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The Ultimate Wine Tour Guide for Pennsylvania

wine tour guide

Ultimate Wine Tour Guide for Pennsylvania

Are you planning a Wine Tour to celebrate a birthday or maybe just a Night on the Town with your closest friends?  Whatever the reason, with more than 200 wineries in Pennsylvania to choose from, deciding between the Limo or the Party Bus is only the beginning. Someone needed to build out the ultimate wine tour guide and this blog is going to take a stab at it.  We are going to cover a lot of topics today.  Which wine trail will you choose?

So let’s begin with a review of the different Wine Trails in Pennsylvania that offer Wine Tours and some of the specific wineries that have earned the best reputations.   

Want to talk to a Wine Tour Guide expert who can help you arrange the perfect Limo, Party Bus, SUV or Sedan for your next tour? Call 610-222-6225 and ask to speak to somebody who specializes in Wine Tours and let us help you build out the ultimate Wine Tour for you. 

12 Pennsylvania Wine Trails

With Pennsylvania producing more than one million gallons of wine each year and now the 5th largest grape producer in the United States, Pennsylvania is a legitimate destination for anybody interested in touring wineries.

In fact, nobody living in Pennsylvania is more than an hour’s drive to one of the more than 200 wineries in the state.  Many of Pennsylvania’s wineries are family-owned and the self-guided Wine Trails allow visitors to wonder their way through local vineyards at their own pace. 

Let’s review the 12 Wine Trails in Pennsylvania.

  1. Montgomery County Wine Trail – Philadelphia and the Countryside

    Producing everything from sweet and traditional offerings to wines made from organic fruits and vegetables, Montgomery County Wine Trail’s three wineries supply satisfying experiences. The trail also intersects with the Bucks County Wine Trail, so wine lovers can easily add nine additional stops to their journey.

  2. Bucks County Wine Trail – Philadelphia and the Countryside

    Bucks County Wine Trail’s nine wineries are located just minutes apart in the Delaware Valley, where visitors can also see historic highlights like Washington Cross Historic Park and Pennsbury Manor, the estate of Pennsylvania founder William Penn.

  3. Lehigh Valley Wine Trail – Lehigh Valley

    Nine family-owned vineyards populate this wine trail in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania’s fastest-growing wine region. Sample award-wining wines made with Chambourcin, Lehigh Valley’s signature grape, such as rosé, semi-sweet, sweet, dry barrel aged, sparkling and port. 

  4. Berks County Wine Trail – Dutch Country Roads

    Featuring eight wineries, the picturesque countryside is the background for wine tasting in Berks County. From sparkling and sweet dessert wines to dry table wines, the county’s fertile soil produces a variety of styles.

  5. Brandywine Valley Wine Trail – Philadelphia and the Countryside

    A favorite of Philadelphians, the Brandywine Wine Trail in Chester County includes seven wineries located within a 50-mile radius of one another. Visit three to four wineries per day and budget in time for nearby sights such as Longwood Gardens, Brandywine River Museum, Brandywine Battlefield Park and Kennett Square (“The Mushroom Capital of the World”).

  6. Endless Mountains Wine Trail – Upstate PA

    The Endless Mountains supply a cooler climate for hybrid and common (vinifera) grape varieties to thrive, producing fragrant and fruity wines. Encompassing nine family-owned wineries, the Endless Mountains Wine Trail offers access to northwestern Pennsylvania attractions such as Steamtown National Historic Site, Marie Antoinette Lookout and the Endless Mountains.

  7. Hershey Harrisburg Wine Country – Dutch Country Roads

    Hershey Harrisburg Wine Country Trail has 15 wineries producing more than 250 handcrafted selections of white, red and blush wines. Take advantage of the trail’s close proximity to the attraction-rich cities of Hershey, Harrisburg and Lancaster.

  8. Lake Erie Wine Region – Pennsylvania’s Great Lakes Region  

    Lake Erie Wine Trail is approximately 50 miles long and runs along 30,000 acres of vineyards along Lake Erie in Pennsylvania and New York. Those with time constraints appreciate the closeness of the trail’s wineries, which produce everything from ice and fruit varieties to specialty wines like brandies and ports.

