Pennsylvania’s wine industry is pioneering how wine is cultivated, produced, and even presented on the world stage, making each glass all the more decadent.
Out of the 300 to 400 businesses that are producing and selling wine and/or cider across Pennsylvania, a large number of them compete in regional, national, and even international competitions to show what makes their products special.
Wineries can enter any number of competitions per year, and many Pennsylvania vineyards use these events (and possible awards) to promote the quality of their wines. In the past few years, the Keystone state has seen four in-state competitions, which include Farm Show, Pennsylvania Wine Association Competition, and Sommelier Judgment and Wine Excellence.
“I feel any major international competition is a good measuring stick to see how your wines compete on the world stage vs. just in your own backyard,” says winemaker Kevin Robinson, a UC Davis grad and valuable asset of Karamoor Estate Vineyards & Winery, one of the region’s top producers located just outside of Philadelphia.
“If your claim is that you’re making world class wines then you shouldn’t hesitate to compete with the best in the world,” added Robinson. “Being recognized by wine professionals and your peers is always good validation that you’re on the right track or hitting the right notes.”
Karamoor Estate and its fine wines have won a plethora of prestigious awards from competitions like the International Women’s Wine Competition, the 2022 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, and the 2022 Sunset International Wine Competition in Sonoma County, California.
Based on 2020 data collected by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) ranking the state’s top sellers and producers, Mazza’s Vineyard in Erie County produces the most wine at 193,658 gallons and is the highest-ranked wine vendor at 120,068 gallons.
Frank Hill in Northampton County is ranked 4th in sales and 5th in production while Clover Hill in Lehigh County came in at 4th in production and 6th in sales.
Dauphin County vineyards that made the list include Spring Gate (3rd in production and sales) and Broad Mountain (13th in production, 17th in sales)
Innovators in Pennsylvania are also revolutionizing the cultivation process with new digital resources and databases. Cultivars in the Commonwealth is a new web application, a collaboration between the PLCB, the Pennsylvania Wine Marketing and Research Board, and the Penn State Extension Grape and Wine Team. Using survey answers from over 60 vineyards across the state, the app will provide data on grapes in Pennsylvania, county by county, and information on how well each variety will perform based on consumer demand.
Winery owners have already praised the application’s development. Vice President Jonas Nissley of south-central Pennsylvania’s Nissley Vineyards says that information from other growers “will help us make informed decisions about the future of our vineyard,” and Ed Lazzerini who oversees the 5-acre Vox Vineti Winery outside Philadelphia says the app will add “a lot of value as a tool to aid with site selection and variety selection” and that “its value to the industry will deepen as its data set grows.”
From its production, presentation, and of course, its quality, Pennsylvania wines excel, and professionals in the industry from farms to “mom-and-pop shops” are showing the world how to make a satisfying glass.