Exploring Pa.’s wine country
With three friends from high school visiting this weekend, the Hershey Harrisburg Wine Country’s ValenWine’s Weekend came at a perfect time. What better way to spend the day than sampling local beverages?
We kicked off our day at the Vineyard at Hershey around 1 p.m. The place was totally jammed. Luckily, things were moving smoothly at the winery, and we had no wait. We sampled two wines, along with some delicious chocolate truffles and almond pizzelles. We were allotted three tastings in the main room after our food pairings. I’ve been to the Vineyard at least a dozen times, but I surprised myself from swaying from my usual super sweet wines and trying the Cocoa di Vezzetti (Chocolate Port), which was delicious. The mix of chocolate and red wine was perfect.
Trying to stay ahead of the party limo that appeared to be on the same route as us, we quickly headed over to The Vineyard at Grandview. This was my first visit here, and I was thoroughly impressed with the place. The landscape was gorgeous, and the tasting room was warm and inviting. We all noted that if we didn’t have more wineries on our itinerary, we definitely would have stayed and enjoyed a glass of wine.
For the sampling, we each tried the Ruby Red, Sapphire White and Pop Umble’s Black Cherry Wine. Each wine was paired with its own chocolate as well. My favorite was definitely the chunk of peanut butter chocolate with sip of Ruby Red. We were allowed to try other wines as well, so I sampled the Sun-Kissed and Blackberry wines. However, my favorite was still the Ruby Red with the chocolate, but the chocolate may have me a little biased.
For our final winery, we stopped by Lancaster’s Tamanend Winery. Don’t be fooled by the exterior of this winery. The brick building looked more like an office and not so much a winery. However, we were all pleasantly surprised by their wines. They had really interesting flavors, like lime margarita! I tried that along with their Sweet Red, Honeysuckle, Shooting Star, Patriot and Pumpkin Spice. In addition to the wines, they also offered delicious fudge and brownies (including gluten-free ones). The fudge was melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
As for the wines, I really liked the Lime Margarita. It was so strange to me how identical it tasted to an actual margarita (duh, I know, but still!). According to their website, this is how it’s made: “Made with fermented Agave, the stuff that makes tequila, but this is NOT distilled it is cool fermented and then flavored with all the ingredients of tequila made Margaritas.” I thoroughly regret not purchasing a bottle. I really enjoyed it.
Since we were so close by, we decided to stop at the Spring House Brewery Taproom to sample some beers and split some appetizers. Spring House is the creator of my favorite beer, the Cosmic Monster (seriously, it tastes like Swedish fish), but sadly it is out-of-season.
Regardless, we split a sampler of each of their brews on tap. Between the five of us, we split 12 samples. Although most of the beers were too heavy for my liking (I know, I know), my favorites to sample were the Lil’ Gruesome Peanut Butter and Jelly Stout and the Satan’s Bake Sale Mint Chocolate Chip Stout. I can’t drink a full stout, but these samples were the perfect size for my weak palate. Also, I proclaimed their mozzarella sticks the best I have ever eaten. We had to split the last one into thirds because we were all eyeing it.
Before heading home, we quickly swung into The Fridge, so that the craft beer lovers could pick up some random hard-to-find brews and those who sampled their pizza declared it “amazing.”
ValenWine is still going on this weekend, and for $10 a person or $15 a couple, it’s a bargain. It’s fun to explore all the local wineries, and see new parts of Central PA. Always remember to have a designated driver, they don’t have to pay for a ticket for this event.