  9. Mason-Dixon Wine Trail – Dutch Country Roads

    Twenty-two wineries (and one distillery) dot the Mason-Dixon Wine Trail, which runs through the center of the state’s Dutch Country Roads region. The trail boasts a mix of established vineyards and emerging vintners, and many tasting rooms are located in rustic and historical properties. 

  10. Groundhog Wine Trail – Pennsylvania Wilds

    Beyond its super-adorable namesake, the Groundhog Wine Trail spans multiple counties and takes visitors to 15 wineries accented by the unique beauty of the Pennsylvania Wilds. Every year, the region hosts a Groundhog Day Wine Festival featuring a visit from Punxsutawney Phil himself. Find more Groundhog Day attractions >>

  11. Southwest Passage Wine Trail – Laurel Highlands

    Seven wineries peppered throughout the Pittsburgh suburbs and the scenic Laurel Highlands region make up the Southwest Passage Wine Trail. While you’re in the area, don’t miss destinations like Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater and the stunning Nemacolin Resort.

  12. Susquehanna Heartland Wine Trail – Valleys of the Susquehanna 

    Producers of award-winning riesling, chardonnay, cabernet franc and pinot noir, the 13 wineries along the Susquehanna Heartland Wine Trail enjoy a favorable climate for growing native and hybrid grapes, as well as more delicate grape varieties. The wineries also produce delicious fruit wines, including offerings infused with apple, blackberry, blueberry, cherry, elderberry, rhubarb and strawberry.

wine trail mapWith so many amazing Wine Trails, we thought we would provide some color around those trails located in and around the greater Philadelphia, PA area. 

Want to talk to a Wine Tour Guide expert who can help you arrange the perfect Limo, Party Bus, SUV or Sedan for your next tour? Call 610-222-6225 and ask to speak to somebody who specializes in Wine Tours and let us help you build out the ultimate Wine Tour for you. 

14 Tips for a Memorable Wine Tour

You have taken the time to plan a Wine Tour for yourself.  You want it to be memorable and these tips will make sure that when the day is over, you will have no regrets.  Here are 14 great tips for your next Wine Tour which are sure to help you make the day amazing.

