Read the original article from Pennlive.com by Sara Bozich on the opening of the HHWC's newest winery Spring Gate Vineyard on Devonshire Road in Harrisburg.
Spring Gate Vineyard comes to Hershey Harrisburg Wine Country: Out with Sara
Original article by Sara Bozich appeared on pennlive.com on April 10, 2014.
Not quite two weeks ago, Spring Gate Vineyard on Devonshire Road in Harrisburg opened its doors for the first time.
And while the tasting room and winery is the newest on the block -- and latest addition to Hershey Harrisburg Wine Country -- owner Marty Schoffstall has been making wine and cider for years.
In fact, chatting with Schoffstall last weekend, it seems cider may in fact be his true passion. I look forward to seeing what the vineyard continues to produce in that vein.
Like many of his colleagues in the wine country, Schoffstall is focused on Pennsylvania agriculture -- though he does draw apples from Maryland, when necessary, and grapes from New York as well as sister vineyard in Virginia. His goal is to use local produce as often as he can.
On the 60 acres of former farmland, Spring Gate is growing American- and French-hybrid grapes, as well as classic French varietals like Merlot and Cabernet Franc, Noiret and Vidal Blanc, too. The ultimate goal is to create a series of great Estate Wines (meaning the wines contain only grapes grown by the estate -- in this case, Spring Gate and North Gate Vineyards).
During my visit last Saturday, the Tasting Room, set inside a beautiful barn, was filled with visitors. A few brave souls even braved the wind to enjoy wine by the glass on the adjacent patio. Experienced tourists came packed with snacks. Chatter filled the room.
The Tasting Room itself is attractive but small, with only a handful of tables and a rustic bar built from a fallen black walnut tree. Small groups enjoyed samples of the seven varieties of wine, sparkling wine and cider. A back wall features wine for sale by the bottle, while a wine refrigerator was stocked with cheeses and meat available for purchase.
Spring Gate offers a series of what we'll call flagship wines, then offers ciders and sparkling wines "on tap," which vary week to week. On their website, you'll find the release dates for upcoming varietals and the sparkling wine and cider rotation schedule.
We were guided through a tasting of all current offerings -- for just $5 -- beginning with the Chardonnay. Dry and unoaked, this was quite good. I find people seem to be easily offended by chardonnay; I am not one of those people. This was neither buttery nor stinging.
Staff help guide tastings ($5) at Spring Gate Vineyard.
The Riesling came next, and while it was much too sweet for my tasting partner, I enjoyed the softness of this semi-sweet wine.
Spring Gate also offers an Apple Wine, which tasted light but fresh. I felt it was missing "something," but I couldn't put my finger on it. Then again, perhaps I'm too used to spiced mulled wines and was expecting something heavier.
The final white was the Susquehanna Sweet White. Made primarily from Niagara, this had that classic sugary nose. I'm not a fan of Niagara grapes whatsoever, but it didn't surprise me to learn that this is the winery's current top seller.
On our visit, the only red available was a Chambourcin, with easily detectable notes of cherry and spice. Trevor, our server, said he believes it pairs better with food than on its own, and on my next visit I'd sip this alongside salami and cheese.
We also sampled the Sparkling Wine du jour, which was a Sweet Muscat. It was sweeter than my preferred tastes, but the carbonation helps cut that a bit. I can see this being quite popular with those who enjoy sweet but light wines.
Two ciders are currently in rotation, a Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Cider and Sweet Sensation. The Sweet Sensation was featured during my visit, and it's made from a mixture of Pennsylvania and Maryland apples including York Imperial, McIntosh, Yellow Delicious and Granny Smith. The cider was fermented and aged in stainless steel for four months.
Ciders can be purchased by the glass or in a Spring Gate growler, only.
Schoffstall said there have been many requests for a sweet red, and so also on the list (but unavailable on my visit) is the Susquehanna Sweet Red.
I'd also like to try the Noiret, a full-bodied red with notes of green and black pepper, and the Seyval Blanc, a dry white due out this weekend.
You can find more "Upcoming Vintages" on the Spring Gate Vineyard website.
Wines are available by the glass ($4-6) and bottles ($14-19).
On your visit
Marked trails are available to explore the Vineyard's western grounds during public hours, and live music and festivals are planned to begin in mid-May, including participation in Hershey Harrisburg Wine Country's Sweet Sensations of May.
Private tours are available upon request, and the Vineyard and Farm Estate also can be booked for private venue events, including weddings.
SARA BOZICH: about.me/sarabozich Celebrate responsibly.