The Lehigh Valley Wine Trail combines the best of local agriculture with delicious, award-winning wines to give you a unique and enjoyable destination. The Trail consists of 9 wineries, each distinct in its location, varieties of wine, and experience. All of the Lehigh Valley wineries work together in a non-profit organization to promote this distinct region of wines. Since 2008, this region has been officially recognized as an American Viticultural Area, or AVA, with unique characteristics such as: rolling hillsides, soil composed mainly of shale, sandstone, and siltstone, and the Chambourcin grape, which is used in many of the wines throughout the region. It is this distinction that’s helping the Lehigh Valley rapidly become known as a premium wine producing region.
The nice feature about the wine trail is that even though these Pennsylvania wineries work together, each is its own entity, so you can choose to enjoy one or several at a time. My husband and I have had a wonderful time spending a leisurely afternoon at just one winery, as well as spending a day traveling to three or four, enjoying the scenery as we went. Even though the wineries comprise a large area of the Lehigh Valley region overall, some are not that far from one another, making it easy to visit a few in one day. Their website has an easy-to-navigate Directions Page which takes you to all nine wineries, starting with Amore and ending with Vynecrest, but that’s a mere suggestion. The directions make it easy to start at any winery on the list and navigate the trail from there.
The Lehigh Valley Wine Trail is open year-round (check each winery’s website for exceptions), and with its close proximity to both New York City and Philadelphia, it is a great destination for a romantic weekend getaway. There are many Bed & Breakfasts, restaurants, and other area attractions near these wineries in PA, as well as the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton, PA. Fall and Spring/Early Summer are the most picturesque times to visit, but I’ve had great experiences no matter what the season. You can plan your trip around one of the many events the wine trail has to offer, or go on an off weekend to minimize crowds.
If you’d like to experience the wineries in a more collective way, consider one of the many Lehigh Valley Wine Trail Events offered throughout the year, such as:
• March Madness-purchase a March Madness Passport for $30 and enjoy food and wine pairings at all nine Lehigh Valley wineries each weekend in March. Each year, participants also receive a free gift with their passports, and each passport that’s been stamped at all nine wineries is entered into a drawing for one of over 20 prizes.
• AVA Celebration-this new April festival celebrates the anniversary of the Lehigh Wine Trail receiving an American Viticultural Area distinction. The wineries will be showcasing their AVA-labeled wines.
• Wine on the Mountain-held in conjunction with Penn’s Peak in Jim Thorpe, this July event features wine samplings, local artisans and crafters, food, and live entertainment. Tickets are required.
• Harvest Weekend-this weekend in September expressly promotes the state’s “Pennsylvania Preferred” program, which highlights goods produced in PA. Wine pairings, vineyard tours, food, music, and other events are featured at these Pennsylvania wineries.
• Chambourcin Weekend-this October weekend celebrates the end of the harvest and the Chambourcin grape-the only grape that all nine Lehigh Valley wineries use to make wine.
• Nouveau Weekend-come out in November to sample the first vintages of the new harvest and stock up on your holiday wines.
If you prefer to savor each winery as a distinct destination, here’s a look at what each one has to offer:
Amore Vineyards & Winery
Amore is conveniently located off of Rt. 512 in Bath, PA. As you turn onto their drive, you’ll see the 200-year-old barn the winery uses as their store, tasting room, and event facility. The staff is friendly, and the atmosphere has a rustic/old world feel. When you park, the vineyard is right next to the barn, so you can see the grapes being used in the wines. Amore offers custom labels for gifting their wines, which is nice for a special occasion or the holiday season. They have a large selection of reds, whites, pinks (blush), sparkling, specialty, and dessert wines. Many of the specialty wines are light and fruity; my favorite is the Spiced Apple Wine, which is perfect for fall and winter, and can be served warm or cold. Amore also offers a produce and flower market so you can purchase other seasonal items as well.
Big Creek Vineyard
Big Creek’s vineyard is located on the south face of the Pocono Escarpment, giving this winery a growing region that’s more distinct from most of the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail. This Pocono Mountains winery’s unique environment has forced them to narrow their focus on a few wines, but what they make, they make well. When you visit Big Creek you’ll instantly feel at ease; the people are friendly, far from pretentious, and eager to help you select which wines are best for your individual tastes. Big Creek has a store located in Jim Thorpe as well. This is also a convenient winery to visit if you’re planning a vacation in the Pocono Mountains.
