There are many things that we, as winemakers, can control to ensure the wine in your glass is swoon-worthy every time. We grow only the highest-quality grapes, tend and prune them with care and hand harvest (no machines!) to produce wines that make us proud. One thing we can’t control? Fickle Mother Nature.
We do have a few tricks up our sleeves to deal with the Northeast’s unpredictable weather patterns that have created slow but steady climate changes. We tapped vineyard manager and assistant winemaker Davide Creato’s brain to share how we’ve been handling environmental factors in our vineyards and what we plan to do to make sure we measure up to your high standards—and to keep you coming back for more.
How has the Pennsylvania grape-growing climate changed over the last 5–10 years?
We’re seeing longer seasons, with warmer temperatures in August and September. This has actually been a good thing: we’ve noticed better ripening of our grapes, specifically our red varietals.
How has Penns Woods changed to adapt and flourish?
We changed our trellising system to ensure that every pound of grapes has the right amount of canopy square footage. This improves the “air drainage” between grape clusters to help reduce moisture- and humidity-related disease.
We've had some very cold winters followed by really hot summers—how does that impact grapes?
We prevent winter injuries by making sure the vines go into hibernation with the most energy they can store. We do this by protecting the leaves even after harvest so they can continue to build carbohydrates—and push them down to the vine's roots. The hot summers are never an issue. Vines have deep roots, so they can fight the heat. They don’t get stressed by the dry weather.
What grapes thrive in our area?
At Penns Woods, our Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc are the most consistent and best-growing grapes in our vineyard.
What grapes has Penns Woods cultivated specifically for this climate?
Traminette is one of our favorite hybrids that does very well in this climate. For vinifera, which means grapes derived from European varietals, our Chardonnay does well in our milder summer climate. Yes, I said mild, which for us means lack of a significant number of consecutive high temperatures days!
What’s Penns Woods’ secret for succeeding in Pennsylvania?
We plant our vines in a north-south orientation with a 10-degree angle. This gives us even distribution of sunlight throughout the day. As for the soil, we plow to reactivate it before planting new vines so those delicate plants have fertile, softer soil to grow in.
Do you see any challenges ahead?
A major challenge is the warmer days we have had in early March, which makes the vines think that spring/bud break is here. After a warm day or two, then falling back into extreme cold temperatures, it is easy for the vines to become damaged. If there is a frost after bud break, which typically happens at the end of April, then there is the chance of losing part of the crop for the year due to the frost burning the young sprouts.
With an industry original like our president and winemaker Gino Razzi leading the charge along with Davide, we’re certain we’ll be turning out your favorites for years to come. We invite you to visit our tasting room and check out our upcoming events, two great ways to see how we manage the terroir to bring you the grande vino.
Penns Woods Winery is a family-run Pennsylvania winery. With more than 40 years of experience in the wine business, winemaker Gino Razzi and his daughter, Carley Mack, produce award-winning wines from Pennsylvania-grown grapes. Penns Woods wines can be found in restaurants throughout Philadelphia and its surrounding suburbs. Stop in to your local state store and pick from a limited selection of wines, or visit our tasting room for the full offering. The tasting room in Chadds Ford provides an all-around vineyard experience and hosts live music, food and wine pairings and other exciting events each weekend. Score Penns Woods Winery news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter today!
Go behind the scenes with the Penns Woods Winery team in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.