One of Pennsylvania’s oldest wineries is rolling out something new for its Bud Break celebration
Clover Hill Vineyards & Winery, one of Pennsylvania’s best-known producers, once produced sparkling wines.
In reality, you can check out his website and find a few for sale, including sparkling Chambourcin, sparkling Vidal Blanc, sparkling Cayuga, and sparkling Niagara.
But despite his best efforts to blow bubbles, he unleashes something he’s never done before: Blanc de Blanc. Made from 100% estate-grown Chardonnay, Clover Hill’s Blanc de Blanc is finished dry with a small addition of brandy in the dosage.
It will be released today at Winery in Breinigsville, Lehigh County, and Robesonia Vineyard, Berks County. The first will accompany Clover Hill’s Budbreak celebrationwhich will take place from today to Sunday to mark the start of the 2022 growing season.
A tasting of Blanc de Blanc will be accompanied by cheeses from Haven Farmhouse Table and available for $3. The sangria will also be available by the glass for $7 each and by the carafe for $21 each. Here are some other weekend highlights for the winery, which opened in September 1985:
- Food truck in Breinigsville: April 22: Pub K’Town will be there from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
- Music in Breinigsville: April 23: Bret Alexander from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.; April 24: Mike Noecker from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- Music in Robesonia: April 23: Vince Rollins from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.; April 24: Vuja De from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Breinigsville Wine Estate is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. For those unfamiliar with the area, there are several producers located in the neighborhood, including Vineyards and wine estate of Vynecrest and Stony Run Wine Estate.
Clover Hill doesn’t just make sparkling wines, but has had success with a Vidal Verde, first released in 2015. It’s one of many frizz made in the region; Boordy Vineyards near Baltimore has had similar success with its frizzante called Spritz, made from the Seyval grape.
Kari Skrip, who graduated in wine marketing from the University of Adelaide, Australia, and now largely runs the business with his brother John III, said their sparkling wines are made using the traditional Champagne method (which requires secondary fermentation in the bottle). In the past they used their Chardonnay largely as a varietal, but in the fall of 2020 they decided to pick the Chardonnay a bit earlier to retain more acidity. “My brother just felt [it was] best suited to a sparkling wine, and instead of blending it or doing anything else with it, we made it as a pure Chardonnay,” Skrip said.
Clover Hill grows between 2 and 3 acres of Chardonnay.
Skrip noted that for years Clover Hill made sparkling Pinot Noir, picking the grape in early years when conditions prevented it from ripening sufficiently. “And we loved it,” she said. “It was like our precious treasure.”
But winter damage and age prompted them to pull out the rest of their Pinot Noir vines in 2020. Hence the decision to pull out Chardonnay early and try Blanc de Blanc.
Overall, the Clover Hill vineyards are going through changes for a variety of reasons, from old age (almost 40 years) to winter damage to the state taking over some of the planted land for a roundabout.
With all that, Skrip said, “it was just a time when we were looking at all of our sites and saying, OK, what makes sense to keep and what makes sense to shoot and let sit for a few years before replant this.”
A Pennsylvania winemaker approaches 2022 with the usual goal: staying true to their roots