The Lehigh Valley Wine Trail encompasses the eight wineries in the geographical area surrounding Allentown, PA. They were granted their own AVA in 2008 and they lay claim to Pennsylvania’s fastest growing wine region. The LVWT was hosting their annual Wine on the Mountain festival this weekend and my lovely wife & I took the opportunity to check out what they had to offer.
So I set the GPS for the 90 minute trip up the northeast extension of the Turnpike. There was a threat of rain but the fest was touted as an indoor/outdoor event so I wasn’t too concerned. It was being held at Penn’s Peak just outside of Jim Thorpe up in white water rafting country from 12-5 on Saturday & Sunday. I’m not sure why but was expecting a hoedown, hay bale type of environment. I was way off.
Penn’s Peak is a large entertainment venue and the winery stands were all set up inside on the bottom floor. We arrived around 1:00 to a long line of people waiting to get in. Once inside, it was akin to a mob scene at the winery tables. I wanted to get a general sense of the LV grape juice before following up with winery visits. After much pushing and shoving, here’s a breakdown of what went on:
Amoré Vineyards & Winery – Amoré had a huge selection of wines, many of which were sold out. I had a taste of their Chambourcin and the similar Red Rapture, a slightly sweeter version. Both medium bodied reds. Amoré was offering specialty fruit flavored wines and a nice port-like dessert wine called Rapport. As the crowd here was overwhelming, I’ll have to make a personal visit to make a more thorough evaluation. No need to twist my arm on that front.
A side note – I’ve been attending these events for long enough to admit that at a high volume tasting like this, after awhile, everything will start to taste similar. Sure there are water & crackers available, but the first couple of wineries have an unfair advantage of catering to a taster’s untainted palate. Since I don’t normally take detailed notes and taste A LOT of wine, the juice will have to really knock my socks off to make a big impression. Just sayin.
Pinnacle Ridge Winery – A more narrow selection than Amoré, Pinnacle Ridge had a lot of Chambourcin based stuff. Chambourcin is the signature grape of the Lehigh Valley as it thrives in the environment up there.
The Merlot was very versatile. Good table wine with a nice finish (my fruit bomb bias is showing). There was a sweet red blend called Quaff, which Fran & I both enjoyed. Other notables are their sweet, white Niagara, Sweet Seduction (also from Chambourcin), and the sweet, red Concord. Most of their wine was around $11 a bottle, a super deal for lower volume wine of this quality. Buy local, I’m telling ya.
Vynecrest – Vynecrest was offering awesome bulk discounts of $10/6 bottles and $20/case. The Autumn Gold is their signature white blend. A fruity wine, which is great chilled in summer (Fran liked this). Two standouts for me were the Lemberger, a full bodied, tannic red and the unique Cherry DiVyne, which is made 100% from sour cherries. Vynecrest claims that the DiVyne is an unparalled, heavenly pairing with dark chocolate. I could see that.
Galen Glen Winery – Galen Glen has this pirate theme going on. I’m a sucker for stuff like this and I totally bought a tshirt. “Booty in a Bottle”, very clever. As for the wine, the Cab Franc was a spicy glass of EXCELLENCE. It got a ‘Top 10 Wine in PA’ award, and is a steal at $15/bottle. The citrusy Winter Mountain White was enjoyable also.
Franklin Hill Vineyards – These guys get an A for innovation. They emphasize environmentally friendly practices in production of their wine. And they have a unique selection of fruit based offerings. The blueberry bliss is an attention grabber just for the Windex-like color, but it had a nice blueberry punch as well. I don’t typically go for the alternate fruit wines but saw a lot of them at the festival today. I don’t want to be inflexible so I tried some of everything and was pleasantly surprised. Franklin Hill didn’t limit themselves as they also had the light, award-winning Sir Walter’s Red, another summer favorite.
As with any event like this, I wanted to try and see everything but it just wasn’t possible today. Blue Mountain Vineyards, Clover Hill and Big Creek were onsite but we didn’t have a chance to visit. The lines were incredible. They are proud of their vino up here in the Lehigh Valley.
A quick shout out to the artists, musicians & vendors who also contributed to this event. I picked up some habenero sauce and whiskey flavored bbq sauce from Randi’s. And the acoustic entertainment on Saturday was provided by Billy Bauer Unplugged.
I look forward to returning to this beautiful part of the state which is right at the edge of the Pocono Mountains. Their wine culture is thriving but there is so much more to see.
Until next time. Thanks always to my readers.