Lehigh Valley Wine Trail
Video released on: January 18, 2010
Interviewer: Welcome to this edition of Lehigh Valley Visions, video podcast on area attractions. Today, we’re celebrating the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail, which is home to nine family-owned and operated wineries. The wine trail also hosts 16 events every year, including March Madness, Nouveau Weekend and Harvest weekend. Our guest today is Kari Skrip of Clover Hill Vineyards and Winery in Breinigsville. Kari, I understand that Clover Hill is the second largest winery in Pennsylvania. How have you grown over the years?
Kari Skrip: My parents started this winery almost 22 years ago. My father was in a construction company, and my mom was a schoolteacher. They decided to trade it all in, live off the land, and in 1985, they opened up Clover Hill Winery, producing about a 1000 gallons of wine. Today, they’ve grown quite a bit almost to about 65,000 gallons of wine.
Interviewer: Wow, that’s a lot of wine. Now, will you take me through the wine growing process?
Kari Skrip: Sure. This is one of my favorite times of year. We’re getting close to grape harvesting, and as you can see, we’re out here in the vineyard and the grapes are just starting to turn to a bright purple color, meaning that they’re almost ripe. These are grapes called Chambersen, and we will harvest them about the middle of September. We’ll go through, hand harvest them, drop them into containers, take them down to the winery and crush and press them almost immediately.
Interviewer: I’d love to see those facilities. Can we go and take a tour?
Kari Skrip: Sure, let’s go. We bring all the grapes back to this location. We’ll start by putting the whole bunches into our press, where we can do as small as 50 gallons up to one ton of fruit in this press. There’s a bag inside the press that will inflate and deflate to ever so slightly crush and press the grapes. The juice will fall down through the slots and be pumped up into one of our fermentation tanks. From that point, we’ll have the clear juice, we’ll add a yeast culture, and the yeast will eat up the sugars and result in alcohol. That will take anywhere from one week’s time up to about one month’s time. From that point, some of the wines are ready to be bottled and consumed straight away, some of the wines are ready to be oak aged for anywhere from six months up to about two or three years.
Interviewer: I’d love to see the barrel room where you do the aging process. Can we go there next?
Kari Skrip: Sure, let’s go.
Interviewer: Great. Okay. So here we are in the barrel room. What kinds of wines will I find in these barrels?
Kari Skrip: What we have in this barrel is a 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon. It went into barrel in May of 2007 and will stay here anywhere from about 2 years for further aging to pick up more aromas and flavors. From that point, it will go to be bottled and ready to be consumed by you.
Interviewer: That sounds good. Now, how would you define Clover Hills wine making style?
Kari Skrip: We’ve always felt that we’d like to produce a broad range of wine styles, anywhere from a sweet white wine to a very dry oak aged red wine and something in the middle. We feel that wine should be enjoyed by everybody, and we hope to suit everybody’s needs.
Interviewer: That makes perfect sense. All right, enough suspense, Kari. Let’s go taste some wines.
Kari Skrip: Sounds good, let’s go.
Interviewer: All right. Well, now we’re in the tasting room, the end of our tour. Kari, it’s absolutely beautiful.
Kari Skrip: Thank you.
Interviewer: Let me ask you a personal question.
Kari Skrip: Sure.
Interviewer: What is the aha moment for you when you taste wine?
Kari Skrip: Oh boy, that’s a tough one. I love many different wine styles and lots of different flavors, but I think to me, the most important thing is to have a really nice wine in your glass to be enjoying with good friends, good family, sitting outside on a beautiful day.
Interviewer: I absolutely agree. What advice would you have for visitors who want to get the most out of their wine trail experience?
Kari Skrip: The best thing that you can do is to not try and visit all nine wineries in one day. Break it up into two separate days by doing the western half first including Clover Hill, Vine Crest, Pinnacle Ridge, Blue Mountain, and Gale and Glen. On a separate day, try and do the Eastern half of the wineries, which include Cherry Valley, Franklin Hill Vineyards, Big Creek and Amore. Each of those wineries have different rules and regulations as far as visiting, so I would recommend visiting each of their individual websites or visiting the lehighvalleywinetrail.com website first to find out more information.
Interviewer: Kari, thank you so much for giving us the tour today. I really appreciate it.
Kari Skrip: Thank you for joining us.
Kari Skrip: Cheers.
Interviewer: Now that we’ve given you a virtual tour of the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail, I hope you’ll want to come out and explore it this year. To request a free Lehigh Valley Wine Trail brochure, contact 1-800-747-0561, or visit us online at lehighvalleypa.org. Thanks for joining me for this edition of Lehigh Valley Visions.