By Danielle Taylor

Pennsylvania may not be the first state that comes to mind when you think of wine, but it ranks among the best in the nation as the fifth-largest grape producer and seventh in wine production and number of wineries. Some of the commonwealth’s best libations are concocted right here in the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors, and with October being Pennsylvania Wine Month, there’s no better time to get out and try the region’s endless variety of wines, beers, and spirits. Our Uncork the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors Wine Trail guide outlines more than two dozen wineries, vineyards, breweries, distilleries, and other relevant destinations throughout the region, and new ones are opening up all the time, so you’re sure to find something perfect for you, no matter your taste.

Each year, the Pennsylvania Winery Association hosts a statewide competition for wine excellence, and several wineries in the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors have taken home awards for their creations. Buddy Boy Winery & Vineyards, which has a location in Ridgway and also sells at Lindemuth’s Country Store in Brookville, took home two silvers and a bronze in 2017 for their Concord, Niagara, and Stampede varietals. The Winery at Wilcox in northern Elk County won silver in 2017 for their Chardonnay and three bronze medals in 2016 for their Bear-ly Blush, Celebration, and Clarion River Rapids selections.

Other area wine destinations have made names for themselves due to the uniqueness of the products and services they provide. Deer Creek Winery in Shippenville serves a wide range of refreshing wine sorbets in addition to their full menu of liquid wines and also has a romantic inn onsite with spacious fireside hot tub rooms. In southwestern Clarion County, Foxburg Wines serves up more than 30 varieties of reds, whites, and fruit flavors, including some fortified high-alcohol dessert wines measuring 24 percent alcohol by volume. Benezette Wines in the heart of Elk Country serves delicious hard apple ciders in addition to their grape offerings, and nearby, the always edgy Elk Mountain Winery keeps things risqué with tasty options like Jack Ass Red and Horn E. Elk.

Shadow Vineyard and Winery in Punxsutawney is a beautiful wedding venue as well as a tasting destination, and just down the road, you can meet a few of Punxsutawney Phil’s third cousins while imbibing at Groundhog Winery. Near Leeper, R** Bandana Winery features live music several times a week to accompany their wide range of fruit wines along with a respectable menu of whites and reds. Wapiti Ridge Wine Cellars near Penfield leans toward sweeter wines, perfect for those still developing a wine palate. And don’t miss the brand-new Copper Fox Winery in Kersey, which celebrated its grand opening less than a month ago. If you prefer to craft your own drinks, stop by Means Cork and Cap in Clarion for all your wine-making and brewing needs.

Of course, the region’s tasting trail doesn’t end with wines. Check out the home-distilled moonshine found at Brookville’s Blackbird Distillery or Kersey’s Chicken Hill Distillery, and be sure to try the Eternal Tap at Straub Brewery in St. Marys and the ever-changing array of microbrews at Clarion River Brewing Company on Clarion’s Main Street. Twisted Vine Winery, with locations in St. Marys and Clarion, provides a wide variety of primarily sweet wines in addition to an array of beers and spirits. For non-drinkers, each of these destinations also offers non-alcoholic options, and many serve delicious meals or snacks as well.

To stay in the loop on area wine, beer, and spirits news and events, follow the Uncork PAGO page on Facebook and our online event calendar. Throughout the year, you can find wine walks, tasting festivals, pant and sip nights, live music, and much more. Don’t miss these upcoming events!

– Straub Brewery Hosts Book Launch, October 4
– Gobbler’s Knob Wine Festival in Punxsutawney, October 6
– Harvest Fest at the Winery at Wilcox, October 6-7
– 16th Annual Cider Pressing and Tasting at Laurel Mountain Vineyard, October 7
 Wine Tasting Workshop at Deer Creek Winery, October 13
Foxburg Fall Art, Wine, and Food Festival, October 14
 Wine and Dine Weekend at Gateway Lodge, October 26-28
 Cork and Fork at Laurelbrooke Landing, November 17
 Brookville Wine Walk, December 1
 Ridgway-Elk County Holiday Cheer Tour, December 7

Learn more and get your own Uncork Guide to the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region by going to VisitPAGO.com or calling (814) 849-5197.

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