We had a bit of a staycation last weekend. South-central PA has a bunch of wineries, breweries and good restaurants so we picked a direction, York and east to Lancaster, and headed out. Sorry, no photos. I’m not much of a photographer anyhow. 🙂
Just a note, these places did charge for sampling as most places do now.
First stop was the Old Republic Distillery in York. They have a small storefront in a strip mall just off Route 30 on the west side of York. They do vodka and moonshine and flavored riffs on both. The vodka is extraordinarily smooth. They also make a blackberry flavored version that has no sugar in it, so I’ve finally found my flavored vodka that doesn’t taste like Jolly Rancher syrup. The gal who was working there suggested it in lemonade which was very good, tasting rather like a Smartie (a small pressed tablet candy here in the US). We picked up a bottle of that and of their Love Potion Black Cherry, a fruit liqueur that is not too sweet at all and you can taste that frisson of bitterness that black cherries have.
We did taste most of their offerings, and do want to go back for the Apple Pie Moonshine. You gotta love a liqueur that you have to shake up since it has real spices in it. It’ll be great hot and buttered in the fall. I also liked the fact that the gal who was working that day knew her history of the area.
For lunch, we headed to the White Rose Bar and Grill. With two towns 30 or so miles apart called Lancaster and York, we do have a lot of rose references going on. This restaurant is right across from the old town market, which is a lively place on Saturdays, very bohemian. Parking is a bit of a trial, though we got crazy lucky that there was a parking space in the lot for the restaurant. Driving through York is also a trial since people were complete idiots when it came to just walking out onto the street anywhere. It was like it was the jaywalking capital of the world.
The White Rose is a gorgeous restaurant, with a porch half way around it, and more outdoor seating in its sister business, a cigar bar. We sat inside because I just don’t like the noise and dirt of sitting outside along a busy street. They did have all of the doors open along the porches so it was pretty much like being outside anyway. I got a plate of fresh-cut French fries with an inordinate amount of bacon and chedder on them (I do prefer Cheez Whiz, because it doesn’t harden into a carapace) that was good, and my husband got a cup of cream of crab soup and a pit beef sandwich. Pit beef is a large roast of beef cooked over a wood fire and then sliced up. All was excellent. We also had a couple of beers, mine a Liquid Hero Schweet Ale, which was very refreshing and not too sweet as many fruit beers are, and husband’s a Crystal Ball Coconut Porter, very tasty and gets more coconutty as it warms a bit. Always nice that we can now get the local beers at other outlets, so we don’t have to visit everywhere, although we do want to do so.
East on Route 30, we went to Moon Dancer Vineyards and Winery. Or at least we tried to. This winery is set back into the country a few miles. It’s near a very lovely overlook of the Susquehanna River, and close to some of the biggest houses I’ve seen in a while. It is up one of the worst kept gravel lanes I’ve been on in a very long time. If your car has not much clearance, I would advise not to go unless they do some major grading of the lane. We made it up the lane and went into the house that holds the winery. Unfortunately, a small bus had got there just before us, an outing from a senior care facility that also advertised that they did memory care too. It was going to take forever to get served, so we left. As we did so, we met a full-sized tour bus creeping its way up the rutted mess of a lane. Good thing we had some room to get over.
Getting back on Route 30, we headed toward Lancaster. The next winery on our itinerary was Tamanend Winery. The tasting room is along a small road in an older industrial park, in a small warehouse. We were hoping to try their mead but they were out. They had a very odd lime margarita flavored wine that tasted okay but smelled like lime dish detergent. We got a bottle of a sweet red fruit mix wine, Patriot, which should make a good sangria and a bottle of Honeysuckle, a apple and concord grape wine, also sweet.
The Vinyards at Grandview was the next stop, up along Route 283. This winery had more wines that were of the drier, more expensive variety. When we entered the tasting room, there was an oblivious bevy of women at the bar, taking up all of the space with no consideration for anyone else. The staff was very nice to us in that they told us we could sit at one of the small tables and they would bring the wine to us to sample. All we tried were very good, and much more for a palate used to drier wines rather than the sugar bombs that PA has a tendency to turn out. We got a bottle of the Gruner Veltliner, a dry light white, Crimson Quartette (we do love our red blends) and Pop Umble’s Black Cherry wine, another lovely cherry flavor with just that tiny hint of bitterness.
The last winery on our day tour was the Vineyard and Brewery at Hershey. Due to the eternally weird alcohol laws of Pennsylvania, this is in two separate buildings. The wine tasting room is in what appears to be the old farm house and the brewery tasting is in a steel barn down the hill a bit. The original barn is a kennel and you can hear dogs yapping. The wine was also quite good and we picked up a bottle of Twisted Kiss, a sweet white, and a desert wine Cocoa di Vezzetti. Yes it does taste like chocolate (mixed with port), and anything within spitting distance Hershey inevitably has some candy or chocolate theme.
At the barn, you can get a flight of the beers currently on tap. The quality varied widely, from a supposed Hefeweizen with absolutely no phenolic flavors, to a very good Mexican style lager and a tasty chocolate flavored brown ale. Outside the barn is a nice sitting area with live music. It’s just a shame that most live musicians never check what they sound like after setting up. For gods’ sake, check the balance so we can actually hear the singer and not just the electric piano.
To end the day, we stopped at Lancaster Brewing Company’s restaurant just outside of Harrisburg. Having an alcohol-sharpened hunger, we got appetizers: a platter of bacon done 3 or 4 different ways, egg rolls that were filled with what goes on a Rueben sandwich, and a hot queso blanco and chorizo dip. That stuff was just heaven. I had a Baked Pumpkin Ale, which is one of the few I’ve had where you can really taste the sweet spices.
So, that was our weekend. We did also go see Ant-man, which was loads of fun. Just make sure when you are out tasting to drink lots of water (or my favorite, Gatorade) and pace yourselves.