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The best excuse for not letting cold weather put a kibosh on exploring the region: the opportunity to taste great wine at its source.

Yes, that’s “great” used in the same sentence as locally-made wine. Over the past decade, vintners in Southeastern Pennsylvania have slowly and steadily improved their wares, to the point where some of the boozy grape they put out stands on the level with the best in the country.

Don’t take our word for it. Several PA wines medaled at this year’s San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, considered one of most prestigious in the U.S., and others have scored high at various other international competitions.

Or do take our word for it, which is based on a recent sampling of four standouts (that it turns out experts also appreciated):

  • Crossing Vineyards and Winery, Chardonnay
    — Silver Medal: 2017 Pennsylvania Farm Show’s Governor’s Cup Competition
  • Penns Woods Winery, Cabernet Franc
    — Best in Class: 2017 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition
    — Gold Medal: 2017 Berlin International Wine Competition
    — Silver Medal: 2017 New York International Wine Competition
  • Galen Glen Winery, Stone Cellar GJT Vineyards Riesling
    — Gold: 2017 Best of Appellation Awards
  • Waltz Vineyards and Winery, Crow Woods Cabernet Sauvignon
    — Bronze Medal: 2017 Dan Berger International Wine Competition (CA)
    — Silver Medal: 2017 Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition

All four of these producers, which are located in easy driving distance to the northeast, northwest, west and southwest of the city, offer tastings and tours throughout the winter.

Crossing Vineyards and Winery

Vintner Tom Carroll Jr. accomplished what few achieve: He turned a childhood dream into reality. He was 10 years old when he first declared his parents’ Bucks County estate would be perfect for growing grapes, and 15 years later he convinced them to go along. Groups of up to six are welcome to stop into the tasting room on a whim ($10 per person, plus $10 addition for a cheese or chocolate board), and larger gatherings can book in advance online.
Drive time from Philly: 45 minutes
1853 Wrightstown Rd., Newtown; 215-493-6500

Penns Woods Winery

It was founder Gino Razzi’s daughter Carley who helped him transform this Delco production facility into a welcoming destination for wine lovers. The tasting room is open year-round, and offers two different $12 flights, plus cheese plates to go with. In addition to bottles, the retail shop sells also sells locally made candles, art, totes, cheese, honey and chocolate.
Drive time from Philly: Less than an hour
124 Beaver Valley Rd., Chadds Ford; 610-549-0808

Galen Glen Winery

Just past Allentown in Schuylkill County is this vineyard and winery run by a pair of former scientists – Sarah Troxell was once a chemist, and her husband Galen was previously a mechanical engineer. Their skills are put to good use at their hilltop second act, which welcomes visitors seven days a week through the end of the year. A flight of six wines runs just $5. If the seasonal ice wine is available, it’s worth the $2 additional fee.
Drive time from Philly: Just over an hour and a half
255 Winter Mountain Dr., Andreas; 570-386-3682

Waltz Vineyards and Winery

In the heart of Lancaster County lies the vineyard Jan and Kimberly Waltz started on a farm that has been in the family for six generations. Now in its twentieth year, it produces more than 100 tons of wine annually. The tasting room opened in 2009, and offers sips and snacks surrounded by local artworks and a historical tobacco lathe saved from the estate’s past. Flights and glasses range from $10 to $13, depending on what’s being served, and there’s plenty of cheese and chocolate to pair.
Drive time from Philly: Just over an hour and a half
1599 Old Line Rd., Manheim; 717-664-9463

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Danya Henninger

Danya Henninger is director of Billy Penn at WHYY, where she oversees the team, all editorial decisions, and all revenue generation — including the...