Philadelphia’s hometown devotion run deep. Restaurant menus having been calling out local farmers and producers for so long that names like Green Meadow Farm and Birchrun Hills have become part of the city’s culinary lexicon. At a bare minimum, even the divey-est of dive bars has bottles and drafts from local brewers like Yards and Philadelphia Brewing Company. But when it comes to Pennsylvania wine, sourcing close to home often isn’t part of the equation.
Pennsylvania is home to over 270 wineries and five AVAs, or designated wine-growing regions, but looking at the majority of the city’s wine lists, you’d never know it. Why? Alexandra Cherniavsky, sommelier at The Love and Pennsylvania wine ambassador, chalks it up to three factors: Bad marketing, lack of representation on state store shelves, and the fact that although Pennsylvania has been producing wine for centuries, as a major wine region, PA is still relatively young.
The state’s wine-making history dates back to 1683 when William Penn planted vines from Bordeaux in Fairmount Park. It took a while, but recently winemakers in “Penn’s woods” have been stepping up their game and producing some very good juice.
Philly-area restaurants like Vernick Food & Drink, High Street on Market, Tria, White Dog Cafe, Vintage, Terrain, Amis, and Olly often have a locally made wine or two on hand. For more extensive selections, from Italian-inspired bottles born in Lancaster to Kennett Square field blends and Northern European-style whites, the bars and restaurants below are where Pennsylvania terroir really shines.
1525 South Street
Jill Weber, owner and resident oenophile at Jet Wine Bar, has always taken a worldly approach to the wine menu, but that doesn’t mean that she shies away from close-to-home winemakers. Jet’s current lineup includes a rosé from Brandywine Valley’s Penn’s Woods, Stony Run Farms’ gruner veltliner, and PA firsts from Lewisburg’s Ferro Vineyard, including a skin contact (or orange) pinot grigio and a saperavi made with a grape variety indigenous to Georgia.
414 S. Second Street
At Bloomsday, a combo cafe and bottle shop, you can try German-inspired bottles from Andreas-based Galen Glen, Lancaster-grown Italian-style offerings from Vox Vineti, and reds and whites from relative newcomer Wayvine, a family-run operation in Nottingham whose first harvest was in 2010.
130 S. 18th Street
At The Love in Rittenhouse, sommelier Alexandra Cherniavsky dedicates a section of the wine menu to “Our Friends and Neighbors.” There you’ll find PA selections including Galen Glen’s gruner veltliner and riesling, a barbera blend from Avondale’s Va La Vineyards, and an albarino from Maple Springs Vineyard in Bechtelsville.
2113 E. York Street
All things local has been a priority for this Kensington favorite since it opened in 2015. On any given evening, the wine list at Martha boasts a deep selection of made-in-PA wines, with local flights, bubbles from Kutztown’s Pinnacle Ridge, and cabernet franc and sauvignon blanc from Karamoor in Fort Washington, as well as hard-to-find vintages from Va La.
106 W. Gay Street, West Chester
West Chester hit Andiario has taken “buy local” to the next level with its Pennsylvania-sourced Italian menu that uses everything from in-season black walnuts to trout raised at Green Walk Hatchery. The wine list skews more international but does showcase Galen Glen, Vox Vineti, and Kennett Square’s Galer Estate.
1500 Locust Street
This Instagram-friendly Rittenhouse bar is the place to go to for PA wine happy hour. Weekdays from 4 to 6 p.m., Blume’s bartenders are pulling draft pours of Galen Glen rosé, Allegro sparkling brut rosé, and Pinnacle Ridge sangria, all for $5 a glass.
14. N. Front Street
Panorama’s sommelier Bill Eccleston has reserved a few taps on his Guinness World Record-awarded Cruvinet dispensing system for local wines (150 wines are available by the glass at the Old City restaurant). Diners can taste their way through a flight that includes locally made pinot grigio, chardonnay, pinot noir, and traminette, a French-American hybrid that thrives on the East Coast.