There’s something to be said about drinking wine in the place where it grows. And given the quality of wines that Pennsylvania and New Jersey are producing, drinking locally means drinking well. From more casual, family-friendly environments to intimate one-on-one tastings with the winemakers themselves, local wineries not far afield from Philadelphia have a lot to offer. They’re all a little over an hour drive outside the city — and totally worth the trip.
Wayvine Winery & Vineyard
4374 Forge Road
Wayvine is not just a winery — it’s a lifestyle for the Wilson family, owners of this third-generation picturesque Nottingham farm. Zachary and James Wilson are the winemakers and vineyard managers who oversee the 18 different grape varieties grown on-site. Put plainly: Wayvine’s wine is fantastic. Selections are mainly dry red and white single varieties, but the Matriarch and the Chief are curious delicious standouts. The Matriarch is a blend of riesling, gruner veltliner, pinot grigio, and sauvignon blanc; the Chief is made from carmine, merlot, and cab franc. Carmine is a cross of cabernet sauvignon and carignan, which was considered a “mystery grape” when it appeared among a crop of Wayvine’s chardonnay. Shaded seating is available on the lawn or under a tasteful covered tent decorated with white lights and used barrels. Live music and local food trucks rotate weekly and smiling pups Chlöe, Maze, and Ember frolic and play among happy guests seated next to acres of vines. The winery also offers homemade cocktails and local beer, as well as yoga, art, and other events.
632 Baltimore Pike
Chadds Ford, PA
Chaddsford Winery offers sparkling, sweet, and dry wine made from common European grapes like pinot grigio and cabernet sauvignon, as well as wine from French-American hybrids such as chambourcin, noiret, and the lovely and floral vignoles. The winery sits on five beautiful acres and offers a casual, fun ambiance and easy-drinking well-made wine from winemaker Gabriel Rubilar (although serious reserve styles are also available). The winery is open seven days a week and features a lawn for blankets and a shaded picnic area. Walk-ins are welcome, but reservations are recommended for weekend table service and required for some of the more involved educational experiences such as the hour-long Barrel Room tasting. Winery tours start in the fall, led by the extremely knowledgeable head wine educator and winery manager, Rachel Rhan.
Galer Estate Vineyard and Winery
700 Folly Hill Road
Kennett Square, PA
Nestled among the gentle, sloping hills of Kennett Square, Galer is a boutique winery whose approach marries nature, science, and art. Winemaker Virginia Mitchell offers sparkling, white, rosé, and red wines from her Icon, Reserve, and Huntress series, and Red Lion Chardonnay as her single vineyard designate. Gruner veltliner and albarino appear as special surprises among more expected choices like chardonnay, pinot noir, and cabernet franc. Galer’s wines are fruit-driven, dry, and elegant. Mitchell’s talent is particularly showcased by her sparkling chardonnay. Sit out back for sweeping views of the well-manicured vineyards and listen to the wind that sounds like waterfalls as it blows through the surrounding tall trees, or head inside for the tastefully done bar that opens onto an outdoor patio. Light snacks are available, and seating is first come, first served.
Karamoor Estate Vineyard and Winery
40 E. Skippack Pike
Fort Washington, PA
The Karamoor experience begins with a long, tree-framed driveway that eventually runs through open fields dotted with barns before finally reaching acres of vineyards. If the entrance promises sophistication, the wine delivers. Winemaker Kevin Robinson creates high-quality international styles primarily from French varieties. Grapes are grown completely on premises at the 250-acre Fort Washington estate. Tickets are by appointment only and include a tour through the vineyards and barrel room and a brief the history of the Karabots family and the Karamoor property. The tour culminates with a tasting in the well-appointed main tasting room, and outdoor seating is available.
370 S. Egg Harbor Road
Sharrott Winery is a family-owned vineyard, winery, and wine bar located in Hammonton, New Jersey. Sharrott boasts a majestic outdoor setting and a beautiful indoor area with a spacious, airy bar with vineyard views. The friendly and knowledgeable staff is happy to guide you through a tasting menu that spans from light and easy dry reds and whites made of international and hybrid grapes to heavier, bolder reserve styles, as well as sweet fruity wines like Sharrott’s Just Peachy sangria. New Jersey is the Garden State, after all. The bar features a full food menu, and the winery is open seven days a week.