  1. Get an empty box for wine. Any box or cooler will work when it comes to carrying wine. Trust us on this. You are going to start buying bottles of wine that will rattle around in your car unless you’ve brought a box. You’ll thank us for this advice when your box is full (and this might have an added benefit; see below).
  2. Hire a car. Chances are you will taste more wine than you expected to and those little tastes add up. Not only that, but if you’re not used to drinking wine early in the day (see below), it could catch up with you fast. Regardless of if you are going to one winery or 5 or more, you will have some driving ahead of you. A company like Kevin Smith Transportation Group will be happy to map out a tour of local wineries and of course, drive you so you can relax and enjoy the wine.
  3. Take the kids, but, if you do, find something for them to do. Just kidding about this one. We love kids but a day of touring wineries in Pennsylvania is best suited with the kids back home with the In-Laws or a babysitter.  Trust us on this one.  After that 4th glass of wine, you will appreciate the fact that the kids are home having their own fun. 
  4. Go early, especially on weekends. The thing that’s the most fun about a winery visit is chatting with the people behind the bar, who are often the owners or winemakers, especially at smaller wineries. They won’t have time to talk with you if it’s super busy.
  5. Focus on the smaller places. There is something comforting and unintimidating about the larger places with big parking lots, T-shirts for sale and lots of hired help. But to feel the passion of wine and winemaking, it’s important to seek out the smaller places where you can really spend some quality time with the people behind the bar.
  6. Be polite. Yes, this seems obvious, but we’ve heard countless stories about how rude people can be. In a smaller winery, you are likely to be in part of someone’s home and possibly talking to the owner. And you’re probably getting wine free, or for a small charge. Be nice and show them the respect they deserve.
  7. Try new, unfamiliar things. In many parts of the country, the grapes that grow best are native to Pennsylvania. Perhaps the winery makes a Chardonnay, but it’s not as good as its Pinot Noir. If you stick to grapes you know, you could miss out on the regional specialties. Be open about what you taste.  The worst thing that happens is you don’t like it and spit it out (the only time this is appropriate is at a winery!). 
  8. Have an answer to the question, “What kind of wine do you like?” Tasting-room personnel tend to ask this reflexively as an ice-breaker, but many people who aren’t totally comfortable with wine find it hard to answer on the spot. In any event, we’d be hesitant to answer it directly because we don’t want to try only the kinds of wines we already know we like. Even if you think you only like dry wines, you should try some that are sweet, and vice versa. Think about saying something like, “I enjoy all kinds of wines. Which would you start with?”
  9. Ask where the grapes were grown. Many wineries these days may grow grapes on their primary winery but may also own land somewhere else. You might be interested to learn about where and how the grapes were grown. 
  10. Ask questions. Don’t be shy. If you ask simple questions like “Does this look like it will be a good year?” or “What food goes best with this wine?”, the person behind the counter will appreciate your interest. Don’t try to show off with questions like, “Did this get any ML?” unless you really, really care about malolactic fermentation. There are no stupid questions so ask away.
  11. Remember that it’s a tasting room, not a bar. If you want to drink a big glass of wine, buy a bottle and have a picnic. And even if you are not driving, be very careful about how much you’re drinking. People who have had too much to drink ruin the tasting experience for everybody.
  12. Be careful of how much wine you buy. It’s a nice gesture to buy a bottle or two, but you shouldn’t feel pressured to. Still, we tend to get carried away at wineries and buy more bottles than we intended. You’ll be amazed how quickly those bottles add up. Many wineries can now ship to your house so don’t be afraid to ask how the process works.
  13. Keep wines out of the hot car. A car that’s sitting in the sun will cook your wines in no time flat. Find a way to avoid that. A cooler in the back of your Party Bus or Limo is the perfect solution. 
  14. Finally, keep this in mind: The wines you bought at the winery will not taste as good at home as they did at the winery. We’re sorry to end this list with a downer, but it’s true. When you’re there, surrounded by the wondrous sights and smells of a winery, with the winemaker across the bar, pouring wine in pristine condition that has never traveled, the wine tastes special. You simply can’t replicate those conditions at home. But this is exactly why you should go taste wine at a winery this week.

Want to talk to a Wine Tour Guide expert who can help you arrange the perfect Limo, Party Bus, SUV or Sedan for your next tour? Call 610-222-6225 and ask to speak to somebody who specializes in Wine Tours and let us help you build out the ultimate Wine Tour for you. 

Wine Tour Transportation Ideas

If you have gotten this far in the blog, then you realize that being escorted through one of Pennsylvania’s Wine Trails in a Kevin Smith Transportation Group Limo or Party Bus is the way to go.  So instead of pitching you the reasons why you deserve a Chauffeured vehicle, we’ll go into detail about the vehicle options you can choose from.

Stretch Limo’s

KSTG offers a variety of Stretch Limousine options for your Pennsylvania Wine Trails Tour.  While traveling from winery to winery, you can sit back and relax in style, enjoying leather bench seating, surround sound, custom LED lighting and a knowledgeable and trained Chauffeur.

In a Stretch Limo, you get to enjoy the Wine Tour all while receiving door to door service.  Your safety is our highest proprietary and you never have to get behind the wheel while enjoying everything that the Pennsylvania Wine Trails has to offer.

Party Bus’s

Kevin Smith Transportation Group knows that the ultimate party is a Party Bus.  In sizes than can handle groups up to 30 or more, a Pennsylvania Wine Trails Tour becomes something special when you factor in two custom bars, more than 200 LED lights and 4 televisions in the 26 passenger Party Bus.

Stocked with all the amenities you would need for a Wine Tour, let a KSTG Wine Tour Concierge help you select the perfect Party Bus for you and your group.

SUV’s

Maybe you are considering taking a tour of one of Pennsylvania’s Wine Trails with 2 or 3 other people?  If so, a luxury SUV from Kevin Smith Transportation Group might be your best option.  From Yukons to Suburbans to Infiniti QX80’s, the perfect SUV is a phone call away.

