Back in September, we had the opportunity to take a group of friends to the Adams County Winery in the days before our wedding and were shocked at the quality and variety of their offerings. Ever since we've become increasingly interested about the mini vacation that is your local winery. While we had planned on shunning Cupid and spending a quiet Valentine's weekend at home, we instead decided to use our free day to take advantage of the Berks County wine trail. If we needed any additional motivation, the fact that it was Valentine's day weekend meant that each spot offered a dessert and wine pairing at each destination on the trail (chocolate + free booze = love).
We charted our course using the trail's website and set off to our first stop - the Pinnacle Winery,off of interstate 78 in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. The tasting room was located in a rehabbed barn and had all of the charm you would expect from a rural Pennsylvania winery. The place was packed but we wiggled our way up to the bar and picked a few wines to taste. They had a few deals for purchasing by the case, but we left with just a single delicious Riesling. Pinnacle definitely gets brownie points for having the best dessert of the day - a mini chocolate cake with an apricot glaze that they paired with a Late Harvest Vidal. We'll definitely be back here - the fact that it was our first stop prevented us from purchasing as much as we might have otherwise.
Stop #2 - Bashore and Stoudt, a small country winery just a few more miles down 78 specializing in fruit wines. Fruit wines aren't necessarily our cup of tea, but we tasted a few and picked up a Raspberry variety for my rents. Super sweet and perfect for dessert (if I know my Mom, it will be enjoyed with a creamy piece of cheesecake).
That's where the fun really began. Off the interstate and on to Pennsylvania back country roads (nothing better for the soul if I do say so myself). We twisted and turned until we reached Calvaresi Winery. We sampled a Cab, a Riesling and a Port. ($12.95) Their facility also includes an outdoor pavilion which they use for festivals in the spring and summer (we heard rumblings of an Elvis impersonator this April).
Our last stop was Clover Hill Winery and their newly built facilities were a surprising treat. The best part about this place was their wine menu -- neatly organized with a color coded sweetness scale. Beyond a beautiful facility, we were treated to some wonderful tasting from the owner and even received a special recipe for one of the wines that we purchased. Our favorite wine was their Oak Vidal Blanc ($12.99). A delicious white aged in oak casks (inspired by a towering oak tree on the winery grounds). Their tasting room is open M-F and Sat/Sun from 12pm-5pm.
All in all - a good day's work. Now for the fun part....sampling our purchases :)
P.S. We were extremely impressed with not only the taste of these local wines, but also the variety and unique hybrids made possible by our local climate. Check to see if your region has a wine trail. We've added a few links to a few wine regions in the Mid-Atlantic below.