Pennsylvanians’ Top Wine Purchases in 2015 – and Recommendations on What to Try in 2016

PA-made wines are gaining national recognition – and stack up nicely against the top sellers in Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores

Wine industry will celebrate recent “growth” during the 100th Farm Show, Jan. 9-16

HARRISBURG, Pa (Jan. 8, 2016) – Pennsylvanians like their chardonnay. A lot. The dry white wine occupied three of the top 10 slots on a list of the top-selling wines through Fine Wines & Good Spirits, accounting for nearly 1.3 million bottles – and about $18 million in sales – across just three brands alone. Other top sellers included several pinot grigio wines and a muscat, and all but one were lighter wines, according to sales rankings provided by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, which oversees wine sales in the commonwealth.

And while the top sellers aren’t necessarily made in Pennsylvania, there are comparable local wines worth trying, according to the Pennsylvania Winery Association.

So as wine makers prepare for the 100th Farm Show kicking off tomorrow, the PWA has put together an alternative list of PA-made wines for consumers to try in the coming year. The Farm Show – a week-long celebration of the state’s rich agricultural past, present and future – runs through Jan. 16, and most of the wineries recommended will be offering free tastings daily at the PWA’s booth.

The list isn’t an “apples-to-apples comparison,” said Jennifer Eckinger of the PWA, but rather a list of recommendations of local wines that are complementary to what residents are already drinking (based on sales rankings).

“Think of it as ‘if you liked that, also try this,’ list” Eckinger explained. “The beauty of wine is how the exact same varietal can be interpreted in so many unique and interesting ways. Different winemakers, working with the same variety of grape but grown in different regions of the country – or in entirely different countries – will make very nuanced wines. They’re similar but at the same time, very different. A California chardonnay and a Pennsylvania chardonnay will never taste the same, and there’s room to appreciate them both.”

Advancements in enology and viticulture, along with years of hard work and investment, mean that many Pennsylvania wineries are producing world-class wines, according to David Falchek of the American Wine Society.

“Unlike other wine-producing states that focus on a narrow range of grapes, Pennsylvania offers a wonderful diversity. So while I can enjoy a Pennsylvania chardonnay, riesling or pinot grigio, there are also Pennsylvania seyval, cayuga and chambourcin too,” Falchek said. “Pennsylvania, thanks to Galen Glen Winery, has been a pioneer of gruner veltliner, with the first commercial vineyard of that grape in North America. And the state has become a leader in the production of chambourcin – and in fact, it’s the official wine grape of the Lehigh Valley.”

There are now more than 200 licensed wineries operating across Pennsylvania, up from 27 just three decades ago. And the industry in PA, already ranking near the top nationally in wine production and number of licensed wineries, is experiencing significant growth in consumer interest, visitation and sales.

“The list of top wines purchased in Pennsylvania shows something remarkable is going on. As of 2015, the wine drinking public is more diverse than ever before. People are gravitating towards lighter and fresher styles of wine, and that is great news for Pennsylvania wineries,” said Keith Wallace, an author and founder of the Wine School of Philadelphia. “Our local wineries are very adept at making these types of wines. If pinot grigio or unoaked chardonnay are your cup of tea, you should be seeking out local alternatives. You’ll be drinking better wine and supporting your local farmers. It’s a win-win situation.”

TOP WINES BOUGHT BY PENNSYLVANIANS – AND LOCAL ALTERNATIVES

The top 10 wines purchased in 2015 through Fine Wine & Good Spirits (based on dollar amount of total sales) along with Pennsylvania-made options to try:

1. Kendall Jackson VR Chardonnay (varietal/blend: chardonnay)
Also try: Penns Woods Winery 2014 Chardonnay Reserve or Happy Valley Vineyard & Winery 2013 Chardonnay

2. Cavit Pinot Grigio (pinot grigio)
Also try: Fero Vineyards 2014 Pinot Gris

3. Woodbridge Chardonnay (chardonnay)
Also try: Paradocx Vineyard Chardonnay or Cassel Vineyards of Hershey 2014 Chardonnay

4. Barefoot Moscato (muscat)
Also try: Penns Woods Winery 2015 Moscato or Armstrong Valley Winery 2014 Muscato

5. Barefoot Pinot Grigio (pinot grigio)
Also try: Mazza Vineyards Pinot Grigio

6. Franzia Sunset Blush (other pink varietal)
Also try: Chaddsford Winery NV Sunset Blush or Allegheny Cellars NV Bull Hill Blush

