After a leisurely morning at the Summit Inn (yes, free coffee and they had a fire going) we headed to the first winery on our itinerary. Glades Pike is about an hour away – and watch those rural routes, signage can be difficult to see. We arrived at Glades Pike, open since 2002, around 12:30, and were welcomed by the staff, despite the fact that there were several customers already at the tasting bar, Liz, our contact, quickly had us set up with a tasting menu. We explained that we didn’t have a lot of experience with wine, but having lived in the Finger Lakes region we were aware that in certain regions of the United States, grapes grow differently and local wineries tend to excel at certain grape blends. In my experience, drinking white in the Finger Lakes can be trancendental, but drinking reds is like sneaking your friend’s grandmother’s Manechewitz when you are 13 – grape juice with a kick.
Liz mentioned that although Glades Pike imports much of the “juice” used in their wines, that there are restrictions set up by state law that if you buy grapes or juice that you have to by within a 350-mile radius. Most Western PA winemakers who buy either grapes or juice buy from the Erie region, and some from West Virginia. Because some of the grapes or juice are imported, and because of the type of grapes this climate can support, Western PA excels at both whites and reds. Over the five wineries I visited, I found this to be unequivacobly the case. Wine is Western PA is a matter of taste, not quality. By this I mean that there are a wide range of high-quality wines, something for everyone. Liz asked if one of us was the designated driver for the day, and my almost husband (AH) admitted that somehow he had been roped into the job. At most wineries, tastings are limited to 6 wines which should keep drivers under the legal limit. Of course, there are so many factors that influence how people react to alcohol, an ideal winery weekend might include a hired DD. No one wants to cut themselves off when the wine tastes this good!
At Glades Pike, to taste most wines is free, although there is a $3 charge to taste a flight of their dry reds. We selected our six wines: A dry Seyval Blanc, which was light and fruity. A Baco Noir with longlasting flavors of black cherry. The semi-sweet Winter White was not overly sweet and I was surprised by how much I liked it’s clean, crisp flavor. When Liz told us that one of the fruit wines, the Black & Blue was her breakfast wine, we knew we had to try it. It was a blend of blueberry and blackberries and we imagined it would go very well with our next batch of blueberry pancakes. The AH wanted to try the Mountain Mead, a honey wine. I was intrigued, especially when Liz told us that couples that finish a bottle of mead on their wedding night would have healthy baby boys. I liked the wedding fable and though mead is an acquired taste, we did pick up a bottle to finish off at our wedding.
Following the tasting, assistant winemaker Corey took us on a tour of the winery. He explained that the wine is fermented in these large stainless steel tanks that were formerly used to store milk. I hesitant to try to summarize the techniques he described so I would recommend you go see for yourself! Glades Pike is happy to provide tours when they don’t have weddings or other events going on.