Don’t be fooled by everything you hear about Pennsylvania wines. We’re here to clear up some common misconceptions about this flourishing industry.
Myth #1: All Pennsylvania wines are sweet.
Many people assume that the state’s wineries only grow native grapes like Concord and Niagara, which tend to be on the sweeter side. But that’s just not the case! Many of the world’s most popular — and famously dry — varietals excel in the Keystone State. Keep your eyes peeled for a Grüner Veltliner (a dry, crisp white), a light, fragrant Pinot Noir, or a spicy Cabernet Franc. Long story short: no matter what your taste, you’ll find a wine you love made in Pennsylvania.
Myth #2: There isn’t a winery or vineyard close to me.
Think you need to hop on a plane to visit a winery or vineyard? Nope — you don’t even need a full tank of gas! The Commonwealth is home to more than 250 wineries, spread all across the state. From any address in Pennsylvania, you’re less than one hour’s drive from a winery. Check out this interactive map to plan your next wine-centric adventure.
Myth #3: PA wines are hard to find.
It’s never been easier to find bottles produced in Pennsylvania. In addition to your nearby wineries and tasting rooms, a recent shift in state law means that licensed grocery stores can now sell wine. Local wines can also be found at the PLBC’s Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores, some of which even have specially curated “Made in Pennsylvania” sections. A growing number of bars and restaurants have embraced the drink local ethos, as well, adding exciting regional vintages to their wine lists.
Myth #4: Pennsylvania is new to the wine industry.
While there has been an explosion of new wineries in the Commonwealth over the last few years, winemaking has been a part of the state’s fabric since its inception. In 1683, William Penn planted Pennsylvania’s first vineyard in Philadelphia, and there are a host of wineries that have been producing top-flight wines for decades. Clover Hill Vineyards & Winery owners, John and Pat Skrip, first planted grapes in the early ’70s, and their kids are taking over the Lehigh Valley stalwart. It’s a similar story at Lancaster County’s Nissley Vineyards, where J. Richard “Dick” Nissley and his wife, Anna, have created a multi-generational family business. Meanwhile, out in the northwest corner of the state, on the shores of Lake Erie, Mazza Vineyards has been in operation for 45 years, and Presque Isle Wine Cellars operates one of the two licensed PA wineries (the other was Penn Shore Vineyards) that opened in 1969 — the first since Prohibition. Presque Isle founder Doug Moorhead was instrumental in the passage of the Limited Winery Act of 1968, a piece of legislation that fostered the production of wine grapes and allowed Pennsylvania wineries to sell directly to consumers, paving the way for today’s thriving industry.
Myth #5: PA isn’t a major grape producer
Pennsylvania is the fifth largest producer of wine grapes in the U.S. and the third largest producer of juice grapes. That’s a whole lot of grapes! The state has more than 250 commercial vineyards comprised of 11,000 acres, for a total production of over 63,600 tons of grapes.