The Philadelphian’s Guide to Pennsylvania Wine

Photography by Michael Persico

Aficionados of a certain vintage may turn up their noses at the notion of Pennsylvania wine. But the state is emerging as a vineyard hotbed in recent years. Here’s everything you need to know about what to drink, where to get it, who’s making it, and the region’s best wine getaways. — edited by Kristen Schott & Erica Moody


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Pennsylvania’s Wine Landscape | Meet the Makers | 5 Pennsylvania Wines to Try | Where to Drink Pennsylvania Wine in Philly | In Praise of Vermouth | Wine Weekend Getaways | Wine Tasting Tips | The Pennsylvania Wine Timeline

Drink Local: The Case for Pennsylvania Wine

Photograph by Michael Persico

When you think of Pennsylvania, wine likely doesn’t come to mind. Farmland, sure. But wine? And good wine, at that? Yet the beverage has been part of our landscape since at least the late 1600s, when William Penn planted what’s thought to be the first vineyard in Philadelphia, in Fairmount Park. In the centuries that followed, the state became known for sweet wines and those made with fruits other than grapes. Native grape varieties, some of which are sweeter, prevailed because they’re easier to grow here. Prohibition plus a lack of funding contributed to Pennsylvania’s stagnated standing on the national and international wine stages. While the state hasn’t entirely left that sweet status behind — in fact, many wineries thrive off well-made dessert wines today — there’s been a change in our reputation in the past two decades. Keep reading here.

Let’s get away from the idea of a state grape. Every sub-region of Pennsylvania can find grapes that grow well — or multiple grapes that grow well.”

—Virginia Mitchell, grant administrator of the Pennsylvania Winery Association and winemaker at Galer Estate Vineyard & Winery

Fine Terroir

Pennsylvania’s vast wine landscape ranges from the southwest corner to the northeast corner and everywhere in between. Within those regions are five American Viticultural Areas, or federally designated wine grape-growing regions. Not every region or winery has an AVA; groups must apply for the designation and prove their land has specific characteristics that differentiate it and, as a result, their wine. Here’s a look at three of the most prominent.

The number of wine trails in the state. These include the Brandywine Valley Trail, where you’ll find destinations like Galer Estate Vineyard & Winery in Kennett Square, a boutique winery specializing in fruit-forward chardonnay (oaked, unoaked and a sparkling), dry rosé and cabernet franc.

Meet the Makers

Photography by Michael Persico. Photograph of Mural City Cellars by Neal Santos.

New owners and next-generation winemakers and growers are changing the landscape of Pennsylvania wine. Many are educated and trained in the industry, have spent time studying in different areas of the world, and are advancing what their families started. Here are four to have on your radar (from left):

5 Local Wines to Try When You’re Craving a Glass

pennsylvania wine galen glen

Photograph by Michael Persico

There’s a Pennsylvania wine for every taste. Trade something from out-of-state — or country — for these local picks. Keep reading here.

*Statistics from the Pennsylvania Winery Association and the PA Wine Marketing & Research Program Board’s 2018-’19 research, released in 2020

PA’s rank in the nation for wine production. We produce about two million gallons per year, or 10 million bottles.

Where to Drink Pennsylvania Wine in Philly

Sally / Photograph by Ted Nghiem

These Philadelphia restaurants, bars and bottle shops ensure you don’t have to leave the city for a local drink. Keep reading here.

Folks who flock to visit the state’s wineries annually, generating $476.5 million in tourism revenue
via tours, tastings, memberships, and all those bottles you’re buying.

5 Wine Weekend Getaways in Pennsylvania

Take a weekend wine trip to Nemacolin’s expansive property / Photograph by Jordan Millington

Being the designated driver while your partner gets wine-drunk isn’t the most appealing weekend activity. Fortunately, there’s a way to solve that familiar dilemma — by booking a weekend wine getaway. Whether they’re close to celebrated vineyards or wine destinations all on their own, these hotels across the state will ensure that all in your party can imbibe as much as they want (within reason, of course). Think rest, recreation … and rosé. Keep reading here.

In Praise of Vermouth

Get in the spirit close to home.  

Bloomsday’s pandemic vermouth project is only getting bigger. / Photograph by Tim Kweeder and Zach Morris

The aromatized and fortified wine that Americans know best as a mix-in for cocktails like a manhattan or martini is getting a Pennsylvania twist from local businesses. Look for Revolutionary vermouth, a collab between Montgomery County’s Stone & Key Cellars and Philadelphia Distilling in Fishtown, made with French colombard grapes and unaged brandy. The taste falls somewhere between a classic dry vermouth and a sweet blanc. For something closer to a traditional sweet vermouth, opt for Plenum, a cherry-and-apple-based vermouth made by Ploughman, the cidery arm of Adams County’s Three Springs Fruit Farm. Coming in 2023, the team behind Dumpster Juice vermouth, a pandemic project at Bloomsday, will open Fell to Earth, an urban “vermouthery” that will surely become the hottest cool beverage spot in the city. — Maddy Sweitzer-Lammé

Wine Tasting Tips From a Philly Expert

Sniff, swirl and sip like a pro. / Illustration by Kyle Hilton

The nitty-gritty mechanics behind wine tasting often feel … snooty. But there are reasons for it all. Good King Tavern and Le Caveau co-owner Chloe Grigri, who oversees both establishments’ wine programs, shares how to (quite literally) drink wine — and have fun doing it, too. Keep reading here.

The Pennsylvania Wine Timeline

It all started with bordeaux. 


Published as “Vines of the Times” in the October 2022 issue of Philadelphia magazine.