Franklin Hill Vineyard was the location that I chose to visit. It is an estate located on Franklin Hill Road in Bangor, PA. (Pennsylvania) and is fifth in wine production in the United States. Franklin Hill has grown from 3,000 barrels their first year to 60,000 per year. They grow French American grape varieties such as Vida Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet France, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Elaine Pivinski is the owner of the Franklin Hill Vineyard and has been operating the vineyard since 1976 with no viticulture knowledge. Her vineyard is the Lehigh Valley’s oldest winery and the third winery region in Pennsylvania. Elaine had no wine-making experiences before she went into the wine business. “As early pioneers in this industry, there was no instruction manual. With a lot of hope and plenty of luck, we guided these majestic vines into rows. They in return produced an amazing crop year after year, (E.Pivinski, 2019).” Her business is successful and is running with help from her families and friends. Her first planted vines are forty-two years old and took five years to grow, while her new acre of vines is seven years old and took three years. They experienced difficulty planting the new vines, they discovered that the grass growing on the land was stealing all the vines nutrients and had to be removed. The trouble didn’t stop there, a trickle system or irrigation had to be installed because it refused to rain.
Helen who was our tour guide, she showed us everything we needed to know about the winery. During our visit there we were able to observe the very beginning of the bud break stage of the vines. Harvest of these grapes usually occurs during the second week of September and takes around seven weeks.
She explained that Elanie started the wine business with older techniques, using the technique Brix to measure sugar levels of their grapes. (S. Guide 2017) The vineyard makes a variety of different wines including red, white, fortified and rosé with a list of specialties that are delicious as their names are stimulating.
Stainless steel tanks are used for their fermentation, as supposed to using neutral Barriques/oak (wooden barrels) having had trouble keeping the quality of the Barriques and keeping pace with the demand. Most of their blends feature an alcohol level of 10-12% except for port wines which are around 20%.
Helen explained that Elaine had been producing the wines in a singular Destemmer, which is used to first crush wine grapes and then separate the grapes from the stems, multiple stainless-steel tanks, and Paper filters. However, when they discovered that not only were the paper filters unstainable but also depleting large amounts of the wine they switched to a filtration device obtained from Germany. (Fun fact, the filtration system was the same cost of the land purchased for the vineyard). Punching down the cap is a method for the vinification practiced at this vineyard along with cold stabilization for one of their wines called Evanswood. Adding oak flavors is achieved by using fabric like material filled with oak staves and chips that are attached to the bottom of the tanks.
After leaving Franklin Hill we journeyed to a vineyard called M&M Vineyard. This vineyard was only three years old. The owner and his wife were both microbiologists, they planted the grape vines in 2016.
They grow Vidal Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Point Noir, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc. Their wine tasting only cost five dollars, and you can taste seven different types of wine. However, they only sell their wines locally, so you won’t have the chance to buy their wine unless you make the drive to their vineyard for a full wine experience. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take a tour to see the inside of their winery because it is not open to the public.
From their website they describe the benefits of the land, they purchased after spending two years researching. “Nestled between the rolling hills of the Pocono Mountains and the Delaware Water Gap, our site was chosen through extensive land and soil analyses conducted throughout Northampton County. Our Vineyards’ ideal south-facing slopes made of rocky, well-drained soil, rich in weathered shales, balanced micronutrients, and generous mineralogy, provide an exceptional terroir for producing the most highly expressive wines. Also, the small batch, handcrafted, winemaking practices that we employ produce the most captivating wines in the region.”(S. Mohinder, 2019)
I really enjoyed my trips to these vineyards and have gained a large amount of knowledge and fascinating stories from the workers that we met.
Certified Specialist of Wine: Study Guide 2018. Washington, DC: Society of Wine Educators, 2018. Vocabulary words.
Lehigh Valley’s Oldest Winery │Franklin Hill Vineyards. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://franklinhillvineyards.com/
M&M Vineyards. (n.d.). Welcome to M&M Vineyards. Retrieved from https://mmvineyards.com/