Penns Woods Winery
124 Beaver Valley Road
Chadds Ford, PA
Winemakers Gino Razzi and Davide Creato can accommodate just about every palate by offering a variety of sweet, dry, sparkling, red, white, and rosé at Penns Woods Winery. Wines made from international and hybrid grapes are offered, and selections run the gamut from the playful and fun moscato rosé to the high-end aged Library Series Reserve cabernet franc, available only to members of its wine club. Penns Woods wine is made from 100 percent Pennsylvania fruit predominantly grown on-site at the 35-acre facility. Tastings for smaller groups and couples take place on the covered outdoor deck, while there’s plenty of tented outdoor space for larger groups who want to buy by the glass or the bottle on the lawn, where local beer and cider is also available. Penns Woods is open seven days a week and has a full calendar of events and classes. Bonus: A dollar from the sale of each bottle is donated to viticulture and enological research in the state of Pennsylvania to grow and support the wine community.
50 Sweetwater Road
Glen Mills, PA
Come to Grace Winery if you’re ready to feel as if you’ve taken a step back in time — indeed, the property traces itself to the 1680s. Its long and interesting history includes a role in the Underground Railroad and centuries later, it’s now a fully remodeled barn and tasting room that sits across from a grand manor called the Inn at the gorgeous 35-acre estate. Winemaker Andrew Yingst’s list features mostly traditional wines like chardonnay, pinot grigio, and cabernets franc and sauvignon, all of which are polished and well done. The Dragonfly Red Blend comprising syrah and cab sauv is notable for its bright and lovely expression. Grace offers a light menu by chef Dan Wood that is sure to please, as well as beer and spiked seltzer. Vineyard tours that include special tastings and visits to the property’s horses, goats, donkeys, and alpacas are available. Dogs on leashes are welcome, and resident pups Nala, Julep, and Rita are sure to say hello.
49 Sproul Road
The excellently named Vox Vineti is Latin for “voice of the vineyard,” which winegrower and owner Ed Lazzerini wants to speak for the winery’s rocky site in Andrew’s Bridge, Pennsylvania. Vox Vineti’s short list of five single-vineyard wines made of Bordeaux varieties and nebbiolo are complex, earthy, and mineral-driven. The wines are made with the intention to reflect a sense of place rather than winemaking techniques, so cellar intervention is minimal. Vox’s wines pair well with food, and you won’t find any sweet styles. Production is extremely small, with between one and four barrels per label produced. Hour-long tasting appointments are intimate affairs on Saturdays and Sundays and are hosted by Lazzerini himself.
Va La Vineyards
8820 Gap Newport Pike
Va La specializes in small production field blends made predominantly from Northern Italian and French varieties. Farmer/winemaker Anthony Vietri is a fascinating man making fascinating wine. Vietri has a philosophy of only working with what the vineyard gives, meaning that his blends change by vintage, depending on the integrity of the fruit and the willingness of the land. Va La’s current list contains an amber-hued skin-contact wine and four reds, each of which exhibits purity, distinction, and intensity. Vietri’s use of oak (Pennsylvania oak included) proves that restraint is talent, as it enhances and lifts up — rather than outshines — the grapes. Relax in Va La’s main indoor tasting room or on the back deck overlooking its small well-tended vineyard. Along with the wine, enjoy local artisan cheese and house specialties while chatting with the charming and wonderful Miss Jane behind the bar and tending tables, whose own love comes through with her sweet attention to detail and conversation about all things wine and life.
White Horse Winery
106 Hall Street
Pull into White Horse Winery under the wooden cut-out of a bright white horse and you’ll likely first encounter Macie, the black lab who serves as the winery’s official mascot. White Horse’s breezy and spacious tasting room showcases a rectangular wraparound bar and an outdoor patio that overlooks the vineyard and lawn dotted with covered picnic tables. Owners Brock Vinton and Brock J. Vinton II’s goals are to shine a light on New Jersey as a serious wine-making region — to that end, winemaker Seferino Cotzojay offers French varieties alongside hybrids such as Cayuga primarily in dry reds, whites, and rosé, although the list has some sweeter wines too. The dry rosé and chambourcin show Cotzojay’s deft skills. The winery also offers small plates and a full events calendar that contains food trucks and live music.