Clover Hill Winery, the second oldest in Pennsylvania, is currently helmed by second-generation winemaker, John Skrip III.
John learned the ins and outs of the winemaking business from his parents, the original planters of the vineyard, and added an oenology degree to his resume before taking over the family business. What he ended up with was a unique approach to winemaking – an approach that he describes as basic. At the core of his winemaking philosophy is a strong respect for the power of Mother Nature and the belief that his role as winemaker is to provide minimal but effective supervision.
“The key is getting good grapes from the start,” he shares. “Tending the vines properly by pulling leaves and stuffing shoots.”
His simple, but unflappable approach is one that serves the winery well in Pennsylvania’s unique and challenging growing climate. He takes the state’s varying temperatures, humidity levels, and rainfall amounts in stride, turning out a steady 75k gallons of wine each year.
“We struggled in 2012 during Hurricane Sandy, with too much rain during the harvest,” John remembers. “We learned to make the best of it and turn out decent wines, but just last year, we had incredible weather with warm and dry days with short bouts of just enough rain, turning out some of our best wines.”
John’s winemaking philosophy may be on the laid back side, but when the conversation turns to advocating for the national reputation of Pennsylvania wines, he gets passionate.
Like many of his fellow winemakers across the state, John is an ambassador for the local product and is encouraged by the fact that today’s wine drinkers are becoming more educated about and more experienced with Pennsylvania wines.
“We scramble to keep up with demand at times now. It’s a great sales climate. With wine being offered in grocery stores and shops, it offers a fantastic way to get people to try local wines. We also do the festival and farmers’ markets. Year-round farmers’ markets provide an excellent way for us to pair our wines with the local goods that a customer has just purchased.”
Another thing that John is passionate about? His family. Clover Hill is truly a family business. John runs the show with his wife, Stormy Anne, while his sister, Kari, heads up marketing and social media for the winery and its four satellite locations. Soon, a third generation will join the business when John’s oldest son graduates with his oenology degree from California State University in Fresno.
“That’s what I think motivates me,” John smiles. “We feed off of one another doing the ‘family business thing.’ No one wants to let the others down. We’re certainly not perfect, but we know how to make good wine and we love what we do.”