When you think of Pennsylvania, a Northeastern State famous for cold weather, chocolate, cheesesteaks & Independence, you probably don’t think of wine. However, you may be surprised to learn that there are over one hundred wineries throughout The Keystone State ranging from boutique wine cellars to full scale vineyards. From sweet to dry and everything in between, Pennsylvania Wineries have you covered! Now, let’s take some time to un-WINE-d, and learn a bit more about Pennsylvania Wine.
Travel with Janine & Bridget as we take you on a mini-tour of Central Pennsylvania Wine Country.
Pennsylvania is not trying to compete with California by any means, but in case you didn’t know – wineries in many forms can be found across the United States. From New York (the “black dirt” region!) and Virginia to The Carolinas (they grow their wine in old tobacco fields!) and even Colorado, the West Coast doesn’t have a lock on good wine. Good wine is a product of good winemaking which is an art, and in our experience some of the best wines come from places you’d never expect (like Pennsylvania!). We would have to agree that it’s all relative when it comes to “good wine” because we all have different palates and standards when it comes to our favorite grape juice. However, we’d like to take this opportunity to educate you on a place you may not have associated with wine.
Pennsylvania Wine Country is an experience of its own where the wineries are staffed with some of the most down-to-earth (and least pretentious) staff we’ve ever met. Some of our favorite wineries are scattered across regions throughout the State including the shores of Lake Erie, the State capital of Harrisburg, the sweet spot of Hershey, the first capital of York, and the mountains of the Lehigh Valley.
One fall weekend, Janine and her fabulous friend Bridget (www.theletteredclassroom.com) participated in the Cornucopia Wine Quest. This annual fall event is held in the Harrisburg Hershey Wine Region during the month of October, and although the number of participating wineries varies from year to year, The Quest typically includes admission to 12 wineries located within the Harrisburg/Hershey area.
When?: Three weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) between the hours of 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. For reference, the 2016 event took place from October 15th through the 30th.
How Much?: The cost of this signature event is $15.00 per person or $25.00 per couple.
Important to Know: Since the Harrisburg Hershey Wine Trail spans over 60 miles, make sure to travel smart and safe and always have a designated driver.
What’s Included?: The price includes an exclusive tasting experience at each winery (many of the wineries pair their tasting with delicious seasonal goodies like caramel apples and chocolate), a Harrisburg Hershey Wine Trail souvenir glass, and a 10% discount on all wine purchases. Included in the price of admission are fun seasonally-inspired activities such as hay rides, pumpkin painting, bobbing for apples, cork tosses, and if you visit on Halloween Weekend (as we prefer to do) you will find winery staff dressed in their Halloween-best.
Travel Note: For the best price on The Wine Quest, check Groupon for great discounts. We have taken advantage of their 2 for 1 offer!
The best part of the Wine Quest is that your Harrisburg Hershey wine experience is all your own. You have the opportunity to wine-hop at your leisure. There is no itinerary to be met or schedule you must follow, and you don’t need to worry that you’ll miss out on something if you spend too long in one spot. You can see and do as much or as little as you’d like, and you can start in the middle and then go wherever your souvenir glass (or your new group of friends) takes you!
Travel Note: This event is very popular with Bachelorette & Bachelor Parties. If you’re looking for a fun pre-wedding celebration, we highly recommend the Cornucopia Wine Quest.
Spring Gate Vineyard – 5790 Devonshire Road, Harrisburg, PA 17112
Janine and Bridget began their fall Quest (to Make America GRAPE again) at Spring Gate Vineyard located in Harrisburg, PA. Since this was Bridget’s first trip to a winery (of any kind ever!) Janine wanted to make sure she had a GRAPE time. After previously visiting Spring Gate Vineyard and learning about all of its fantastic offerings (and it’s love of all things Penn State!), Janine knew this was where they needed to begin their Quest.
Spring Gate Vineyard is a very popular spot with events taking place regularly throughout The Vineyard. From Chili Cook-offs to food trucks, live music, happy hours, and food festivals – Spring Gate has it all. This Vineyard offers something for everyone.
At Spring Gate, it’s not just about the wine. The property is also home to a Brewery, and they are famous for their expansive list of hard ciders. If you have the chance to visit Spring Gate Vineyard, we highly recommend you try the day’s seasonal Cider Tasting. We promise you will not be disappointed! However, be warned – at times we have visited The Vineyard, and parking has been a challenge. This is a testament to Spring Gate’s beautiful setting and of course all of their delicious beverages, but our advice would be to arrive early if you’re planning to visit Spring Gate during your tour of Hershey Harrisburg Wine Country.
Cassel Vineyards of Hershey – 80 Shetland Drive, Hummelstown, Pa 17036
For their next stop, Janine wanted to make sure Bridget had at least one true Vineyard experience on their Quest. For this, she knew Cassel Vineyards of Hershey was a “must visit.” This picturesque Vineyard set on the rolling hills of a 135 acre family run farm in Hummelstown, PA is truly unique in both its wines and its beauty.
On any given weekend at Cassel Vineyards of Hershey you may find everything from a petting zoo, hay rides, food trucks, live music, or join in on one of their fantastically-fun grape harvest events which are completely open to the public (check out their Facebook Page for more event details).
