Something about fall makes us want to drink all the wine! Although, let’s be real, we love drinking wine any time of year. Here are 11 wineries we’re adding to our fall bucket list…some close to the city, and some perfect for a quick weekend getaway.
Johnson Estate Winery
Johnson Estate Winery is the oldest estate winery in New York State, and it has a Century Farm designation from the NYS Agricultural Society. It’s now owned by the third generation of Johnsons who maintain the highest standards for their wine, while balancing the heritage of the farm and historic buildings. They grow 13 varieties of grapes on their 110 acres of vineyards – which they use to create their portfolio of 41 red, white, and rose wines. They’ve won more awards than we can list on their mix of “straight” varietal wines and blended wines. Although they can’t host their traditional vineyard walks and winemakers dinners, you can visit them Sunday mornings for “Grape Walks” – where they’ll allow socially distanced family groups to enjoy a self-guided walk in the vineyards to sample and fill wooden baskets with your favorite grapes!
Want to pretend you’re vacationing in Tuscany without having to board a plane? Head to Gervasi Vineyard in Ohio – only 99.9 miles away from Pittsburgh according to Google Maps! You’ll enjoy their 55-acre estate that features their own wines, delectable cuisine, and breathtaking views…while properly distanced from your neighbors. When we say “delectable cuisine” we aren’t just talking one restaurant, either. Gervasi is home to an Italian bistro, a wine bar and eatery, an outdoor patio overlooking the lake, plus a coffeehouse and cocktail lounge. You can also order your meal to go and enjoy it as a picnic on the grounds, or on the patio adjacent to your suite. Gervasi blends all of their favorite things – great food, wine, fun, and an appreciation for beautiful things – in one spot.
Maybe you’re looking for a quick evening visit closer to home? Check out Mazzotta Winery, just north of the city. They craft small batches of wine using old-world traditions Frank learned from his father, who learned from his father in Southern Italy. They offer indoor and outdoor seating, and they’re open seven days a week. Tastings are free, although you can book a private tasting for a more in-depth experience. Their wines have won many awards, although they are most well-known for their fruit wines. Even people who don’t typically like fruit wines love theirs because they’re made from the actual fruit juice, not flavorings. They recently began offering rotating fruit wine slushies – so check their social media or give them a call for the flavor of the day. And, bonus, they share a building with Adrian’s Pizza and Six Packs, so you can enjoy your favorite pizza while you sip on wine…or take both home! They also recently began shipping wine, so you can get your favorites no matter where you live.
Unicorn Wine Guild
Head to Unicorn Wine Guild for an other awesome weekend trip, just a couple hours from Pittsburgh. They feature 50 wines created at their own urban winery in Belpre, Ohio made from juices imported from around the world. Whether you like dry reds, sweet ice-style wines, or anything in between, they have something with a little magic in every sip for you! Because Belpre is a dry town, they are closed on Sundays…but they’re open Monday-Saturday from 11am-7pm (although double check for holiday hours). They have a light menu, teas, coffee, gifts, and special-order gift baskets in their comfortable, handicap accessible setting. Plus, if you’re looking to get into making your own wine or beer, they sell supplies and teach classes approximately every six weeks. We think that sounds like a perfect hobby to pick up this winter!
Mazza Vineyards and South Shore Wine Company
Mazza Vineyards, in the heart of Lake Erie Wine Country, was founded in 1972, and it’s one of the largest producing wineries in Pennsylvania. They’re home to an extensive wine list focusing on premium red varieties, many of which have won awards. About 5 minutes away, you’ll find their sister winery, South Shore Wine Company, which was reopened by the Mazza family in 2007. It’s home to a historic stone wine cavern built in the 1860s where you can now enjoy a line of wines unique to those at Mazza. South Shore is home to its own award-winning wines and an impressive variety of sparkling wines, including those created in the methode champanoise and the methode ancestral, or “pétillant naturel”. Both wineries are open year-round seven days a week, and we can’t wait to compare their different wines and atmospheres!