Want to talk to a Wine Tour Guide expert who can help you arrange the perfect Limo, Party Bus, SUV or Sedan for your next tour? Call 610-222-6225 and ask to speak to somebody who specializes in Wine Tours and let us help you build out the ultimate Wine Tour for you. 

87 Cool Wine Definitions

Before you visit one (or more!) of Pennsylvania’s more than 200 wineries, we need to sharpen your wine terminology so you can feel as smart as those fancy people who talk about wine on those fancy TV shows. 

With that in mind, here is a list of definitions (in alphabetical order) for you to review.  Don’t feel you need to memorize all of them.  In fact, memorize 3 and then randomly insert them into your wine tastings to look cool.

  1. Acidity — the liveliness and crispness in wine that activates our salivary glands
  2. Aeration — the deliberate addition of oxygen to round out and soften a wine
  3. Aging —holding wine in barrels, tanks, and bottles to advance them to a more desirable state
  4. Alcohol —ethanol (ethyl alcohol), the product of fermentation of sugars by yeast
  5. Anosmia —the loss of smell
  6. Appellation —a delineated wine producing region particular to France
  7. Aroma —the smell of wine, especially young wine (different than “bouquet”)
  8. Astringent —tasting term noting the harsh, bitter, and drying sensations in the mouth caused by high levels of tannin
  9. Balance — a term for when the elements of wine – acids, sugars, tannins, and alcohol – come together in a harmonious way
  10. Barrel —the oak container used for fermenting and aging wine
  11. Barrique  — a 225-litre oak barrel used originally for storing and aging wines, originating in Bordeaux
  12. Bitter —a taste sensation that is sensed on the back of the tongue and caused by tannins
  13. Blend —a wine made from more than one grape varietal
  14. Body —a tactile sensation describing the weight and fullness of wine in the mouth.  A wine can be light, medium, or full bodied.
  15. Bordeaux — the area in Southwest France considered one of the greatest wine-producing regions in the world
  16. Botrytis —a beneficial mold that pierces the skin of grapes and causes dehydration, resulting in natural grape juice exceptionally high in sugar.  Botrytis is largely responsible for the world’s finest dessert wines.  (see “noble rot”)
  17. Bouquet —a term that refers to the complex aromas in aged wines
  18. Breathing —exposing wine to oxygen to improve its flavors  (see “aeration”)
  19. Brettanomyce —a wine-spoiling yeast that produces barnyard, mousy, metallic, or bandaid-ish aromas
  20. Brilliant —a tasting note for wines that appear sparkling clear
  21. Brut —French term denoting dry champagnes or sparkling wines
  22. Bung —the plug used to seal a wine barrel
  23. Bung hole — the opening in a cask in which wine can be put in or taken out
  24. Chaptalization — adding sugar to wine before or during fermentation to increase alcohol levels.  Chaptalization is illegal in some parts of the world, and highly controlled in others.
  25. Citric acid —one of the three predominate acids in wine
  26. Claret —the name the English use when referring to the red wines of Bordeaux
  27. Class growth —see cru classe
  28. Closed —term describing underdeveloped and young wines whose flavors are not exhibiting well
  29. Complex —a wine exhibiting numerous odors, nuances, and flavors
  30. Cork taint — undesirable aromas and flavors in wine often associated with wet cardboard or moldy basements
  31. Corked —a term that denotes a wine that has suffered cork taint (not wine with cork particles floating about)
  32. Cru classé —a top-ranking vineyard designated in the Bordeaux Classification of 1855
  33. Crush —the English term for harvest
  34. Cuvée —in Champagne, a blended batch of wine
  35. Demi-sec —French term meaning “half-dry” used to describe a sweet sparkling wine
  36. Dry —a taste sensation often attributed to tannins and causing puckering sensations in the mouth; the opposite of sweet
  37. Earthy —an odor or flavor reminiscent of damp soil
  38. Enology —the science of wine and winemaking (see “oenology”)
  39. Fermentation —the conversion of grape sugars to alcohol by yeast
  40. Fining —the addition of egg whites or gelatin (among other things) to clear the wine of unwanted particles
  41. Finish  — the impression of textures and flavors lingering in the mouth after swallowing wine
  42. Flavors — odors perceived in the mouth
