On a recent trip back to the East Coast, I had the opportunity to discover Penns Woods Winery, thanks to a Philadelphia-area blogger, who had recommended the winery to me for some time and has written about many of their perhaps unconventional pairing events, such as their wine and cupcake pairing event, International Bacon Day, and Penns Woods & Righteous Felon Jerky pairings.
Penns Woods Winery was founded by Gino Razzi, an Italian immigrant who had made a name for himself in Pennsylvania as a longtime importer, distributor, and winemaker. After many years in the international and local wine industry, he purchased Smithbridge Winery in 2004, which would become Penns Woods. In 2010, his daughter, Carley, joined the business to market and manage operations at the winery. Penns Woods is a family operation through and through, which is evident upon first visit.
Not surprisingly, Penns Woods exceeded my expectations in all areas, including the quality of wines produced and the winery’s warm and inviting property. Thanks to Carley’s graciousness, my blogger friend and I had the opportunity to taste through all of their current offerings. The winery produces award-winning wines for every palate, from sweet to dry. For those who prefer dry wines like me, do not sell the off-dry and sweet offerings short, as they are made with the same care and quality as the dry wines.
From the sweeter side of the palate, I especially enjoyed the Bancroft Riesling, a perfect balance of off-dryness and acidity, with aromas and flavors of flowers, citrus, tree fruits, and honey. I was also fond of the Traminette, which is a hybrid grape that offers the aroma and flavor characteristics of one of its parent grapes, Gewurztraminer, which means its floral aromatics and slight sweetness would be the perfect pairing for spicy Asian cuisine. If you are a Moscato lover, you can’t go wrong with their Merlot-based Moscato Rosé or their Moscato. And if you are ready to venture into reds, the Field Blend Red, with its flavors of dark berries and vanilla, would be the perfect entry point into the world of red wines.
As mentioned previously, I tend to prefer drier wines and all of the Penns Woods offerings were great examples of their varietal grapes. The Sauvignon Blanc was made in a softer, palate-friendly style of tart and sweet fruit flavors. I was very pleased with the Chardonnay, which maintained that fine balance between fruit and oak, with aromas and flavors of apple, baking spices, and vanilla. The White Merlot, a dry, Merlot-based Rosé, was delicate, dry, and mouthwatering, with aromas and flavors of red berries and stone fruits. The two dry red wines we tried, the Proprietor Reserve Bordeaux-style red blend and the Merlot Reserve, were nothing short of fantastic. Both were fruit forward, with firm tannins and lingering finishes.
For those who may visit Penns Woods in the future, please leave any wine biases you may have at the door and refrain from comparing their wines with those from other states and countries. If there’s anything I have learned since I began serious wine tasting, it is that premium wines, regardless of location, will always reflect their terroir, the environment and the climate in which the grapes are produced, as well as the winemaker’s style. What you will find at Penns Woods are exemplary examples of Pennsylvania wines.