Pennsylvania Grapes Guide

pa-wine-grapes-guide-pennsylvania-wine

Pennsylvania’s climate and terroir nurture a diverse variety of grapes to delight any palette from connoisseur to novice and anywhere in between.

 

FROM LIGHTEST WHITE TO DEEPEST RED

Note: Wine color varies greatly from region to region, winery to winery, and winemaker to winemaker. The scale below is based on the average expression of each wine.


RIESLING (REES-ling) varies from sweet to dry depending on winemaking style and region of origin. Wines from the NorthWest region have a sweet peach flavor with a crisp tartness, while SouthCentral varietal have more citrus and floral notes.


CAYUGA (kuh-YOO-guh) is a workhorse: it’s cold-hardy, high-yielding, disease-resistant, reliably high quality, and can be made into dry, sweet, or sparkling styles depending on when it’s harvested.


VIGNOLES (veen-YOL) is an aromatic variety with tropical fruit characters. Its sweet, fruity flavors can be made into a dessert/ice wine or a gently sweet table wine. It can also be aged in oak to produce a Chardonnay-like full-bodied wine.


DELAWARE (DEH-luh-wair) is typically on the sweeter side and can be made in white, rosé, dessert, and sparkling styles. It is grown across the state, but primarily in the NorthWest region.


VIDAL BLANC (vee-DAHL BLAHNK) boasts tropical fruit notes and can be produced in dry, semi- dry, dessert, and ice wine styles. It is grown across the state and varies by region. Wines produced in the NorthWest region are bright and crisp while those from the SouthCentral region are more floral in flavor.


ALBARIÑO (ahl-bah-REE-nyoh) is a dry, crisp alternative to Sauvignon Blanc. When grown in warmer regions with more clay in the soil, ripe fruit flavors take center stage while grapes from cooler climates and sandier soil showcase strong citrus notes.


SEYVAL BLANC (say-VAHL BLAHNK) is a dry white that can be either aged in oak, made into sparkling wine, or employed in a blend. In addition to its versatility, its resistance to cold weather makes it popular throughout Pennsylvania. It exhibits minerality and notes of citrus, green apple, hay, and melon.


NIAGARA (nay-AE-gruh) varies from sweet to off-dry with grapey flavors and candied lemon and floral jasmine aromas. Niagara grapes are grown across PA, primarily in the NorthWest region.


GRÜNER VELTLINER (GREW-ner velt-LEE-ner) is a crisp, dry, aromatic white with a grassy, green bean, or dill flavor and hints of tropical fruits. It is well-established in the SouthEast region, but is growing in production throughout the state.


CHARDONNAY (SHAR-duh-nay) can be made in a variety of styles including sparkling, oaked, and unoaked. Fruity, floral, and acid notes are apparent in unoaked styles while hints of vanilla and caramel come out after some time in a barrel. Local Chardonnays are very similar in style to those found in Europe.


PINOT GRIGIO OR PINOT GRIS (PEE-noh GREE-joe or PEE-noh GREE) is typically made in a dry, non-oaked wine style with citrusy fruit flavors.


MUSCAT (mohs-KAAT) is a light-bodied, sweet white wine with tropical fruit notes and floral aromas that can be produced in a still or lightly sparkling style.


GEWÜRZTRAMINER (Guh-VERTZ-tra-mean-er) is an off-dry wine similar to Moscato with bold aromatics of lychee and rose. Fresh flavors like lime and lemongrass are sometimes punctuated by a bit of fizz.


TRAMINETTE (TRA-men-et) can be made in off-dry and dry styles, with spicy and floral aromas alongside flavors of lychee, apricot, and honey. It can be found across Pennsylvania, primarily in the NorthCentral and SouthEast regions.


CATAWBA (kuh-TAW-buh) resembles White Zinfandel with a sweeter taste, medium body, and moderate acidity. It has mild berry and fruit notes and when done in a sparkling style, has floral aromas with muted fruity undertones. Look for it across the state, but mostly in the NorthWest region.


BACO NOIR (BAH-koh NWAHR) is lush and dry and can be made in a variety of styles. Lighter expressions have aromas of raspberry and blueberry and flavors of sour cherry, lavender, earth, and oak while darker versions are more robust with flavors of cedar, tobacco, and blackberry.


