Wineries to visit in Westmoreland, Washington and Fayette counties
As you plan fun activities for the rest of the summer, consider including Pennsylvania winery visits. There are more than 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 offer just a small sample of the possible visits in Westmoreland, Washington and Fayette counties:
1 Greendance — The Winery at Sand Hill (306 Deerfield Road, Mt. Pleasant Township, 724-547-6500, greendancewinery.com ) is a family winery that grew out of the highly successful Sand Hill Berries farm started in 1982. The owners gradually realized they could make excellent fruit wines from their surplus berries. In 2007, they launched a commercial winery with both delicious fruit wines and French-American hybrid grape wines. Try the 2016 Greendance, Chambourcin ($15), a semi-sweet red with bright red fruit, spicy notes and a light earthy finish. And don’t miss trying the flagship Greendance, Red Raspberry Wine ($16), a heavenly ambrosia made from the blended juices of seven raspberry varieties grown right at Sand Hill Berries. Perfect for easy sipping on the porch on a lazy summer evening. Also a nice complement to blue cheeses and walnuts.
2 Greenhouse Winery (2155 Gracin Lane, Irwin, 724-446-5000, greenhousewinery.com ) emphasizes fun events to pair with their popular wines. Visitors can enjoy reggae concerts, outdoor yoga classes, stand-up comedy shows, volleyball and pizza on the patio with wines such as the best-selling Greenhouse Winery, Hoe N’ the Garden ($14.50). The wine is a fruity, semi-sweet blend with fresh grapefruit flavors. Dry red wines include the popular Greenhouse Winery Red ($24.95), a blend of merlot and cabernet sauvignon.
3 Ripepi Winery and Vineyard (93 Van Voorhis Lane, Monongahela, 724-292-8351, ripepi wine.com ) makes wines from grapes grown at the 9-acre vineyard on the sloping hill next to the winery. The calling came naturally to owner Rich Ripepi who grew up with his grandfather, father and uncles all making wine each fall. Today, the winery hosts fun happy hours throughout the summer. Try the Ripepi Winery and Vineyard, Chancellor ($17.99), a spicy red with juicy berry flavors, fresh acidity and a soft, fruity finish. Aged in Hungarian oak barrels. Also try the Ripepi Winery and Vineyard, Steuben ($15.99), a delicious, refreshing red with strawberry and mild “grapey” flavors balanced with an unabashed kiss of sweetness. Chill and enjoy.
4 Christian W. Klay Winery (42 Fayette Spring Road, Chalk Hill, 724-439-3424, cwklaywinery.com ) lies just off the historic National Road (U.S. Route 40) south of Uniontown, not far from the famed Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Fallingwater house. In the 1990s, the winery founders, Sharon and John Klay, lovingly restored a picturesque 19th-century barn as the base of operations, and today it is available for visits, parties and special events. Try the Christian W. Klay Winery, Blanc de Lafayette ($18), a crisp white with grapefruit and peach flavors.
Dave DeSimone is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.