Grape Harvest Under Way Despite Recent Rain
Upper Macungie's two wineries celebrated Harvest Weekend and are gathering grapes
Upper Macungie’s two wineries are coping with the impact of record-high amounts of rain on their delicate crops.
The local grape harvest began during the first week of September and continues for about five weeks.
At Vynecrest, Jan Landis and her team of growers had to postpone their grape gathering for several days because of bad weather. Guests at the vineyard last Saturday got to see some of the action.
“It was great for the visitors to see, but very hectic for us,” she said. “We were lucky, (Hurricane) Irene didn’t affect us, but we can’t get the equipment out to harvest and that’s been the hardest part.”
Kari Skrip, co-owner of Clover Hill Winery, said this has been the most difficult grape-growing season of her 32 years in the business.
“We’ve been on a roller coaster this whole time. We’re fortunate that we didn’t lose everything, but we’ve taken a hit. It’s heartbreaking because you work so hard to get to this point, and then this happens,” said Skrip.
Both wineries participated in the recent Harvest Weekend festival as part of the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail. Vynecrest and Clover Hill are located only minutes apart from each other in Breinigsville.
In addition to celebrating the beginning of the harvest season, the event also served to promote the state’s “Pennsylvania Preferred” program, in which each winery partners with other Pennsylvania businesses and growers to showcase what in-state manufacturers have to offer.
“It was five or six years ago that we came up with the idea, long before the farm-to-table movement really got started,” explained Landis, who started Vynecrest with her husband, John, in 1989. “The initial idea was for all the wineries to partner with local food businesses, but it has really evolved since then.”
Vynecrest invited vendors from the Steel Stacks, Upper Macungie, and Eagle Point Farm Markets to showcase their offerings with food and wine pairings. Fresh produce was also available for purchase, courtesy of Bleiler’s Produce Patch.Customers could take home dried fruits and vegetables or the ingredients and recipe for a homemade salsa.
“I’m very big on ‘Buy Fresh-Buy Local,’ and the food and wine pairings that we have give our customers a chance to try everything,” said Landis.
While a potpourri of local growers gathered to help Vynecrest celebrate this year’s Harvest Weekend, Clover Hill Winery partnered with one local business, Reading-based Unique Pretzel Bakery, and opened up a second tasting bar to accommodate the number of patrons that visited the winery over the weekend.
September 11 marked Clover Hill’s 26th anniversary and the winery sold out of some of its most popular offerings - Blackberry Sparkler and Clover Hill Rosé.
“We’ve really had a lot of success,” said Skrip.
The next major event on the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail will be Chambourcin Weekend on October 15-16.