STEUBEN (STOO-ben) is spicy and sweet with hints of honey. It is often described as “grape juice with a kick”. It has a slightly “foxy” flavor and can be made into a light red or rosé style. Like many hybrids, Steuben can be found in any region of the state.


PINOT NOIR (PEE-noe NWAHR) is dry with a stunning garnet color, medium body, vivid acidity, and smooth tannins. Look for flavors of cherry, raspberry, and mushroom, and when aged in oak, clove, tobacco, leather, vanilla, and hibiscus.


MARQUETTE (mahr-KET) is a complex hybrid related to Pinot Noir. It produces a similar style wine with medium body, red berry flavors, and a peppery spice. It can also be produced in a rosé style.


MARECHAL FOCH (MAH-reh-shal FOSH) can vary from light to intense to sweet when used in fortified Port-like wines. A strong acidity is balanced by aromas of black fruits with flavors of toasted wheat, fresh coffee, bitter chocolate, vanilla bean, and musk.


PETIT VERDOT (peh-TEE vur-DOE) is dry and full-bodied and can vary in flavor depending on the growing climate. In cooler areas, flavors of dried herbs, tart blueberry, and blackberry take center stage while warmer conditions produce jammy dark fruit notes. Aging in oak adds notes of vanilla and hazelnut.


TEROLDEGO (tehr-AWL-deh-go) is fresh, bright, and dry with mild tannins, punchy acidity, and aromas of dark fruit and smoke. Flavors include cranberry, pomegranate, and raspberry balanced out by pepper, anise, and earth.


CABERNET FRANC (CAB-er-nay FRANC) is an earthy, peppery, and aromatic red with cherry, dark fruit, herbs, spice, and violets on the nose. Aging in oak adds even more spice. Notes of leather, dried fruits, and nuts can be acquired when aged in a cellar.


CONCORD (KON-chord) is a sweet, dark red with a strong grapey flavor. It can be grown across PA, but is primarily found in the NorthWest region where it is mostly used for juice or jelly.


CHANCELLOR (CHAN-suh-ler) is typically ruby red in color with medium body and mild acidity. Its fruit flavors of soft red cherries, blackberries, and cinnamon resemble White Zinfandel. It can also be produced in a dry style or barrel-aged.


MERLOT (mer-LOW) typically has savory and earthy flavors with hints of mushroom. Grown in the SouthCentral and SouthEast regions of the state, the wine’s flavor is impacted by climate. Warmer, drier years bring out jammy tastes with dark fruit notes like black cherry or plum.


LEMBERGER (LEHM-ber-ger) can fall into two categories: strong and full-bodied like a California Zinfandel, or lighter and softer like a Pinot Noir. Aging in oak barrels can mellow its acidity and complement its cherry, chocolate, and spice aromas and flavors.


CHAMBOURCIN (SHAHM-boor-sin) has earthy, tobacco, and vanilla aromas, a supple mouthfeel, and an intense red color. It is often aged in oak to round out acidity. Chambourcin can be found all across Pennsylvania.


CABERNET SAUVIGNON (CAB-er-naySAW-vin-YAWN) is greatly impacted by its growing climate. Cooler, wet vintages bring out herbal notes while while warmer, dry vintages are earthier and fruitier.


CARMINE (CAR-meen; CAR-mine) produces a full-bodied, deep crimson wine with strong, dry tannins and sour acidity. It has dark fruit flavors, herbaceous aromas, and peppery notes, and is well-suited to aging.


SYRAH (sih-RAH) is another grape that is greatly impacted by its climate. Warmer growing seasons produce jammy, red fruit flavors while cooler growing seasons bring out chocolate, coffee, and earthy notes.


NOIRET (nwahr-ET) is dry and peppery with hints of raspberry. When used in a Port-style wine, notes of raspberry, dried blackberry, cocoa powder, espresso, and black cherry are apparent.


SAPERAVI (sah-per-RA-vee) is typically a full- bodied dry red with an inky color, but can also be made in rosé, semi-sweet, sweet, and fortified styles. Flavors of dark fruits, cherry, blackberry, spics, smoke, and licorice are joined by cedar and vanilla when aged in oak.

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