  43. Foxy —a term that describes the musty odor and flavor of wines made from vitis labrusca, a common North American varietal
  44. Fruity —a tasting term for wines that exhibit strong smells and flavors of fresh fruit
  45. Full-bodied —a wine high in alcohol and flavors, often described as “big”
  46. Herbaceous — a tasting term denoting odors and flavors of fresh herbs (e.g., basil, oregano, rosemary, etc.)
  47. Hot — a description for wine that is high in alcohol
  48. Lees — sediment consisting of dead yeast cells, grape pulp, seed, and other grape matter that accumulates during fermentation
  49. Leesy — a tasting term for the rich aromas and smells that results from wine resting on its lees
  50. Length — the amount of time that flavors persist in the mouth after swallowing wine; a lingering sensation
  51. Malic acid — one of the three predominate acids in grapes.  Tart-tasting malic acid occurs naturally in a number of fruits, including, apples, cherries, plums, and tomatoes.
  52. Malolactic fermentation — a secondary fermentation in which the tartness of malic acid in wine is changed into a smooth, lactic sensation.  Wines described as “buttery” or “creamy” have gone through “malo”.
  53. Mature — ready to drink
  54. Mouth-feel — how a wine feels on the palate; it can be rough, smooth, velvety, or furry
  55. Must — unfermented grape juice including seeds, skins, and stems
  56. Negociant — French word describing a wholesale merchant, blender, or shipper of wine
  57. Noble rot — the layman’s term for botrytis
  58. Nose — a tasting term describing the aromas and bouquets of a wine
  59. Oak/oaky — tasting term denoting smells and flavors of vanilla, baking spices, coconut, mocha or dill caused by barrel-aging
  60. Oenology — the science of wine and winemaking (see “enology”)
  61. Open — tasting term signifying a wine that is ready to drink
  62. Oxidation — wine exposed to air that has undergone a chemical change
  63. Phenolic compounds — natural compounds present in grape skins and seeds
  64. Phylloxera — a microscopic insect that kills grape vines by attacking their roots
  65. Plonk — British slang for inexpensive wine; also used to describe very low-quality wines
  66. Rough — the tactile “coarse” sensation one experiences with very astringent wines
  67. Sec— French word for “dry”
  68. Sommelier— A wine butler; also used to denote a certified wine professional. For a full overview  go here: sommelier courses.
  69. Spicy —a tasting term used for odors and flavors reminiscent of black pepper, bay leaf, curry powder, baking spices, oregano, rosemary, thyme, saffron or paprika found in certain wines
  70. Structure— an ambiguous tasting term that implies harmony of fruit, alcohol, acidity, and tannins
  71. Sweet— wines with perceptible sugar contents on the nose and in the mouth
  72. Tannins — the phenolic compounds in wines that leave a bitter, dry, and puckery feeling in the mouth
  73. Tartaric acid— the principal acid in grapes, tartaric acid promotes flavor and aging in wine
  74. Terroir— French for geographical characteristics unique to a given vineyard
  75. Texture — a tasting term describing how wine feels on the palate
  76. Typicity — a tasting term that describes how well a wine expresses the characteristics inherent to the variety of grape
  77. Ullage— the empty space left in bottles and barrels as a wine evaporates
  78. Vegetal — tasting term describing characteristics of fresh or cooked vegetables detected on the nose and in the flavors of the wine.  Bell peppers, grass, and asparagus are common “vegetal” descriptors.
  79. Vinification — the process of making wine
  80. Vinology — the scientific study of wines and winemaking. Also, the website for the Wine School of Philadelphia.
  81. Vitis vinifera— the species of wine that comprises over 99% of the world’s wine
  82. Vintage — the year a wine is bottled.  Also, the yield of wine from a vineyard during a single season.
  83. Weight — similar to “body”, the sensation when a wine feels thick or rich on the palate
  84. Wine — fermented juice from grapes
  85. Yeast — a microorganism endemic to vineyards and produced commercially that converts grape sugars into alcohol
  86. Yield — the productivity of a vineyard
  87. Young — an immature wine that is usually bottled and sold within a year of its vintage.  Wines meant to be drunk “young” are noted for their fresh and crisp flavors.