Lehigh Valley Wine Trail Harvest Weekend

The weekend of September 12 and 13th was the Harvest Weekend for the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail.  What exactly is Harvest Weekend, you ask?
Why, it’s a celebration of the fact that the grapes are ripe and ready for the pickin’!  I visited two of the many local wineries, Vynecrest and Clover Hill.  As I pulled up to Vynecrest on the drizzly Saturday I parked right along a row of vines full of dark, delicious-looking grapes.  The place was packed, especially for such a small winery.

Inside there were two tasting bars, one large one and another smaller one.  Both were fairly packed so I waited my turn to be served.  Vynecrest was partnered with the Hereford County Store and StoneCroft Farm to provide bread and cheese for the weekend.  On hand Saturday were representatives of Stonecroft selling cheese and Sunday there were representatives of the Hereford County Store selling their bread.  The bread and cheese pairing for Saturday was a lemon vidal blanc goat cheese paired with a caramel onion and focaccia bread.  Both were delicious in their own right, however it seemed that the lemon in the cheese overpowered any of the nuances that the bread may have contributed.  StoneCroft was also showcasing another cheese, their chive and garlic goat cheese, which was potent but tasty.

On to the wines!  Vynecrest allows  you to taste six different wines on their property.  I had previously tasted many of them at a Lehigh Valley Wine Trail event so I decided only to taste four of the dry red wines here.  Downstairs at Vynecrest is Tom’s Vyneskellar in the beautiful basement of the old Swiss bank barn that houses the tasting and retail areas.  The entire ceiling is constructed of old wood and has a bar that serves wine by the glass.  The walls are adorned with pictures of times past around the winery and of the founders.  Old winemaking equipment greets you just as you descend the stairs.  It’s a fantastic place to spend a few hours on a weekend, especially since it’s open noon to 4:30 every weekend and features live music for free.

Next I was off to Clover Hill, probably one of the better known wineries in the Lehigh Valley.  I had never been here, as I approached I saw just how huge their shop and winemaking area is.  Along the hills are rows and rows of vines that would’ve provided a nice setting for sitting on the outdoor patio if it hadn’t been cold and nasty out.  Inside the tasting room was absolutely mobbed with no room to be had around the tasting areas.  I decided to jump in line for the food and wine pairing.

Breakaway Farms meat and cheeses were the food vendors for this event.  Clover Hill was pairing their Viognoles with Breakaway’s sweetened beef and I believe their Cayuga White with a gouda.  I also had a taste of Breakaway’s beef jerky and sharp cheddar, both of which were delicious.  Afterwards I took my tasting glass and headed towards the tasting table.  It was difficult to get a spot and difficult to get waited on.  I think they were a bit understaffed, as the pourers were also trying to fill orders and ring up customers while fielding questions and wine requests.  I inquired to see if they were pouring any of their Generations series, which they weren’t.  I was also informed that their Generations sparkling Pinot Noir (which I hadn’t seen before) was not in stock and neither was their Merlot.  The associate told me that it may be a long time before the sparkling Pinot Noir is back in stock and the Generations Merlot should be back around before Christmas.

Again, since I tried a decent amount of their wines at other events and through personal purchases I decided to go with just a few of the dry reds since it was so crowded.  Besides the two whites I had already tried during the food pairing, I tried the 2008 Chambourcin, the 2007 Pinot Noir, the 2006 Sangiovese, and the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon.  All of them were tasty, however the Pinot Noir seemed too oaky to me.  I enjoyed the Sangiovese the most.  Even though their tasting notes indicate it’s a medium body wine, I found it to be a fairly full bodied wine for Pennsylvania.  Their tasting room is massive and their selection of wine items just a large.  From decanters and funny t-shirts to steel vine wineracks and cute wine related gifts, if you’re looking for something for a wine lover this is most certainly the place to find it.

All-in-all it was a very decent way to spend a few hours, especially since Vynecrest and Clover Hill are literally a mile away from each other.  In the future I would hope that they have the event for a longer time period, have more staff on hand, and/or hold it in a larger area so the crowds aren’t so terrible.  I’ll be looking forward to this again next year and the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail’s Chambourcin Weekend event coming up in October.

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