Over the past seven years, the number of Pennsylvania's wineries has nearly doubled, increasing from around 60 in 2000 to 111 in 2006. A number of Pennsylvania vintners have won top awards at the prestigious San Francisco and Los Angeles County Fair Competitions.
The Philadelphia countryside is ideally suited for winemaking. The temperate climate, paired with gently rolling hills and large bodies of water, makes for warmer soil that nurtures a long annual growing season. The soil itself is flecked with limestone and gravel - qualities that enhance the fertility of a wide range of grapes.
This means wine lovers can find many of their favorites in Pennsylvanias Delaware Valley, and while no one varietal has yet emerged as the regions signature, local winemakers point to the popularity and flavor of their Chardonnays, Pinot Grigios, Pinot Noirs and Cabernets.
The regions wineries have joined together to establish two wine trails in Philadelphias countryside: the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail which bridges six Chester County wineries, and the Bucks County Wine Trail that unites eight wineries just north of Philadelphia.
You can spend an afternoon or even a full weekend touring the trails. Theyre situated in the middle of historic and lush landscapes, near dozens of quaint bed-and-breakfast (B&Bs) establishments and close to attractions in Center City Philadelphia, New Hope, Washington Crossing and the Pennsylvania Dutch Country.
Let's take a look at the region's wineries:
- The wineries along the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail are geographically spread out, which allows a dedicated visitor to tour a large swath of this famous region.
Each of the six wineries/vineyards hosts regular tastings, concerts, crafts fairs, wine dinners and many other activities that provide a perfect excuse to spend an afternoon or evening sipping in the sunlight or under the stars.
- The Bucks County Wine Trail is thriving in its third full year of existence. It connects eight locally owned wineries, all within a few miles of one another. The wineries currently sponsor concurrent harvest festivals in October, "Nouveau" festivals in November and holiday festivals in December.