The mercury is dropping across Pennsylvania, which means the holiday season is fast approaching. Most Commonwealth wineries are family-run businesses, so they can bring their traditions to work with them.
We chatted with some of the state’s wineries about their favorite seasonal dishes, annual rites, and top picks for holiday wines.
At M&M Vineyards in Bangor, it’s all about gathering the family for cooking, eating, drinking, and watching James Bond movies. On the table, there’s roasted turkey, rack of lamb, vegetarian bean casserole, roasted sweet potatoes with walnut and brown sugar, and garlic mashed potatoes.
“We never forget to enjoy Beaujolais, the fruity wine release of the year,” says the Sidhu family. “Our Chardonnay goes beautifully with roasted turkey, and dry Cabernet Franc with a rack of lamb, rump roast, or a juicy steak. It’s a match made in heaven!”
Meanwhile, at Hawstone Hollow Winery in Lewistown, the Naylor family gets into the spirit with seasonal specialties, including cranberry wine (a perfect companion with turkey) and warm milled apple wine (serve it alongside pumpkin pie).
Every year at Happy Valley Vineyards & Winery, owners Elwin Stewart and Barb Christ deck the halls for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. To make the work more festive, they crack a bottle of Happy Valley Spice, garnished with orange slices.
“At home for our Christmas meal, we serve turkey,” they explain. “We pair it with our Traminette or Happy Valley White [an off-dry blend].”
While they welcome wine lovers throughout the holiday season, the Happy Valley team eagerly anticipates one very special guest: Santa Claus arrives at the State College winery riding on a John Deere tractor.
On Christmas Eve, the fires at Folino Estate Vineyard & Winery in Kutztown are burning bright, as the family serves up the Feast of the Seven Fishes, an Italian tradition.
“The meal features seven courses of fresh seafood,” says the Folino family. “It’s an evening spent with family, friends, and other loved ones. Classic dishes include baccala (salted codfish), fried calamari, pasta with mussels or crabs, etc. Each dish is prepared with love and secret recipes passed down between generations.”
For the iconic meal, they pop the cork on their favorite whites, but for heavier red-sauce dishes, the Folinos recommend the winery’s Lorenzo Forte (a bold blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot) or Black Label Valentino (an earthy Chianti-style blend of Teroldego, Barbera and Cabernet Sauvignon).
For dessert, there’s panettone, the traditional Italian Christmas Bread. The family also serves up panettone french toast for brunch in their restaurant. Babbo Natale, or Santa Claus, visits the winery three times: during their Holiday Open House Festival (December 2) and Brunch with Santa (December 16 and December 23).
Meanwhile, at Glades Pike Winery in Somerset, the Addleman family takes the “Season of Giving” idea seriously, participating in Toys for Tots and donating gift certificates to help raise money for those in need. They also craft new decorations every single year and help the kids write letters to Santa.
“We decorate the winery as if it’s our house to make it festive and welcoming,” says the family.
On the seasonal table, there’s squash casserole, green bean casserole, and candied yams. The Addlemans serve turkey with the winery’s semi-dry Riesling and homemade apple and pumpkin pies with their spiced apple wine (warm it up for even more holiday cheer). If there’s ham, the family always pairs it with their Baco Noir, a medium-bodied red with deep black cherry aromas.
What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? Share them with us by tagging @PAWines on Instagram and @PAWineLand on Facebook. And don’t forget to spruce up your table with a bottle of Pennsylvania wine.