Drinking Pennsylvania

June 30, 2010

Drinking Pennsylvania
Living in Seattle and working in the wine industry here for the past five years, I am inundated with bottles from Washington (duh), Oregon, and California. My domestic wine knowledge and judgment has definitely taken on a myopic West Coast bias. So when I got the invite from some friends to try wines from Pennsylvania, I was beyond intrigued.

The wines were from Chaddsford Winery. It's west of Philadelphia and north of Wilmington, Delaware. The first wine was an unoaked Chardonnay, dubbed with the "Naked" adjective that has more sizzle than "unoaked." I would have liked it to be a bit drier and have a little more zip. But I could see guzzling a well-chilled bottle between bites of highly-seasoned fried chicken (with a fennel and apple slaw on the side) out on somebody's deck/patio/lawn.

The Pinot Noir did show the true character of the grape, and I believe most wine dorks would readily identify it as such in a blind tasting. Yet I thought it was a bit of of balance, with alcohol too predominate when you smelled it and after you took a sip. Decanting may have been in order: Sometimes when you let a wine get some air, characteristics that seem overwhelming at first tend to calm down and integrate. Or they may not have. Unfortunately, and possibly unfairly, four words were uttered that changed the course of the evening: "Let's drink that Port!"

Do I have some quibbles about both these wines? Absolutely. But I want to reiterate that as a sometimes jaded wine buyer, I can't recall being more enthusiastic and curious about tasting wines in a long time. Chaddsford's first release was in 1983; how many wineries in my home state of Washington can beat that? Wow! I'm ready to seek out more from Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, Texas, Michigan, and every other state out there making unique and interesting wines.

So what other domestic wines am I missing out on while I reside in my ivory tower in Seattle?

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Jameson Fink is a wine buyer at a bustling grocery store in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. He moved to Seattle from Chicago (where he dabbled in the restaurant and wine industries) five years ago to pursue a full-time career in wine. He’d rather be drinking Champagne and eating popcorn right now.



Lindsay's picture

Maryland has some great wines as well. Boordy Vineyards, just outside of Baltimore, makes a great SVC (Seyval, Vidal, Chard mix), among others. If you are ever in the Baltimore area in May, check out Wine in the Woods (in Columbia, MD) where you can sample wines from all over Maryland in a woodsy setting.

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Barnaby Dorfman's picture

Great post, I've shared the same biases, will have to try some of these. Thanks!

Jameson's picture

Lindsay, thanks for the tips. And Barnaby, thanks for the kudos!

Maria Boyer's picture

We enjoy Chaddsford and Nissley here in PA, but one of my personal favorites is Wisconsin's Wollersheim Winery (http://www.wollersheim.com/). Toured it years ago; fun tasting, and a GORGEOUS setting in the summer. If you ever get the chance to try it, I'd be interested in your take. Thanks for the shout-out to the Keystone State!

Sarah's picture

Just a few miles from Chaddsford Winery is a much better vineyard. VaLa Vineyard to be exact. A bit higher priced, but the flavors are much more interesting and developed. The owners are a bit quirky, but its one of our favorites here in Pennsylvania.