Hundley Cellars Winery
Another Ohio Winery we’re excited about is Hundley Cellars Winery. They feature premium artisan wines that you can only get there. Their customer service is world class because they are founded on love. And their beautiful grounds with a pond and vineyard don’t hurt, either! About 90% of their wines are produced from grapes grown on their estate or in their neighboring vineyard Grand River Valley Vineyards. You can also expect a yummy snack menu from gourmet cheeses to interesting flatbreads and delicious sandwiches. Stop by on a Saturday or Sunday for live entertainment from 2-5pm (weather permitting), or Wednesday-Friday from 3-6pm for happy hour.
Red Fern Inn and Winery
The Red Fern Inn is home to Rocky Point Winery, and if that isn’t a match made in heaven, we don’t know what is. The inn was originally an 1893 Marblehead Schoolhouse that now has 4 condominium-style hotel rooms on the second and third floors. Each room features a full kitchen and fireplace…perfect for sipping wine during those chilly fall evenings. They’re a short walk to the Marblehead Lighthouse – the oldest operating lighthouse on the Great Lakes. Which also means they’re just steps from Lake Erie. The Inn and Winery are open year-round, so plan a weekend trip now!
The motto at Nova Destinations is “a crafted experience” and they’ve certainly created that! Nova Destinations is actually four different destinations: Nova Cellars, Knockin Noggin, Fractured Grape, and Brew 32. They are the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and everyday life! And each of their destinations is different from each other. At Knockin Noggin, you’ll find a scientific-meets-rustic vibe with specialty hard ciders. Fractured Grape features a quirkly line of wines that all directly support local charities. We love that Nova Destinations is a family-owned business (um, they’re high school sweethearts and how adorable is that?) who want to give back to their local community. And did we mention they’ve created their own mini wine trail in Lawrence County that takes you to each of their locations? Make it a weekend trip to support local B&B’s, and visit all four!
Kavic Winery is a small family-run winery producing amazing wines using exclusively Pennsylvania-grown grapes and products – how cool is that? They started out like many local wineries, making wine at home like their Italian and Serbian relatives who made wine for friends during the Depression, before eventually opening their winery in Carnegie in 2009. Two of their most popular wines are their unoaked Chardonnay with teasingly light citrus and melon flavors, and their Lafayette, a full-bodied red wine with spicy berry-like notes. If making wine wasn’t enough, they planted their own vineyard – Deep Valley Vineyard in North Fayette township – in 2013, becoming one of the first commercial vineyards in Allegheny County. The vineyard is approximately 4 miles from the winery, and they just harvested their first crop of Marquette grapes, which are a cold-weather-tolerant grape similar to red zinfandel.
At Greenhouse Winery, they’re passionate about the better stuff in life…especially wine! They feature a large selection of over 30 wines, so we’re not quite sure how we’re going to sample them all. They also have a small rotating selection of local craft beers. You can host your private event with them, from showers to weddings, and anything in between. Plus check out their website for upcoming events like live music and comedy nights. If you can’t make it to their winery in Irwin, visit them at any of their three satellite locations in Westmoreland Mall, Monroeville Mall, or Jacktown Plaza. All of their locations are open daily, so you can stop by for your favorite wine any time.
Candywood Wine Cellar
Candywood Wine Cellar is in Vienna, Ohio and under an hour and a half drive from Pittsburgh. They are brand new – we’re talking about a month old! The space was previously a golf course, and it has a 100-year-old barn that we are drooling over. You can host your private events in their 4,000 square-foot loft, and they also offer catering for up to 200 people. But if you’re just looking to visit, you’ll find indoor and outdoor seating so you can enjoy some amazing food. The menu is innovative and creative, with specials that change daily. We can’t wait to try the Trio of Creme Brûlée with popcorn, amaretto, and chocolate. And don’t forget to stop by their gift shop! It features products made locally in Ohio, like candles, cutting boards, clothing, and more. Sounds like the perfect way to spend an afternoon to us!This content was provided by a local, independent contributor to Made in PGH, a lifestyle blog.