Berks County Wine Trail Celebrates Valentine's Day Despite Snowstorm

News photo by Roxanne Richardson Dave Czeponis, server at Kog Winery, said the winery had steady business during the snowstorm.
News photo by Roxanne Richardson John and Michelle Hartman, Birdsboro, and Ginger and Tom Kunkel, Orwigsburg was at four of the wineries on the tour. They found the treat at Manatawny by far the best.

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 to125 attendees and even greater numbers the very next day.

“Unfortunately I was not here yesterday; I was snowed in,” said Dave Czeponis, server at Kog Winery, Morgantown. “From what I heard, it was pretty steady. You know, those who were brave enough to venture out in the snow.”

According to Czeponis, there had been at least 100 people out by late Sunday afternoon with 12:30 to 1:00 being the busiest.

With only an hour left of the wine trail, there was still a group gathered at the counter sampling the sweet treats and wine.

“When you have wine and chocolate, it’s phenomenal,” said Lori Ziegler, Birdsboro. “The chocolate brings the taste of the wine out; it makes it totally different.”

“They’re pairing the Kranbernet, it’s a Cabernet with cranberries,” said Jim Ludwick, Reading.

The winery’s new wine is a blend of dry cranberry wine and Cabernet Sauvignon aged in American oak. The wine by itself tasted semi-dry, but when sampled with the brownie, it was smooth and sweet. As Ziegler said, it was completely different.

One attendee who wished to remain anonymous, said in a hushed tone, “The raspberry at Manatawny was enough to want to just make you lick the paper plate,”

Manatawny Creek Winery, Douglassville, was our next stop. The winery treated attendees to samples of chocolate-raspberry-cream roll set in a bed of raspberry wine sauce and then paired with sparkling raspberry wine.

“You don’t have to go anywhere else for any better wine than right here,” said Bill Hanth.

According to Colleen Norheim, server and cooking class instructor, the winery had about 150 snowstorm attendees which was about half of what they normally expect.

“Almost everybody that came yesterday were really local people who didn’t travel too far,” said Norheim.

Norheim had cooked up 30 rolls of a chocolate cake roll with a raspberry wine whip cream filling and a raspberry wine reduction syrup paired with the sparkling raspberry wine for a festive dessert. She said the cake required so many egg yolks that they had a lot of egg whites so they made chocolate coconut macaroons as well to use up the egg whites.

Following Norheim’s instructions, I took a little taste of the wine first then a taste of the food and wine together. The resulting flavor was smooth and very berryish. Norheim said that the idea is, when you’re doing pairings, to make sure that the food and wine compliment each other. The wine has a more interesting taste and the food has a more interesting taste because the two flavors are going in your mouth and blending.

“It’s the closest I’ve come to where the beverage taste is as much as the dessert; they compliment each other,” said Tom Moran, Muhlenberg.

“I will say the peanut butter product with the Concord wine was delicious,” said Moran’s wife, Chris.

Christine Poletti, Leesport, said the pairings made her more apt to by the wine.

“I wouldn’t have necessarily thought of pairing it with treats that they paired it with,” said Poletti.

“These all compliment each other,” said Tom Kunkel, Orwigsburg. “The other ones were contrasts, very good contrasts. The chocolate was sweet, but the wine offset it.”

“By far, this was the most inventive,” said Kunkel’s wife, Ginger. Kunkel said each flavor elevated the other as she sampled the raspberry treat at Manatawny. She felt the sauce made the difference.

The Kunkels were driving the Berks County Wine Tour with their friends, John and Michelle Hartman, Birdsboro.

For more information about the Berks County Wine Trail, go to http://www.berkscountywinetrail.com.