The snow fell hard and fast making the roads slushy and slippery. Small compact cars with front wheel drive fish tailed coming down a main route. My own little Fiesta traveled as far as it could up the steep hill before being forced to turn around and edge inch-by-inch back down hoping to stop for the sign at the bottom. Despite Saturday’s weather, wineries reported record numbers of 100 to 125 attendees and even greater numbers the very next day. It was the Berks County Wine Trail Chocolate and Wine Pairing Event Weekend.
“Yesterday we got maybe about 100 plus; it wasn’t bad,” said Jaime Noll, server for Bashore and Stoudt Country Winery. “Today is really good. As you can see, we’re pretty packed right now.”
Bashore and Stoudt poured on the passion with fresh apples, blueberries, strawberries, pretzels and graham crackers dipped in fountains of milk and white chocolate. Mutsu apples slices drenched in white chocolate tantalized taste buds as much as the winery’s featured chocolate dipped strawberries served with its strawberry wine.
“They just compared good together. It accented the strawberries more,” said Mike Gratzinger. “You got more strawberry flavor out of it.”
Although Gratzinger enjoyed the berry pairing, he opted for an apple pie flavor in the way of the winery’s Appalachian Spice.
“We tried many, many different wines,” said Deb Gratzinger. “Very good.”
For Calvaresi Winery, the number of attendees climbed to 150 during the snowstorm.
“I think people just wanted to get out. They were tired of the snow,” said Debbie Calvaresi. “Today, we’ve been busy since noon; we haven’t stopped.”
Calvaresi estimated at least 150 attendees within the first couple of hours on Sunday. The winery had paired dark chocolate covered bing cherries with its signature 2013 Baco Noir as well as dark chocolate covered apricots with its 2013 Riesling.
“We have you try the wine and the fruit at the same time,” said Calvaresi.
“I thought the wine brought more of the cherry out,” said Steve Frymoyer, West Lawn.
Randy Detterline, server, spooned out a large chocolate covered cherry and then poured a taste of the Baco Noir. Following Calvaresi’s instructions to put both in your mouth at the same time, the flavor created was very much like a cherry cordial.
People continued to crowd around the bar to sample the pairings. There was even a couple who had come all the way from Brooklyn, New York, to spend a weekend in Berks County following the wine trail.
“We just left Clover Hill. It was amazing. We had a Concord mixed with a peanut butter chocolate and it tasted like peanut butter and jelly in your mouth,” said Bernadette Ali.
She and her husband joined the crowd at the bar excited to try the pairings offered by Calvaresi Winery.
For more information about the Berks County Wine Trail, go to http://www.berkscountywinetrail.com.