Today’s trip was the result of a last minute change of plans. A week ago, I was anticipating a relatively quiet weekend before embarking on a crazy, July work schedule. Things change quicky in today’s connected world, however. Not that I’m complaining. A chance to see a fave band from my youth on Friday (Rush – I’m still a huge fan) from a luxury box and then a last minute winery trip came together. Boom! Full weekend. My head is still pounding (in a GOOD way) from the show and I can only hope for a quiet Monday. Not likely, but no regrets.
So the drive up to Kutztown in nearby PA Dutch Country took just over an hour, thanks to some creative driving on my part (You’re welcome, honey). The winery is located in a large red barn surrounded by fields and fields of grapevines. Pinnacle Ridge projects a quiet, unassuming presence so much that the uninformed visitor wouldn’t know that they produce barrel after barrel of award winning wine here. Perhaps a visit during harvest season would give a different impression.
There were roughly fifteen customers in the tasting room upon our arrival. Pinnacle Ridge charges a standard tasting fee of five dollars for six (generous, roughly 2 ounce) samples which is refunded if a bottle is purchased. I enjoyed a limited cross section of their stuff at last year’s Wine On The Mountain event at Penn’s Peak. Today, however the whole lineup was on the table. No holds barred today.
Pinnacle Ridge, and the Lehigh Valley in general are known for a little known grape called Chambourcin. I think it’s safe to put it in the love it or hate it category. I personally think it’s awesome, but it’s in a class by itself and an acquired taste. Pinnacle had a variety of offerings based on this grape and I recommend trying them all. You’re bound to find something you like. All of Pinnacle Ridge’s grapes are either estate grown or brought in locally from elsewhere in Berks County.
So, tasting in standard order, top to bottom, we had sparkling, dry whites, Rosé, sweet whites, dry reds and sweet reds.
Maria greeted my group with a smile and a soft, Danish accent. We all kicked the tasting off with some bubbles. Pinnacle only has one sparkler open at a time, today it happened to be the Blanc de Blanc (Non vintage, $16). Made from the Cayuga grape, it was not overly dry & just a touch of sweetness. A powerful finish for a wine as light as this.
From there we followed our palates and went our separate ways. Personally, I went with the Dry Vidal Blanc (2012, $10), a Finger Lakes medal winner. Light, citrusy and chilled, it’s favorable selection for summer.
The Chambourcin Rosé (2011, $10) is the only blush offered here. A light selection with strawberry flavors and a hint of apple. Also suitable to enjoy a chilled bottle outside in warm weather. Which we did after the tasting.
I personally skipped right past the sweet whites. Don’t read anything into that, I was just chomping at the bit to get to the reds. The Chambourcin (2011, $14) and Chambourcin Reserve (2010, $16) both exhibit concentrated, oaky flavors. The Reserve is a more full bodied, tannic selection. I’d have to say this was my favorite wine today. Also notable is the Trio (2010, $29), a collective project of the finest vintage Cab Franc, Merlot & Syrah with neighboring wineries Allegro and Manatawny Creek. The full menu of Pinnacle Ridge wines can be found HERE.
All four of us finished our tasting with the Quaff (2011, $12). Pinnacle Ridge markets this sweet red selection as the “Pizza wine”. Quaff is a blend of Chambourcin, Syrah and Pinot Noir. Unfortunately there wasn’t any pizza around to test the validity of this presumption. And speaking of pizza, have I ever mentioned how wine tasting can really wake up your appetite?
Two bottles of wine for a group of four and a box of wine crackers, about 4 hours after lunch doesn’t quite cut it. And seeing how it was kind of rural, I asked our other hostess, Christie if there was any good restaurants around. She suggested De Marco’s, right up the street. Italian food struck a positive vibe with all four of us, so it was settled.
De Marco’s Italian Restaurant is in the heart of Lehigh Valley’s wine region, and right off Interstate 78. I have a feeling this might be our regular place. I had lobster bisque and the shrimp alfredo. I’m a sucker for rich, creamy pasta but it doesn’t burn off as easily as it used to. Everything was fantastic. Our waitress was super also. When you can convert a self described beer hater to try a local microbrew, those are skills. Cheers, Amber.
A good day. Not much else to say. I’m going to stop writing now. Thanks for reading.