Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sampling Pennsylvania Wines in Westmoreland County

An afternoon of wine tasting at two Pennsylvania wineries convinced me, there’s more delicious wine than just my typical Merlot and Riesling favorites.

Whenever I browse the shelves of wine in a store, I read the labels, compare the prices, and then select the same type of wine: Merlot or Riesling. Why? Because I know I will drink it and like each glassful. Except for the liquor store in Progresso, Mexico, I’ve not been given a store sample to try that might sway my buying decision. So when my cousin Becky and her husband Harvey suggested that we sample wines at a couple of Westmoreland County wineries, I eagerly agreed.

We started at Greendance – The Winery at Sand Hill, located on Deer Field Road in Mt. Pleasant. This winery is part of Sand Hill Berries a working farm known regionally for its red raspberry and black raspberry pies. No need to sample these, I bought one of each pie and a box of chocolate cookies filled with raspberries before we even made it to the wine tasting room. These would be our desert later in the evening.

Greendance offers a repertoire of traditional wines but specializes in fruit wines. My experience with fruit wines was limited to a good experience and a bad one. The good one was when I enjoyed a delicious plum wine at an expensive Samurai Japanese steak house. The bad one came from my childhood when I sneaked a taste of the overly sweet Mogen David wine my Dad often had on hand for the holidays. On this wine tasting excursion, I was skeptical that from the six samples allowed by Pennsylvania law, I’d discover a new love of fruit wines.

For first taste of wine at Greendance I asked for what might be closest to my typical Riesling. I sampled their German style semi-dry white labeled Traminette 2007. Delicious. Vidal Blanc 2007 was a described as a late harvest reserve. I liked this sweet, ice wine too. Then, I asked for Barbera 2007 because a plaque on the wall acclaimed it as award winning. It deserved the award; I liked this red and its full body of wild berry flavors. Becky urged me to try Country Cabernet. This one earned a big star by its name as one to consider buying. For samples numbers 5 and 6, I decided to try two from the Fruit & Dessert list. I liked the full flavor of the Wild Blueberry wine, but the Red Raspberry surprisingly became my favorite of all! It’s described as “a blend of seven raspberries” and “has a great nose, velvety texture and crisp finish.” I left Greendance with a bottle of Red Raspberry wine.

Our next stop was Stone Villa Wine Cellars in Acme. Before tasting any wines, we received a tour of the winery. We visited four rooms that housed the grape crusher, fermenting tanks, stacked wooden barrels, the bottling machine, and custom labels. At the tasting bar, our backs were to the scenic outdoors – a lake and patio area. In the summertime, I learned that people buy their wine for picnics and concerts staged outdoors. Though it was a beautiful, unseasonably warm January day only a lone duck waddled around the scenic outdoors. The patio parties would come in the spring.

At Stone Villa, I sampled five wines: 2007 Villa Sunrise tasted like a sweet mix of fruit and citrus, 2007 Vistonia was a good semi-dry Cabernet, 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2007 Pinocitro were tasty dry wines, but my favorite was the 2007 Riesling. I had come back to my typical favorite. I had to suppress the urge to buy the Riesling knowing that the FAA regulations would make it impossible to carry on my flight to Arizona two days later. I ignored Becky’s suggestion to just buy it and drink it before my trip. Once I get settled in the RV at a physical place again, shipping is an appealing option for both wineries.

January 3, 2009

Greendance Winery


306 Deerfield Road

Mt. Pleasant, PA 15666


Stone Villa Wine Cellars, Inc.

Intersection of Clay Pike & Alice Road

1085 Clay Pike Road

Acme, PA 15610


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