Step into these Allegheny County wineries for summer refreshment
As you plan fun activities for the rest of the summer, consider including Pennsylvania winery visits. Over 200 commercial wineries spread out across the Commonwealth, and the Pennsylvania Wine Association’s website ( pennsylvaniawine.com ) makes it easy to create handy itineraries.
All the wineries offer full ranges of dry, off-dry and sweet wines to please every taste. So pack a picnic basket and hit the road on a bright, sunny afternoon. Try the following which represent just a small sample of possible visits in Allegheny County:
1 Arsenal Cider House and Wine Cellar (330 39th St., Pittsburgh 412-682-7699, arsenalciderhouse.com ): What began as an amateur obsession with hard cider making grew into a full-blown successful business for founders Michelle Larkin (president and head cider wench) and Bill Larkin (vice president and cellar dweller). The couple serves award-winning hard ciders (made from apples), meads (made from honey) and wines (made from fruit and grapes) on tap and in take-away growlers at three locations—the home base and garden in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood, the tap room at Soergel Orchards in Wexford and at the tap room at Trax Farm in Finleyville. Best-selling favorites include Picket’s Bone Dry Cider ($15 per growler refill), a tart and refreshing apple hard cider with 8.5 percent alcohol by volume, Negley’s Nector ($16 per growler refill), a fruity, vibrant wine with just a kiss of sweetness, and Colonel Symington’s Sour Cherry ($20 per growler refill), a tart, refreshing cherry wine with a little sweetness. New this summer, the Cider Slushy , blends peach wine with cream in a delightful cold concoction tasting like a delicious custard.
2 Pittsburgh Winery (2815 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh, 412-586-1000,
pittsburghwinery.com ) features award-winning wines made primarily from California fruit. The popular, easy-drinking White Blend ($18) blends dry Riesling, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc in a soft, off-dry finish. The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon ($34), aged in American oak barrels for 18 months, offers dark, concentrated fruit and a touch of spiciness. On July 28 and 29, the winery will present Vine Rewind , a festive block party with food, wine and a concert marathon showcasing southwestern talent including The Clarks and more than 20 other bands. See vinerewind
pgh.com for details.
3 R Wine Cellar (2014 Smallman St., Pittsburgh 412-562-9463, Rwinecellar.com ) is located in the heart of Pittsburgh’s popular Strip District. This family-owned “urban winery” uses grape juices from California,
Pennsylvania and South America to handcraft distinctive, easy-drinking wines. The Fumé Blanc ($17.95) uses California sauvignon blanc for a tasty white wine with tropical fruit and freshness carrying through a soft, dry finish. The Carménère ($18.50) uses fruit from Chile for a rich, lively red with dark cherries and spicy aromas, fresh acidity and elegant tannins. Pair it with Italian capocollo and soppressata salami available from nearby Strip District vendors.
4 Kingview Mead (412-335-0070, kingviewmead.com ) head winemaker and founder Scott Neely will open a tasting room soon, but meanwhile he sells classic mead honey wines online and at various Pennsylvania Liquor Control shops in the South Hills, North Hills, Southside and Lawrenceville. Try the delicious SüB Sweet Mead (PLCB Code 2315; $11.99 for 375 ml. bottle), an intensely aromatic ambrosia with pronounced honey flavors. The intriguing Valor Viking Grog ($14.99) blends grape wine, juniper berry and cranberry mead in a refreshing, semi-sweet libation with fresh red fruit with only
8.5 percent alcohol by volume. Chill and serve at picnics.
5 Narcisi Winery
(4578 Gibsonia Road, Gibsonia 724-444-4744, www.narcisiwinery.com/wine-menu ) is located just north of Pittsburgh. The winery resembles a Tuscan country villa with plenty of outdoor space for relaxing picnics. Try the popular 2016 Noiret ($19.50), a full-bodied red with floral aromas and currant fruit balanced with fine tannins.
Dave DeSimone is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.