Seven Springs Wine Festival Recap
by Coraliz Leilani Jacobs
Sepytmember 8, 2021
Missed out on wine fest this year? Just learning about it for the first time and want to know more? Recapping the entire wine festival and their offerings for you. Find out which wines stood out, which wines were critically acclaimed and which vineyards are closest to your hometown.
But before we get to the wine, here’s a friendly reminder that wine can be very subjective. Each palette is different and there is no right or wrong way to make or taste wine. All that matters is that you try, keep an open mind and find what it is you like.
Arrived at Seven Spring to find an already buzzing scene. Live music greeted you as you walked towards the entrance. Just past the checkpoint were 30 vendors sprawled out underneath white tents stacked with boxes upon boxes of wines waiting to be sampled. With so many options to choose from, we walked towards the first tent and got in line.
First up, Glades Pike Winery, Liz greeted me and told me about the vineyards rich history. They have been in Somerset, PA since 1994 and have been coming back each year to Wine Fest since it’s secondary year of inception. Friends of mine rave about their Black & Blue fruit wine, which consists of blueberries and blackberries. So naturally I had to sample that first, it was surprisingly delicious as my palette usually favors a much dryer wine. Liz then recommended the Bicentennial Blush, a cross between their Niagara and a Concord. She recounted how its existence in their portfolio was merely accidental. Long ago, her father, lead vintner Steve, accidentally misbottled their Niagara and didn’t realize until about 100 bottles in. What resulted was a light and refreshing blush wine with a hint of sweetness and a lingering grapey finish.
One site over was Blue Mountain Vineyards from New Tripoli, PA. They’re best know for their Lehigh Valley Riesling. As a non-Riesling drinker I can honestly say this wine surprised me most and was one of the best wines I tried while there. It was crisp, had low to medium acidity and a balanced minerality with a dry finish. This Riesling was more reminiscent of a varietal you would find in Alsace, France or Niederösterrich, Austria or domestically in the Finger Lakes, New York.
Bee Kind Winery was up next. From Clearfield, Pennsylvania this winery also has a location in Ligonier, a easy day trip from Pittsburgh, PA. I was particularly excited to stop by and sample because of their brand mission and eco-friendly approach to wine making. The wine of theirs that blew me away most was the Blackberry Melo. Technically a dessert wine, it is 100% blackberry fermented with wildflower honey. If visiting the Clearfield location, they also have a retail store that sells their local raw honey, house made treats and works from local artists.
Seven Mountains Winery is a personal favorite. They serve very robust and full-bodied wines as far was PA wineries go. I’d recommend so many of their wines: Blackberry Merlot, Unoaked Chardonnay, Petit Syrah, Cabernet Franc, and Ten Point Red Blend. What I am most impressive about Seven Mountains are the vintages. I took home a 2017 Ten Point Blend. Here is what that timeline looks like– the grapes come from Lake County, CA. Once they arrive in Pennsylvania, they hold the grapes until they are ready to begin the wine making process and add approximately 12 weeks to produce the wine, this equates to 1 full year. The wines are then oak barrel aged for another calendar year and then bottle aged for another year. That’s a total for three years from grape to consumer. It is precisely that time, care and passion that makes these wines so special.
I happily discovered Woody Lodge Winery next. Truthfully, I wasn’t very aware of their offerings before my arrival. Located in Ashville, PA just a short drive from Altoona, this small winery is producing some of the best award-winning wines you’ve never heard of. John Gailey Jr is the lead vintner and a proud veteran; he walked me through some of his best selling wines. I started with the Black Pearl, a port style wine that has won the ASWA, Atlantic Seaboard Winery Association, Best of Category Port Award every year since 2019. It is 100% Blackberry juice and would make a phenomenal after dinner wine. We also sampled their award wining Riesling, it was semi dry with notes of pears and apricot. They didn’t feature this item at Wine Fest but they are the first and only producers of Wine Ice Cream in PA! It is now on my list of things to seek out and find. The Tipzy Cow Wine Ice Cream line features these flavors: Blackberry Merlot, Chocoholic Cherry, Spiced Apple, Bluesberry and Strawberry.
Most Pittsburghers will know this next winery, Bella Terra. Located in Hunker, PA just under an hour drive from downtown Pittsburgh. It is best known for being a beautiful wedding venue, having a great live music line up, a large rotation of food trucks and award wining wines. I frequent this winery quite often and these following three wines should be on your radar. Blanc de Blanc, a dry sparkling white wine that pairs with nearly everything. Their Cabernet Sauvignon is dry and full-bodied with notes of red fruit like plum and cherry. Summer Sangria, there is always a bottle of this at my house, red sparkling wine with notes of peach, raspberry and apple.
Another winery on a long list of places I’ve been meaning to check out, Black Dog Wine Company. The main winery is located in Oakdale, has much to offer and is easily accessible to our Pittsburgh readers. While there sip on the Keelboat Red, an American DeChaunac that has won multiple awards including a double gold at Denver International Wine Competition and a silver medal at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. This medium to full bodied red wine is oaky and dry with soft tannins and notes of blackberries. With fall right around the corner, I’d also recommend a seasonal favorite, the Johnny Applespice: a fermented apple wine, golden in color with notes of cinnamon and clove. Needless to say, this winery is dog friendly and a perfect trip for the whole family!
Hungry Run Wine Cellars was another fun find! Founded in 2015 by husband and wife duo Steve and Katy Flood in Lewistown, PA. They have been producing some excellent textbook wines but they have some fun experimental wines you need to know about too. The front-runner in my opinion was their Mojo. A true Niagara, it was light and refreshing, sweetened just right and invigorated the senses with fresh spearmint and a hint of lime. Very reminiscent of summer and hot day drinking with only 3 weeks of summer left to enjoy.
Seven Springs Wine Festival comes back every year with new and old vineyards alike. When the end of summer rolls round again next year, raise your glass and join us again in sampling some of the very best in PA. With 300+ wineries in the state of PA and only 30 wine vendors at this wine festival, I invite you to check out your local communities to find other vintners in your area producing locally made wines. There are many reasons to drink local. Environmentally it is much more sustainable than consuming wine from across the world. Fiscally you are contributing to your local economy that in turn supports you and your neighbor. Personally it is exciting to sample and discover new wines to love and to have access to year round.