Anywhere you are in Pennsylvania, you are less than an hour from a winery.
Most of us who live in the state might not realize just how fruitful the wine industry is in PA. Although California might reign supreme in most people’s minds, the Keystone State is actually 5th in the nation for wine production, producing more than 2 millions gallons of wine every year. And what’s even more surprising about the state’s wine history is that the first spark of the industry came right here in Philadelphia.
More than 330 years ago, William Penn planted a vineyard in what is now Fairmount Park in Philadelphia using Bordeaux vines that he brought with him from England. Although those vines didn’t exactly produce much, from that vineyard grew an industry now home to nearly 300 wineries and 14,000+ acres of vineyards in total.
Penn was on to something as well, because it just so happens that the Commonwealth is actually a prime location for wine. According to Pennsylvaniawine.com European grapes like the popular Pinot Noir and trendy Albariño are surprisingly at home in Pennsylvania’s climate. While similarities between Scranton and Spain might not immediately jump to mind, the hot summers and cold winters provide enough common “ground” for those European vines. Two other categories of grapes are equally well-suited for Pennsylvania’s terroir—the native grapes that took root here on their own and the hybrid grapes that were bred to thrive in this specific climate. When you combine those three categories, there’s a varietal for nearly every palate from sweet to dry to dessert to fortified, and that’s not even counting the blends.
PA wineries are also a driver of economic output in the state as well, drawing more than $476 million in tourism revenue on an average year (although COVID stats might look a bit different.) The ever-popular wine trails, which are designed to give rich and one-of-a-kind experiences for wine enthusiasts while featuring different growing conditions throughout the state, are a huge draw from that number.
The state’s wine culture is also a huge draw for the professionals as well. The PA Wine website also cites that Pennsylvania wines have collected praise – and the hardware to prove it – on local, national, and international stages and pages. Back at home, dozens of sommeliers gather each year to blind taste test and score more than 100 local wines during the annual Sommelier Judgment. The resulting Top 10 List (or sometimes 11) celebrates excellence in winemaking across the state and has included breakout stars such as Teroldego, Grüner Veltliner, and Cabernet Franc.
Being only 32nd in landmass throughout the entire country but boasting 14,000 acres of vineyards is a feat in itself, which also helps with the idea of being close to a winery in any part of the state. It also cements the idea of having a winery for all since these venues aren’t just tucked into a certain “wine region” or two – they are peppered across every region.
For more information on PA wineries, visit pennsylvaniawine.com