Cassel’s events and surroundings are not the only thing that sets it apart from other wineries in the Keystone State. Unlike many Pennsylvania wineries, over 80% of the grapes used in their winemaking are grown at Cassel Vineyards. Encircled by the meadows of Cassel Brookside Stables which is home to the family’s roaming thoroughbred horses, The Vineyard itself is just around five acres which is home to six varieties of Estate Grapes. Their love of horses is also displayed in the names of their popular Estate Wines like our favorite, Winner’s Circle Red.
At Cassel Vineyards of Hershey, guests truly enjoy a first class vineyard experience. The Vineyard is home to a welcoming Wine Shop and Tasting Room where their amazing staff make you feel like you are part of the Cassel family. Each time we’ve visited Cassel Vineyards of Hershey, the staff have gone out of their way to educate us on their wines as well as their wine making process. Kudos to Cassel for exceeding all of our expectations on each and every visit by making their tastings not just about drinking great wine but about giving their visitors a wine-ducation as well!
Travel Note: If you find yourself at “the sweetest place on earth,” a.k.a Hersheypark – Cassel Vineyards of Hershey is only a few miles away. Take a detour from the rides and sweets of Hershey to enjoy some grape therapy at one of our favorite Pennsylvania Vineyards. Trust us, it’s the perfect place to un-wined!
Just beyond the Tasting Room lies a fabulous outdoor patio overlooking the nearby Vineyard which is the perfect spot to imbibe in one of Cassel’s high quality varietals and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of this country vineyard. If you’re lucky, during your visit you may come across one of the family’s many fabulous free roaming peacocks! Personally, we could spend a full day navigating the grounds and taking in the views of Cassel Vineyards of Hershey.
The Vineyard and Brewery at Hershey – 598 Schoolhouse Rd, Middletown, PA 17057
The Vineyard and Brewery at Hershey was the final stop on Janine & Bridget’s outstanding fall wine tour of Harrisburg & Hershey. Just like Spring Gate Vineyard, Hershey is another 2-for-1 since it is not only home to a six acre vineyard but also a great brewery as well!
The Vineyard and Brewery at Hershey is a much more intimate experience with its small scale operation where quality clearly takes precedence over quantity. Located in rural Londonderry Township Pennsylvania, the cozy Wine Shop and Tasting Room are the first thing visitors notice upon arrival as they are located on the first floor of a charming farm house situated on the property. On a busy day, it may be hard to find a spot at one of the two elegantly crafted bars inside the Vineyard’s modest Tasting Room, but we promise it’s worth it! We suggest you arrive early, grab a spot on the lawn or the patio, and stay for that day’s entertainment.
The Brewery is housed in a beautiful red Pennsylvania Dutch-style barn that overlooks the charming Hershey vineyard. Inside the barn, the first floor warehouse is the production laboratory for their wine and beer making. On the top floor you will find a large bar area ready to serve your every need and an event space with a large open floor plan. This is the perfect venue to throw a birthday party or a reunion, celebrate a special occasion, or just kick back with a cold one and catch a Penn State football game with fellow alumni and fans while the Brewery projects the game live for everyone to enjoy. It’s always great to see how many fans gather at the Brewery to show their support for our Nittany Lions, and we love that the Brewery offers this for their customers.
The Brewery’s most popular drink is surprisingly a hard cider – A Chocolate Peanut Butter Cider. Think what you will about this bizarre combination (believe me we felt the same way at first), but this cider is mouth-wateringly delicious!
The top floor of the barn is also home to a beautiful outdoor patio where (weather permitting) visitors can take in live music and the views. Local food trucks are also a regular at the Vineyard & Brewery at Hershey. From French fries to gourmet grilled cheese, you can nosh on just about anything.
Travel Note: During the summer months and into early fall, the vineyard’s lush lawn is open for picnicking during their many concerts, events, and bonfires.
Although the Vineyard and Brewery at Hershey is relatively new to the party, it is a great place where both beer and wine lovers can come together in a laid-back atmosphere and enjoy the expansive venue’s offerings throughout the year.
Travel Note: There is ample parking in The Vineyard & Brewery at Hershey’s oversize lot which you can easily access off School House Road.
Hopefully you’ve found yourself delightfully surprised by this post, and learned a bit more about a few of Pennsylvania’s many wineries. The next time you find yourself in Pennsylvania, we hope you will stop and smell the Rosé at one of the many unique wineries across this beautiful State, and we hope you give the Harrisburg Hershey Wine Trail a try – if you do we’d love to hear your thoughts!
Travel Note: Don’t wait for a special event to visit any of Pennsylvania’s wineries. Feel free to visit any and all wineries during their normal operating hours for a tasting and tour at your own pace. Follow the link below to learn more about Pennsylvania Wineries: http://www.pennsylvaniawine.com/
- Learn more about the Harrisburg Hershey Wine Region: http://www.hersheyharrisburgwinecountry.com/
- Learn more about the Cornucopia Wine Quest: http://www.hersheyharrisburgwinecountry.com/signature-events/fall-festival/
- Spring Gate Vineyard: www.springgatevineyard.com
- Cassel Vineyards of Hershey: www.casselvineyards.com
- The Vineyard & Brewery at Hershey: www.vineyardathershey.com
For more of the items we pack in our suitcase, from clothing to accessories and everything in between, please visit our Amazon Store!