I’m unabashedly thrilled about the arrival of fall…pumpkin flavors and cooler temperatures are taking over and I couldn’t be happier. We kicked off the season with a perfect Sunday spent at the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail Harvest Weekend. Nine local wineries offered either food pairings, entertainment, or other extras to celebrate fall. Best of all, the only cost was the individual wineries’ tasting fee (and some were free!). We brought another couple along for the ride and visited four of the wineries on Sunday afternoon.
To Jay’s dismay (obviously he was driving), the first winery was located pretty far out in the countryside. The girl passengers, however, were quite pleased with the lovely drive amidst farms and cornfields. We arrived at Blue Mountain Winery and discovered a cute shop and tasting room inside and a vast deck overlooking a pond outside. The tasting fee was $5 for 5 tastings here. Plus, they offered 2 additional wine tastings with food pairings.
The first was a dry Riesling with goat cheese. To finish, we tried a dessert wine with dark chocolate. Since your $5 fee could be applied to a wine purchase, I picked up a bottle of blush wine that was fruity but not too sweet and will be perfect for visitors. Overall though, these wines were our least favorite and were the most expensive. Almost all of the red wines had a strong oak flavor (it reminded Jay of a bourbon aftertaste) which was not appealing to me and made them all taste pretty similar.
The directions to the next winery, Pinnacle Ridge, took us along more back roads (yay!) and we ended up at a quaint tasting room with an attached barn. We were first directed to the barn for a goat cheese topped slice of tomato paired with either a dry Riesling or Pinot Grigio. The tomato was the star of the show, especially with their addition of coarse salt and basil. Afterward, we quickly headed down to the warmer tasting room for our 6 tastings for $5. Our favorite wines of the day were from this winery, so we picked up two bottles and were able to apply our $5 tasting fee to our purchases.
The next stop was Clover Hill winery, which only featured a local vegetable stand as it’s “extra” for the Harvest Weekend event. However, you could taste 5 wines for free! In addition, Clover Hill was celebrating its 30th anniversary by offering 30% off ALL wines. The only disappointment was that their strawberry wine and all of their bubbly wines were sold out and not available to taste. I was intrigued by two special wines, a spiced apple and a holiday blend, but they both didn’t live up to expectations. The holiday was so full of spices that it tasted like liquid potpourri…not exactly pleasant. We ended up leaving with two delicious dry reds instead.
The final winery was Vynecrest, just down the road from Clover Hill. By this point, our tastings were catching up with us (well, for the girls at least) and we were nearing closing time. We were rushed through our 6 (free!) tastings and ended up not liking anything enough to purchase (plus we had 5 bottles in the car, already). The “extra” at this stop was a food truck featuring sandwiches and sides. With turkey burgers awaiting at home, we passed on the food and began the drive home, happily full and sleepy…I made it about half an hour after dinner before taking a nap : ) It was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon and support local businesses. I’ll be keeping an eye out for more special events in the future!
P.S. As an unexpected bonus, I arrived at work on Monday morning and found these waiting in our department’s food cubicle: pumpkin brownies and pumpkin cookies! I have the best, pumpkin-loving coworkers!