Pack the Ultimate Wine Picnic

You’ve driven by the “winery” sign dozens of times and you know there are wineries in your area, but have you taken the time to really explore them? When is the last time you took a road trip, packed a picnic or had an outdoor adventure? This is the season to do it!

No matter where you are in Pennsylvania, there’s a local winery less than an hour from you. Seize the day! Call your best buds or sweep your love off for a wine-infused picnic. Here’s how:

AN OUNCE OF PREPARATION

Before you rush out the door, you’ve got a few things to ensure your adventure is amazing.

First, decide which wineries you want to visit. Pennsylvania is home to six regions, and within those regions are numerous trails and wineries. Visit www.pennsylvaniawine.com to create a custom itinerary.

Decide if you’ll picnic at the winery or purchase some bottles and take them to a park that allows alcohol. But first, be sure to check the park rules and regulations! Note: Alcohol is not allowed in State or National Parks.

It’s easiest to set up your blanket at a winery where drinking is definitely allowed. But note that you can’t bring outside wines (or any other alcoholic beverages) onto the property. That shouldn’t pose a problem, though, because every PA winery has plenty of wines from which to choose.

Plan for detours! Pennsylvania is a rich and storied place, full of wonderful spots to visit. You may know about the Brandywine Battlefield, Fallingwater, The National Aviary or the Alan Seeger Natural Area. But did you know that in Pennsylvania you can also visit a house shaped like a shoe, eat the world’s largest hamburger, play mini-golf in a cave or visit the Zippo lighter factory? Do some creative Googling to find historical sites, landmarks or parks that are near your wine destinations and you’ll make the trip that much more memorable.

Leave extra time for stopping on a whim to pick berries at a PA Preferred farm or enjoying a view along our state’s many scenic roads.

BYOF(ood)

Most wineries have live entertainment, offer snacks like cheese and crackers and many times have food trucks or visiting food providers for a fun variety of options. In any case, all wineries are BYOF. Because you’re planning the perfect picnic, rely on the winery for the bottles and you bring the food.

Sandwiches and simple sides are great options. See our suggested recipes below to get started. Source ingredients locally. Hit up your local farmers’ market, farm or roadside stand to source PA Preferred ingredients for the freshest flavors.

PACK LIKE A PRO

Blanket and basket: be sure to choose a washable blanket that you aren’t afraid to get a little dirty (or take a spill of wine). Because you’ll be hanging out for a while, choose something soft and comfortable. A scratchy blanket can ruin the relaxing picnic vibe.

Opt for stemless glasses. This way you can easily place the glass on a flat surface and reduce the risk of breaking the stem or spilling (if you forget, all wineries have plenty of stemmed glasses to borrow). Bring mason jars or glasses with mug handles for fruit salad, on the spot sangrias or water (with lemon).

Convenient containers: pre-portion for each person to make mealtime low-stress. Prepare the night before and pack in washable, sealable containers like mason jars or plastic containers to keep the waste to a minimum, or reuse some plastic takeout containers. Wrap sandwiches, breads, or cheeses in parchment paper and tie with twine. It makes for easy cleanup and the paper is a great crumb catcher.

Ice packs: Chill only the foods that need to be cold to maximize the ice.

Don’t forget utensils and napkins. Go for cloth napkins to cut down on waste. These can also be used to wrap up dirty utensils to transport home.

Tip: Bring outdoor basics like sunglasses, sunscreen and bug spray to stay comfortable.

Don’t forget H20! Fill up reusable bottles before you go and chill them the night before. They’ll also help keep the perishables colder longer.

MENU

This lovely picnic menu includes great options for an easy and delicious winery picnic. We prepared all of your classic picnic favorites to pair well with Pennsylvania wines.

Check with your fellow road-trippers to see if anyone has dietary restrictions. Accommodations for the non-meat eaters can include grilled veggies or a Caprese sandwich (with PA Preferred mozzarella, PA tomatoes, local basil, a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper).

Chicken Salad Sandwich
Farm-to-Table Green Bean Salad with Dijon Mustard Dressing
Pennsylvania Cheese Spread
Rhubarb Jam
Fruit Salad

*These are our choices, but feel free to substitute your own!

WINE PAIRING SUGGESTIONS

Try these, or pick your favorites while visiting the winery:

Pink Catawba, The Vineyard & Brewery at Hershey
Diamond, Arrowhead Wine Cellars
Pinot Grigio, Shade Mountain Winery
Pinot Gris, Fero Vineyards

Chicken Salad Sandwich

Serves 4
2 cups of chopped rotisserie chicken, skin removed
2 Tbsp whole-grain mustard
1/2 cup mayonnaise with olive oil
1 bunch local parsley, chopped
¾ cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup grapes, halved
Salt and pepper to taste
4 ciabatta rolls, halved
2 cups local spring mix, optional

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard and mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the chicken, walnuts, and grapes. Add the mustard/mayonnaise mixture and stir to coat the salad.
  3. Place 4 halves of a ciabatta roll onto a work surface. Top each half with a serving of chicken salad, add a portion of spring mix and top with remaining half.

Farm-to-Table Green Bean Salad with Dijon Mustard Dressing

Serves 8
1 lb local green beans, trimmed
1 lb local wax beans, trimmed
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup chopped tarragon
juice of 1 lemon
1 pint local cherry tomatoes, halved
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a large pot over high heat bring 5 cups of water to a boil. Add green beans and wax beans and cook for about 5 minutes or until the green beans are al dente. Drain the beans from liquid and chill.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together Dijon mustard, olive oil, tarragon, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the green beans and wax beans in a large bowl. Add the tomatoes and tarragon dressing. Toss until the dressing coats all of the vegetables.
  4. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Pennsylvania Cheese Spread

Serves 2-4
8 oz. shredded Pennsylvania sharp white cheddar cheese
1 cup grated parmesan
12 oz. local cream cheese

  1. In a food processor, add the cream cheese and pulse until soft. Add the cheddar and parmesan cheese to the cream cheese and pulse until smooth.
  2. Spoon the cheese spread into airtight containers and store in the refrigerator.  Serve the cheeses spread with fresh bread or crackers.


Rhubarb Jam

Serves 2-4
6 stalks Pennsylvania rhubarb, chopped
Pinch of salt
4 cups sugar
Juice of one lemon
1/2 cup water

  1. In a large saucepan combine the rhubarb, sugar, and water. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium-low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until think. Add the lemon juice and stir to combine.
  2. Store in a nonreactive container (e.g., glass, plastic or clay) in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Fruit Salad

Serves 2-4
1 pint local blackberries
1 pint local raspberries
1 pint local strawberries, hulls removed and quartered
2 kiwi, peeled and diced

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and kiwis.
  2. Portion the fruit into bowls and serve.

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