I think our area is so beautiful during every season. When visiting Franklin Hill Vineyards, you think you are driving to “no man’s land”, but you just don't know what you will find on your way back along our 1-mile long driveway. I live 2 miles from the winery and my traffic jam in the morning could be a tractor or a flock of turkeys or some deer standing in the lane!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The start of Vino in the Valley is just a few days away!

Our annual March passport program is starting this coming weekend, March 5 & 6 at all 9 of our wine trail's member wineries.

Online passport sales ended last week but a limited number of passport remain for sale at:

  • Amore
  • Blue Mountain
  • Clover Hill
  • Pinnacle Ridge
  • Tolino 

Passports are $35. You can pick them up this week, or this weekend if there are any left by then. Call ahead before visiting one of these wineries to ensure they still have passport left to sell you.

Read the Passport Program Rules before heading out, as well as our Tips for Traveling the Trail here.  One of those tips is that we recommend you plan on visiting no more than three wineries a day so you can get the most enjoyment out of your experience without being rushed. DO NOT try to visit all 9 wineries in one day. You will be too rushed and need to allow for time to drive from winery to winery safely. And of course, remember to always have a Designated Driver.

Group Guidelines:

No commercial vehicles of any type (buses, limos, vans, etc.) are allowed at the 9 member wineries during weekends in March. If you are traveling by car with a group of 8 or more people, appointments, scheduled in advance, are required at each winery you plan to visit.

Food and Wine Pairings:

Review the list of what each winery has planned for its food and wine pairings each weekend here, and then plan which wineries you will be visiting each weekend.

Where to pick up your passport holder gift: 

On the top left corner of your passport is a passport number. It correlates to a chart entitled "Pick up your gift" on the front of the passport. Check the chart to find out at which member winery you are to pick up your gift.

10 Important Things to Know about Vino in the Valley

If you are new to this annual event, or even if you've participated in it in the past, check out our blog post offering even more tips and advice to make it a great experience.

FYI - We will be launching a redesigned web site this Friday that is mobile friendly to make it more helpful when you are viewing it on a smart phone.