Small businesses, particularly those in food, drink and hospitality, suffer mightily under the restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Small- and mid-sized wineries, dependent as they are on tourists and tasting room visitors, also are hurting. Most of them build their businesses on the ability to sell direct — to visitors, event guests or online shoppers — capturing the full retail markup for their products.
Fortunately, wineries are selling online and via curbside pickup. I recently did a wine tour from Scott Twp. to the Endless Mountains.
I started at Maiolatesi Wine Cellars, 32 Cabernet Drive, Scott Twp. While I wish I could have tasted all of owner/winemaker Sal Maiolatesi’s offerings, I had to settle for a few I picked up curbside with the foccia sandwiches and wing bites from his pickup-only bistro.
Maiolatesi sells a lot of sweet wines — fruit wine, grape wine and combinations of both. He does a very good job with them, but his heart and skill are with drier table wines meant for food.
Perfect for the season, the refreshing Maiolatesi Rosé of Cabernet Franc shows strawberry and cherry characters with a round mouthfeel and nice acidity. $17. ★★★★
Maiolatesi 2018 Pennsylvania Naked Chardonnay is another fruitful choice. “Naked” means it doesn’t rely on barrel aging or fermentation tricks, so the wine shows the flavor of the grape with apple and melon, a rich texture and sturdy acids, making it a suitable meal wine. $14. ★★★★
Nimble Hill is a Mehoopany winery and brewery with a Tunkhannock tasting room and a staff that will take your order on the phone, get it ready, and bring it right out to your car and load it.
Every year, I wait for Nimble Hill Tozcko Vineyard Pennsylvania Riesling, and the 2018 is out and as great as ever. This drier riesling, with a small lift of sweetness, shows honeysuckle and white pepper smells and a peach flavor. $20. ★★★★ 1/2
Nimble Hill 2017 Pennsylvania Pinot Noir Rosé shows flavors of ripe cherries and honey with a soft texture, making it a nice aperitif. $18. ★★★★
Further into the Endless Mountains is Wyalusing’s Grovedale Winery, where you can find some unique wine grapes.
Try the heralded but generically named North Branch White. Made with the La Cresent grape, this is a super-cold hearty variety. LaCresent shines. For the sweet wine lover, Grovedale 2017 North Branch White is a fruit salad in a glass, with vibrant tropical characters and complexity with acids that balance the sweetness. $15. ★★★★ 1/2
Now more than ever, we should support the businesses and wineries that breathe the same air and pay the same taxes to help make sure they are still around when things return to normal.
If you find yourself in another part of state or if you have a Pennsylvania winery you have visited and enjoyed, reach out to them online or by phone. All Pennsylvania wineries can ship to Pennsylvania residents.
GRADE: Exceptional ★★★★★, Above average ★★★★, Good ★★★, Below average ★★, Poor ★.