Friday, October 10, 2008

Regional Wine Week, Day 6: Pinnacle Ridge

Photos courtesy of

Before we forge ahead, let’s step back a moment. Regional Wine Week is an idea created by a couple of wine writers to acknowledge that winemaking exists in this country outside the West Coast and to bring exposure to a few of those great wines being produced.

I’m one of almost 20 writers and bloggers across the country who are producing original content this week. You can find the collection of stories at

Meanwhile, the tack I’ve taken with my contribution is to focus on at least one winery from the five wine trails in Pennsylvania that I cover. I can do the ol’ kill two birds with one store by recognizing
Pinnacle Ridge Winery outside Kutztown, about 95 minutes or so northwest of Philly and west of the Lehigh Valley. Its location makes it perfect to sit along two wine trails: the Lehigh Valley and Berks County. Indeed, the winery will be particularly busy these next two weekends because of its commitments to both wine trails. This weekend is an Artisan Cheese & Wine Pairing event that the Berks County wineries have planned; next week is the Lehigh Valley trail’s Chambourcin Weekend.

Brad Knapp and wife Christy Allen run the show here. As documented at
Wine Trail, who was kind enough to send me the photos that accompany this posting, Knapp “bought this land in 1990 and planted the vineyards in 1993. In 1995, he opened the winery to the public. He currently produces between nine and ten thousand gallons of wine (about 4,000) cases). Rather than increasing the quantity of wine, Brad wants to put his emphasis in the quality of his wine. Although Brad’s background is in chemistry, he approaches wine as an art. He believes that a winemakeer’s most important tool is his palette. His wife . . . designs the colorful, eye-catching wine labels.”

Knapp told me the other night that his winery is a cross between ‘doing what I want to do and doing what needs to be done. There’s certain things that I like to drink, wines that I enjoy . . . and they’re a passion and really a focal point. I’m also a person who has a business and has to run a business and I try to make every person who walks through our door happy. It’s just good business to do that..

“In my opinion,” he added, “where we are here in our location, you know, the reality is that we’re a destination but there are enough people that live in this area that we get all kinds of people who walk through this door who otherwise might not walk through a winery door in the middle of Washington state, for instance, or Oregon. Those wineries the people who go there make a real effort to go there. People that are touring in those areas are all about wine, where as in this are we’re more populated, so we get a pretty different demographic walking through our door, much broader. There’s a need to have wines on our portfolio that anybody who walks in off the street will find something they like. So we feel the need to have a wide range of products, but then there are those that are my passion, and those are very traditional in general.

Should you poke your head in, here are two wines you need to sample.


Winemaker’s notes: Double gold at 2008 Finger Lakes International, gold medal at 2008 PA Wine Association competition. This dry rose sparkling is made from 100 percent Pinot Noir via traditional Methode Champenoise. Shows beautiful bubbles and pink color; perfect with appetizers.

Brad Knapp: “I love sparkling wine, and it’s definitely one thing that sets us apart. This is kind of a prime example of business vs. what I want. I wish it was the only sparkling that I felt I need to make, frankly, but that’s not the way it works out. I don’t sell a lot of it, in reality. It’s gotten good critical reviews, does well in competition. It’s just a nice wine.”


Winemaker’s notes: This barrel-aged, dry red is soft and velvety and displays beautiful cherry fruit. We think Pinot Noir is one of the most fruit-friendly reds.

Brad Knapp:
“We’re more attuned to Pinot Noir, getting behind it more. And, nationally, it’s getting there. You’re right, the movie [Sideways] certainly changed things for Pinot Noir. It increased the attention dramatically. We’ve been learning how to make it better and better. We’re getting to release our ’07 at the end of this month.”

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