Local winery places in top three

HARRISBURG Pennsylvania’s finest wines were showcased Saturday at the 2014 Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg. The show’s best wines in three categories received Governors Cup awards:

– Tolino Vineyards of Bangor, Northampton County, took top honors with their Cabernet Franc, a dry red wine. The 2010 vintage received Best of Show Dry Grape, Best Vinifera [Grape type] and Double Gold awards.

– Seven Mountains Wine Cellars Winery of Spring Mills, Centre County, received Best of Show Sweet/Dessert Grape with its 2012 Ice Wine, a blend of three popular wines from Pennsylvania, which also received Double Gold honors.

– Winfield of Cabot, Butler County, received Best of Show Fruit and a Double Gold award with its 2012 Blackberry wine.

“This multi-billion dollar, family-friendly industry is growing in size and quality,” Pa. Agriculture Secretary George Greig said. “All of this year’s wine entries received quality awards, an example of our vintners’ commitment to improving our wines.”

The Best Of categories included:

– Cassel Vineyards of Hershey, Dauphin County, received Best American and a Gold Award for its 2012 Blush.

– Greenhouse Winery of Rilton, Westmoreland County, won Best Hybrid and a Gold Award for its 2012 Traminette.

– Christian W. Klay Winery of Chalk Hill, Fayette County, won Best Sparkling and a Double Gold Award for its 2012 blend Lavender Mist.

Wines were judged prior to the show by Rutgers University staff in New Jersey, ensuring impartial evaluation by judges not associated with Pennsylvania’s wine industry.

As explained by Joseph A. Fiola, extension enologist for the University of Maryland, each wine is evaluated alongside wines of similar varietals, and all can attain the competition’s top quality award, Double Gold.

Farm Show Competitive Exhibits Manager James Sharp explained that the wines are judged on clarity, color, aroma, taste, balance and overall quality all of which depend first on quality grapes.

“Winemakers across Pennsylvania emphasize quality. Many are enrolled in the Wine Quality Initiative, which provides standard sensory training,” said Jennifer Eckinger, director of the Pennsylvania Wine Association.

“The wine competition is an exciting opportunity for our state’s winemakers to compare their products,” she said. “With more than 150 wineries and 12 wine trails across the state, it’s easy to visit a winery and learn more about wine.”

More than 20 wineries will offer tastings and wines for purchase at the Pennsylvania Wine Association booth in the Farm Show’s Main Hall daily. To learn more about Pennsylvania’s wine and wineries, visit www.pennsylvaniawine.com.