Philadelphia Sommeliers and Industry Insiders Toast to Top Pennsylvania Wines

Fero Vineyards & Winery, Nimble Hill Vineyard & Winery, and South Shore Wine Company Receive Best-of Honors at PA Sommelier Judgment during PA Wine Month.

Members of Philadelphia’s food and wine community gathered at Talula’s Daily on October 15, 2018, to celebrate Pennsylvania Wine Month and the state’s best wine determined by the 2018 PA Sommelier Judgment tasting panel. The panel, made up of 14 regional sommeliers and wine experts, tasted upwards of 100 Pennsylvania wines in a blind tasting in early September. The top ten wines were featured at the PA Sommelier Judgment event and the coveted Best-of sabers were awarded to Fero Vineyard & Winery Bison Roots Red for Best Red, Nimble Hill Vineyard & Winery 2017 Toczko Vineyards Riesling for Best White, and Best in State was awarded to South Shore Wine Company for the 2017 Grüner Veltliner. The wines were paired with a menu selected by Aimee Olexy, which, naturally, had a focus on local ingredients.

For the second year, the PA Sommelier Judgment was led by Scott Zoccolillo, Wine Director for Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse in Center City Philadelphia, who regularly organizes tastings with a group of local sommeliers and wine experts. “While I have been an advocate for the local wine scene for years, my exposure has often been limited by recommendations. This is the second year that we held the Pennsylvania Sommelier Judgment and the wines that have been submitted continue to impress me in both quality and variety,” described Zoccolillo. “The past two years have exposed me, and our group of Philadelphia sommeliers and wine professionals, to wineries that we may not have discovered on our own. The varietal offerings that wineries are growing and producing have expanded exponentially. I am extremely happy with the quality that our local wineries are producing. I can’t wait to see what the state will produce next year!”

The PA Sommelier Judgment, a coordinated effort between Zoccolillo and the Pennsylvania Winery Association, sets itself apart from typical wine competitions based on the opportunity it offers and the feedback it shares with participating wineries. “This event provides an opportunity for sommeliers and wine experts to taste and familiarize themselves with local wines and varietals. In turn, wineries gain exposure to key beverage decision-makers and receive important feedback that can influence future vintages stylistically and with regards to positioning,” explained Jennifer Eckinger, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Winery Association. “Expanding the exposure and, ultimately, the availability of PA wines is a good thing for the industry as a whole.”

In fact, the accessibility of local wines in restaurants across the region is growing. In October, restaurants across the state are putting a spotlight on local wines during Pennsylvania Wine Month with by-the-glass specials and events featuring local winemakers. The month-long promotional effort offers a great opportunity for wine enthusiasts to discover a variety of delicious wines produced locally. Details here.

The affinity for Pennsylvania wines does not stop at the end of PA Wine Month. Wine programs across the state continue to add local wines to their menus – by the bottle, glass, and on tap – for which they’re beginning to see national recognition.

The 2018 PA Sommelier Judgment panel was made up of 14 stellar sommeliers and wine experts from the greater Philadelphia region. The complete list, details of the competition, and top wines are included below.

The panel tasted 92 wines submitted from 25 wineries over two rounds of a partially-blind tasting, only knowing the vintage and varietal. For the first round, the sommeliers were placed in small groups focusing on 2-3 varietals. The wines were graded on a 1-10 rating in categories of sight, nose, taste, and finish. The sommeliers also provided qualitative feedback related to restaurant readiness. The top 20 wines based on total scores moved on to the second round when the sommeliers tasted all wines using the same quantitative scoring.

2018 PA Sommelier Judgment Panel:
Alexandra Cherniavsky, The Love
Bart Riley, Scarpetta
Bill Eccelson, Panorama
Heather Curtis, The Final Cut Steakhouse
Jill Weber, Jet Wine Bar
Maria van Schaijik, Andiario
Marnie Old, Sommelier and Author
Rebecca Breasch, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse
Rebecca Sollosi, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse
Robin Shreeves, Sommelier and Journalist
Samantha Germani, The Rittenhouse Hotel
Scott Strader, Plenty Café
Scott Zoccolillo, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse
Westley Satterwhite, The Final Cut Steakhouse

2018 PA Sommelier Judgement Results:
Best in State: South Shore Wine Company 2017 Grüner Veltliner (Erie County)
Best Red: Fero Vineyards & Winery Bison Roots Red (Union County)
Best White: Nimble Hill Vineyard & Winery 2017 Toczko Vineyards Riesling (Wyoming County)

Additional wines in the top 10 (listed in alphabetical order):
1723 Vineyards 2017 Albariño (Chester County)
Armstrong Valley Vineyards & Winery 2016 Cabernet Franc (Dauphin County)
Armstrong Valley Vineyards & Winery 2017 Riesling
Flickerwood Wine Cellars 2017 Riesling (McKean County)
Mazza Vineyards 2017 Riesling (Erie County)
Mazza Vineyards 2016 Teroldego
Vynecrest Vineyard & Winery 2017 Riesling (Lehigh County)

Honorable Mentions (listed in alphabetical order):
1723 Vineyards 2016 Cabernet Franc
Armstrong Valley Vineyards & Winery 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon
Chaddsford Winery 2015 Petit Verdot (Delaware County)
Grace Winery 2016 1734 Red Blend (Delaware County)
Grandview Vineyards 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (Lancaster County)
Greendance Winery 2017 Sauvignon Blanc (Westmoreland County)
Maple Springs Vineyard 2016 Pinot Noir (Berks County)
Pinnacle Ridge Winery 2017 Cabernet Franc (Berks County)
Stony Run Winery 2016 Albariño (Berks County)
Stony Run Winery 2016 Sauvignon Blanc

Photos from the PA Sommelier Judgment tasting held on September 10, 2018, at Talula’s Garden can be downloaded here. Credit to Ted Nghiem.

Photos from the PA Sommelier Judgment awards event held during PA Wine Month on October 15, 2018, at Talula’s Daily can be downloaded here. Credit to Ted Nghiem. Guests included:

  • Aimee Olexy, Talula’s Garden
  • Alexandra Cherniavsky, The Love
  • Bari Gold, Bari’s Belly
  • Ellen Yin, High Street Hospitality
  • Emmet Riddick, Wineadelphia
  • Geo Darwin, Geo’s Table
  • Gianna Leflar & Megan Dugery, Swag Food Philly
  • Jennifer Eckinger, Pennsylvania Winery Association
  • Jill Weber, Jet Wine Bar
  • Laura Burkhardt & Britney Norman, Visit Philadelphia
  • Laura England, Director, Bureau of Market Development, Department of Agriculture
  • Maria van Schaijik, Andiario
  • Michael McCauley, Tria Wine Bar
  • Scott Zoccolillo, Del Frisco’s

About the Pennsylvania Winery Association
The Pennsylvania Winery Association is a non-profit trade association representing more than 130 member wineries and an advocate on behalf of the state’s growing multibillion-dollar wine industry. With some of the most fertile grape-growing land on the east coast, Pennsylvania ranks fifth nationally in the number of grapes grown, seventh in wine production, and seventh in the number of licensed wineries. To learn more about Pennsylvania wine or to plan a trip,


Press Contact
Jessie Tettemer
[email protected]

Jennifer Eckinger, Executive Director
Pennsylvania Winery Association
[email protected]



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