After graduating from Vassar College in 1997, vintner Tom Carroll Jr. continued his education in California, where he taught himself about viticulture and enology to achieve a lifelong dream of opening a winery. Three years later, he returned to his hometown to found Crossing Vineyards on a plot of land situated a short distance from George Washington’s Delaware River crossing. The winery mingles historic charm and pastoral surroundings with modern technologies, such as a sterile HVAC bottling system and solar-energy panels. Tom and his parents, also co-owners, built the facility around eco-friendly winemaking practices, such as composting waste and using cover crops, a technique that prevents topsoil erosion and helps vintners sing the young grapevines to sleep.
Crossing Vineyards' European-style wines have won more than 115 awards in both national and international competitions over the past 12 years. The winery offers tastings and wine-pairing classes in an onsite educational area and hosts an annual summer wine-and-music series on its sprawling, 15-acre property.
The professional, knowledgeable staff at Vintner’s Circle share their love of the wine lifestyle with hands-on wine classes that teach guests, family, and friends how to bottle wines, distinguish between different varietals, or pair wine with cheese. The shop’s unique, all-inclusive winemaking program takes aspiring vintners through the accessible four-part process in store over the course of eight weeks, which begins with choosing wine juices from a selection of more than 50 internationally sourced varieties. Participants eventually bring home more than two dozen bottles with their own vintage for a total cost of less than $10 per bottle. They can emblazon these bottles with custom-designed labels and colorful tops. Vintner's Circle also stocks a variety of gifts for weddings, holidays, and other special occasions, as well as wine accessories and gifts for wine lovers to enjoy year-round. Wine-education classes, corporate events, and team-building events are also on offer.
When Food Network staple Robert Irvine and his Restaurant Impossible crew arrived at Mamma D's, they were overwhelmed. Ambitious owner Luigi Desiato operated an eatery that was equal parts restaurant, vineyard, and petting zoo, a combination that clouded his sizable culinary prowess and led to an overabundance of greased pig races. But Chef Irvine's visit enabled the charismatic Luigi to pinpoint his vision, and Mamma D's has since transformed into a hub for high-end cuisine and fresh-off-the-vine wines. Vinos, such as a dolce vita sweet red and chardonnay pinot, gush from taps beside craft beers at the full-service bar that, along with the outdoor patio, overlooks the idyllic 2-acre vineyard. Sips on these homegrown varietals complement the menu of small plates, chops, and seafood, which, according to the Montgomery News, encompasses a "combination of recipes from Bologna and Abruzzo, where both sides of Chef Louie’s family grew up."
The host of his own Sayre Woods Media series, Wine'm and Dine'm with Chef Louie Desiato, Luigi also presides over daily classes where he shares his bottomless knowledge of cultivating grapes and pairing wines while serving up artisanal cheese and surprises from the kitchen, which is manned by his talented son, Nick Desiato.
Blue Mountain Vineyards owners, Joe and Vickie, are pinot pioneers. Beginning with a 5-acre experiment in 1986, they discovered that the soil of the Lehigh Valley does a fine impression of French terrain, making it suitable for growing the grapes of cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, and other European varietals. Since then, they've expanded to a 50-acre plot, where they now produce wines that have won awards from the Fingerlake International Wine Competition and Appellation America.
Panoramic views of the Blue Mountains overlook scenic terraces at the vineyards, where grapes spring from soil that soldiers roamed during the Revolutionary War. Tastings, concerts, and other events fill the winery's glass-flanked deck, spilling onto an outdoor patio surrounded by ponds as tranquil as a silent lullaby. Visitors admire the vines during tours, and they can also adopt their favorites to preserve the vines' flavorful histories.
Jason Harris brews classic American pale ales right alongside his own patented version of watermelon beer, illustrating his passion for both traditional techniques and forward-thinking beer recipes. The company he started in 1992, Keystone Homebrew Supply, now employs a staff of similarly dedicated crafters who are wise in the ways and means of making your own beer, wine, cheese, mead, honey, and flavored play-doh. In addition to stocking all the required equipment and ingredients, Keystone's 23,000-square-foot location in Montgomeryville also hosts classes that inspire amateurs to cook up their own tipples and cheeses.
Peace Valley Winery's 20-acre estate delights wine gurus with its gorgeous facilities and vineyards brimming with two dozen varieties of distinctly flavorful grapes. Today's Groupon grants guests access to a range of winetivities and items. Start off with a wine tasting ($5 fee, waived with purchase of a bottle), and allow one of Peace Valley's fermentation-fanatic staff members to informally demonstrate how to analyze the winery's varietals.