7. Franzia Chardonnay (chardonnay)
Also try: Crossing Vineyards & Winery 2014 Chardonnay or Courtyard Winery 2012 Chardonnay

8. Sutter Home White Zinfandel (zinfandel)
Also try: The Vineyard at Hershey 2014 Pink Catawba or Seven Mountains Wine Cellars 2014 Tickled Pink

9. Apothic Red (proprietary red blend)
Also try: Waltz Vineyards 2012 Baron Red or Nissley Vineyards 2014 Valley Red

10. Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio (pinot grigio)
Also try: Shade Mountain Winery 2013 Pinot Grigio

To learn more about PA wines, or to plan your visit to one of the 200-plus wineries along Pennsylvania’s 14 wine trails, go to PennsylvaniaWine.com. For more information on the 100th Farm Show, including the schedule of wineries doing complimentary sampling, visit www.farmshow.state.pa.us.

ABOUT THE PENNSYLVANIA WINERY ASSOCIATION

The Pennsylvania Winery Association is a trade association representing more than 100 member wineries and an advocate on behalf of the state’s growing multibillion-dollar wine industry. With some of the most fertile grape-growing land on the East Coast, Pennsylvania ranks fifth nationally in the amount of grapes grown, seventh in wine production, and seventh in the number of licensed wineries. The climate and sheer size of the state also allow for dozens of varietals to be grown. There are wineries in every region, and many of them are family-owned and -operated, continuing a centuries-old tradition that began in 1683 when William Penn planted the first vineyard in Philadelphia. Today, Pennsylvania’s wineries host events year-round, and most sell their vintages directly through their own tasting rooms. Most are also part of 14 organized wine trails that weave across the state—in fact, visitors to Pennsylvania are always within an hour’s drive of a winery. To learn more about Pennsylvania wine or to plan your trip, visit PennsylvaniaWine.com.

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NOTE TO EDITORS:

1. Source: Sales rankings provided by the PLCB (rolling 52 weeks of sales through Dec. 3, 2015)

2. No. 6 on the top sellers list, the Franzia Sunset Blush, did not have an official UDA varietal classifcation. The PLCB compared it with similar products and online research, and determined that it could best be described as “other pink varietal”

3. The recommended Pennsylvania wine suggestions were selected by the Pennsylvania Winery Association using criteria such as past awards and history of the winemaker and winery

4. Most, if not all, of the Pennsylvania wines mentioned are readily available through Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores and/or online at FineWineandGoodSpirits.com. The wines are also available direct from the wineries and at wine festivals

5. Hi-res images are available for publication on the MVPR Press Cloud, http://vlahospr.egnyte.com (u: press p: Ready2Print)

FARM SHOW TASTING SCHEDULE:

The following wineries will be offering complimentary tastings at the PA Wines booth. All times are 9am until 9pm except for Sunday, Jan. 10, which is 11am until 9pm.

Saturday, Jan. 9 and Sunday, Jan. 10

1. Benigna’s Creek Vineyard & Winery
2. Mazza Vineyards
3. Mount Hope Estate Winery
4. Seven Mountains Wine Cellars
5. The Vineyard at Hershey
6. The Winery at Wilcox
7. University Wine Company
8. West Hanover Winery

Monday, Jan. 11 and Tuesday, Jan. 12

1. Allegheny Cellars
2. Armstrong Valley Winery
3. Bee Kind Winery
4. Black Walnut Winery
5. Brookmere Winery & Vineyard
6. Happy Valley Vineyard & Winery
7. Presque Isle Wine Cellars
8. Tolino Vineyards

Wednesday, Jan. 13 and Thursday, Jan. 14

1. Arundel Cellars
2. Courtyard Wineries
3. Fero Vineyards
4. Glades Pike Winery
5. Long Trout Winery
6. Moon Dancer Winery
7. Olivero’s Vineyard
8. Paradocx Vineyards

Friday, Jan. 15 and Saturday, Jan. 16

1. Buddy Boy Winery
2. Cassel Vineyards
3. Christian W. Klay Winery
4. Flickerwood Wine Cellars
5. Naylor Wine Cellars
6. Nissley Vineyards
7. Shade Mountain Winery
8. Starr Hill Vineyard & Winery