Kutztown winemaker Brad Knapp recently announced his retirement and sale of Pinnacle Ridge Winery.
In a joint statement, Allegro Winery of Brogue, PA., and Pinnacle Ridge Winery stated that they reached an agreement for Allegro to acquire the Pinnacle Ridge brand. Expected to be finalized in early 2021, the acquisition includes the rights for Allegro to produce and sell Pinnacle Ridge wines. The sale does not include the Pinnacle Ridge Kutztown property.
York County winemaker Carl Helrich, owner of Allegro Winery, will be taking over the production and distribution of Pinnacle Ridge wines.
Talks between the two winemakers began early in 2020 as Knapp made plans to retire and sell his Kutztown property.
“Carl and I have been critically tasting each other’s wine for at least 18 years. We would get together every spring with Joanne Levengood at Manatawny Creek and review our wines and beat each other up. I think we all looked forward to our annual tasting,” said Knapp. “Carl understands the style of the wines at Pinnacle Ridge and I have agreed to collaborate with Carl as he begins to make wine for the Pinnacle Ridge label.”
“I couldn’t be happier with this arrangement. I have full confidence in Carl’s ability to continue to produce wines that will proudly bear the Pinnacle Ridge label,” he added.
Owner and winemaker at Allegro since 2001, Helrich has been in the wine industry about 25 years. He looks forward to taking over the primary winemaking of the Pinnacle Ridge brand but also working with Knapp who will continue to consult on the winemaking for the brand.
“It will first and foremost keep the brand alive for Pennsylvania wine drinkers, but it will also allow me to make wines in styles that are different than what Allegro makes,” said Helrich. “Brad's focus on aromatic whites, sparklings and Pinots shows his balanced touch with those varieties. With Brad's consulting in the future, I can learn how to tame tannins and bring more nuances to my wines while continuing to keep the Pinnacle Ridge wines alive.”
In 2020, Pinnacle celebrated its 25th anniversary.
The Knapp’s bought their Kutztown property in 1990 with the intent of starting a winery. They were licensed in 1993 and started producing wine.
“I had a dream of opening a winery, classic case of an amateur with dreams,” he said. “The property in Kutztown was affordable, served as a home, had some land for a vineyard, had buildings that could be converted into a winery and also had good road access for visitors.”
Pinnacle Ridge Winery opened to the public in the summer of 1995.
Knapp said the experience over the years has been rewarding.
“Our business has grown and we have come to know some wonderful people,” he said. “The winery has constantly grown over the years. The laws changed several years ago allowing grocery stores and other restaurant license holders to sell bottled wine. We aggressively pushed on doing wholesale business with grocery stores, brewpubs, distilleries and restaurants and that effort has really paid off.”
What he will miss most is working with other friends in the industry.
Some of his favorite memories include hosting local bands, including Frog Holler and Craig Thatcher.
“We had some wonderful music events in the barn,” he said.
Another highlight was winning the Governor's Gup at the Pennsylvania Farm Show three times.
In 2021, Pinnacle Ridge Winery starts a new chapter.
“We have had a great time over the last quarter of a century and we hope that all of our loyal customers will be supportive of Carl and his efforts with the Pinnacle Ridge wines,” said Knapp.
After 30 years of working seven days a week, Knapp said it is time to slow down and enjoy life.
“The only real change is that the tasting room at 407 Old 22 will be closing on or near March 1,” said Knapp, who will be moving to Costa Rica, where his wife is from originally. “Leoni and I are planning on packing up our cats and moving to Costa Rica. We are ready for something different.”
The Kutztown property is under an agreement of sale with the prospective new owners planning to move their brewery to that location.
Until the Kutztown tasting room closes, Pinnacle Ridge continues its 25th anniversary sale on Jan. 11, which includes retail items, glassware, and flavored olive oils at 50% and 25% off wines.
While the Kutztown tasting room will close on or before March 1, Pinnacle wines will continue to be available in grocery stores (Acme, Giants, Wegmans, Weis) in the southeast region of Pennsylvania, and in brewpubs, distilleries and restaurants in the region, as well as online.
“Since the Pinnacle Ridge brand will continue and the wines will be produced by Allegro's Carl Helrich in collaboration with Brad Knapp, fans of Pinnacle Ridge will be able to enjoy the style and quality of wines they've come to know and love from Pinnacle Ridge,” said Brenda Adams, Operations Manager at Allegro Winery.
A new tasting room and sales location in suburban Philadelphia is anticipated to open in late spring or early summer of 2021.
“In addition to opening a new tasting room, we'll also be announcing the opportunity to join a quarterly subscription wine club featuring Pinnacle Ridge wines where members will receive a shipment of Pinnacle Ridge wines every three months,” said Adams.
Also, customers can continue to purchase Pinnacle Ridge wines via pinridge.com.
For more information about Pinnacle Ride Winery, follow on Facebook at @PinnacleRidgeWinery or visit https://pinridge.com/. For more about Allegro Winery, follow on Facebook at @AllegroBrogue or visit https://www.allegrowines.com/.