Uncorking York County, Pennsylvania
There’s an unexpected discovery amid the lush green pastures and cornfields of York, Pa. Yes, you’ll find plenty of chickens, cows and deer, but this bucolic, silo-lined region is also home to a flourishing wine country.“Pennsylvania has the best vineyards east of the Rockies,” said Dick Naylor, veteran winemaker and owner of the Naylor Wine Cellars, one of 13 family-owned wineries on the UnCork York Wine Trail. “And there are more wineries in York than other counties in the state.” The region is about a four-hour drive from New York City, making it a perfect long weekend getaway. Most of the wineries, however, are about 30 minutes apart. So make sure to come equipped with GPS or a detailed road map. York County’s rolling terrain and moderate microclimate is ideal for harvesting grapes, and the wines have a lean, fruity flavor. Although wine grapes were cultivated in Pennsylvania long before European varieties reached the West Coast, the state is slowly becoming recognized for producing quality wines. One selling point is that Pennsylvania wine isn’t as high in alcohol or tannins as California wine. Here’s a sampler of three popular wineries along the UnCork York Wine Trail: Naylor Wine Cellars
Owner Dick Naylor is a virtual encyclopedia of wine history and his winery has won more awards than any other in the region. Back when he was an amateur, the charming 81-year-old made dandelion wine, and he still experiments. Naylor’s apple, peach, plum and strawberry wines are regional favorites. His sprawling, 27-acre vineyard is the scenic location for special events year-round.
Choice pick: Golden Grenadier, a “socially sweet” white wine dedicated to Naylor’s 107-year-old mother, Helen. Allegro Vineyards
The future of York winemaking could be in the capable hands of vintner Carl Helrich, dubbed the area’s “mad scientist.” Allegro was built in 1980 by two musician brothers (thus the name) and was sold in 2000 to Helrich and his wife. The couple is committed to producing quality, European-style table wine, and they grow six varieties of grapes on their five acres. Choice pick: Aria, a delicious “ice-wine” that could rival any Canadian brand. Four Springs Winery
With its central location adjacent to the historic York County Heritage Rail Trail, Four Springs is perhaps the wine trail’s most accessible winery. Pick up a bold bottle of red or semi-sweet white, and enjoy a $3.50 glass of vino in the inviting tasting room. Choice pick: Fat Cat Red, a Concord grape wine sure to please any Manischewitz fan. To Stay
48 East Market St., 800-233-9324, yorktowne.com
Guests are still given brass room keys when they check into this quaint, Renaissance Revival hotel with 121 oversized rooms and suites. Dine in the elegant, chandelier-accented Commonwealth Room, where executive chef Mark Pawlowski will whet your palate with culinary delights such as ahi tuna tartare and pan-seared scallops. No wonder he won the regional “Iron Chef” competition. Nearby attractions
2092 Long Level Rd.,
Take an excursion to Shank’s Mare in Wrightsville, Pa. (about 35 minutes from York) and kayak up the mighty Susquehanna River. Even the most water sports-challenged city slicker will surrender to the scenic row along the river’s edge. Make sure to look up to see nesting bald eagles. Single Rentals start at $25 for two hours for a single kayak and $35 for two hours for a tandem kayak. Grab an inexpensive snack at the Lock 2 Café. Serenity Station
11 Church St. (PA Route 214),
This cozy cafe and day spa in Seven Valleys, Pa. (about 20 minutes from York) is the former site of the Smyser Train Station & Elmer’s Store. Come in for a light bite (the crab cake melt is delicious) and a spa treatment (massages and facials start at $50). The landmark Serenity Station is also the ideal spot to revisit history. Bikers and hikers can explore the York County Heritage Rail Trail at the rear of the building, formerly the site of the Northern Central Railroad where President Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train passed by in 1865. Uncork York's Fall Promotion
UnCork York’s Wine Just Off the Vine event runs Nov. 20-22 (11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, $10 tickets valid for the three-day event). Ten wineries invite visitors to witness the grape’s transformation from the vine to the bottle, and to taste newly pressed wines fresh from the harvest. Call 1-888-858-York or visit www.UnCorkYork.com.