Blue Mountain Vineyards & Cellars
This winery has the most commercial feel to it, which isn’t good or bad, just a matter of personal preference. They have won many awards and accolades, and received quite a bit of press for their wines, which results in a more crowded and less personal experience at the winery (at least that has been my experience). The winery is housed in a more modern building with exposed wood beams, which houses an extensive retail store of books, clothing, accessories, and of course, wine. The bar in the back tends to get crowded, but free tastings are available. The building overlooks the vineyards which are located alongside a pond, making it a nice place to sip some wine and take a stroll.
Cherry Valley Vineyards
This is a lovely winery located in the Poconos. The main building has two long bars for free tastings, and walls of wine for purchase. A large outdoor porch is the perfect place to enjoy a glass and take in the scenery (and sometimes live music). On weekends, you can get a tour from the winemaker himself, learning all about the unique wine-making process. The Sorrenti wines of Cherry Valley are extensive, from reds, whites, and blush to fruit wines and Spumantes. The grounds of this Poconos Mountains winery have a pond with a fountain, gazebo, woods, and walking paths, perfect for a relaxing afternoon away. This winery makes a great romantic getaway for the day.
Clover Hill Vineyards & Winery
Clover Hill Winery is located in a picturesque setting amidst the rolling hills of Breinigsville, PA in a beautiful, modern building that gleams against the landscape. This is one of the largest wineries in PA, with 5 satellite locations in addition to the main winery. The retail store is filled with light, and offers many gifts and accessories, as well as their award-winning wine. Sample free tastings and then buy a glass to enjoy on the outdoor patio in the sunshine. This winery also has a more commercial feel, but its numerous locations seem to guard it against getting too crowded. Visit this page of their website to learn about other attractions, restaurants, and lodging near the winery to plan a getaway weekend.
Franklin Hill Vineyards
Franklin Hill is the oldest winery of the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail, and one of the oldest Pennsylvania wineries, starting with some experimental vines planted in 1976. Today, this scenic property is home to an extensive list of white, red, blush, and specialty wines which are sold at the winery as well as three other retail locations across the Lehigh Valley. Franklin Hills is located at the foot of the Poconos and offers views of the scenic Delaware River Valley. Their website contains a list of area restaurants that serve their wine, so you can continue your experience into the evening. The winery is currently offering Free Organized Tours every Wednesday at noon, and their new tasting room with a deck that maximizes the beautiful views is now open to the public.
Galen Glen Vineyard & Winery
Galen Glenn is hands-down our family’s favorite Lehigh Valley Wine Trail winery. On your first visit, you may think you’re lost, but follow the directions and you’ll get there just fine. Galen Glenn is located out in the country on back roads, making it a beautiful and secluded spot for a romantic wine-tasting date. The tasting room has an old-world Italian feel to it, and just beyond the building lies rolling hills filled with vines. Their red, rose, white, sparkling, and dessert wines are our favorites. The store also sells some local foods and cheeses; purchase some wine and cheese and relax while taking in the amazing views. Many of their wines have won awards, the staff is friendly and helpful, and the winery is the perfect place to truly get away from it all.
Pinnacle Ridge Winery
Pinnacle Ridge comes in a close second as a personal favorite. This charming winery is located in an old red Bank Barn, complete with Pennsylvania Dutch Hex Signs. The tasting room is in the bottom floor, giving it a rustic and intimate feel. They offer red, white, sparkling, and specialty wines. Our favorites are the red wines; many are oak-aged and have a rich and complex taste that we enjoy. Their Directions Page on their website lists other area lodging, restaurants, and attractions so you can plan a getaway near the winery. This is a fun place to visit, and it’s especially beautiful in the fall.
Vynecrest Vineyards & Winery
Vynecrest celebrates its Swiss-German heritage by making specialty wines that everyone can enjoy. Their tasting room and wine bar cellar are located in a beautifully-restored 19th century barn, offering sweeping views of the vineyards. This family-owned business is run by people who are extremely knowledgeable about wine and have a passion for local agriculture. They offer both white and red wines; my 2 favorites are: “Cherry DiVyne,” which is delicious when paired with dark chocolate, and “Spiced Winter Red,” which tastes so good served warm. You can buy a cup of this mulled wine at Christkindlmarkt, a German Christmas festival in Bethlehem, PA where Vynecrest sells their delicious wines every year. Vynecrest is just a stone’s throw from Clover Hill Winery, so these two make a great pairing for an afternoon of wine tasting.