Is there ever a day as fine as one spent on roads that wind along rolling hills, past orchards and vineyards, and right to the doorstep of local wineries?
On a cool, cloudy October day I had a meeting to attend but rather than head out the interstate and get there in an hour, I made it my day away. I had wine and apples on my mind. I was headed to Reid’s Orchard and Winery — not only their farm but their new Gettysburg tasting room.
I stopped in their handsome Gettysburg shop first to taste their hard ciders, Cripp’s Pink Hard Cider and Farmhouse Cider as well as the carbonated Black Bear Cider. With 7 percent alcohol, these were refreshing, crisp and bright. It was like taking a bite of the freshest, tartest apple. I liked the carbonated Black Bear — their newest cider — best. I tried their apple wine, too, but preferred the cider. I enjoyed the chance to try them side by side. I couldn’t pass up the Seminary Ridge. A sangiovese-nebbiolo blend, it was dark and dry with a touch of minerality I didn’t expect.
The tasting room is nice and certainly convenient for all the Civil War history buffs stopping into town. But I wanted to see the farm. It’s northwest of Gettysburg, maybe a leisurely half hour away. And oh did I pick the right day to visit. Inside, the winemaker, Dave Reid, was racking 2012 and 2013 cabernet. Outside, deep red juice was being pressed for new zinfandel. And I got a taste of that new cab blend. I’m coming back when it’s available in November. About 80 percent of Reid’s output is red wine, 20 percent is cider or apple wine.
Between the two Reid visits, I decided to follow the signs — they’re very persuasive — to a second winery, the Adams County Winery, also home to the Gettysburg Winery. So what if it was going to take me out of my way? I had this fine fall day to spend wandering so I didn’t mind. I must add a thank you to my iPhone — its GPS took me along some spectacular scenery, through the Michaux State Forest, along hills covered in apple-laden trees, past golden fields of dried corn. I may be a city girl, but on a fall day this was heaven.
Adams County Winery has a big tasting room set among their vineyards and the blueberry bushes whose fruit goes into their Yankee Blue blueberry wine. Adams County wins the prize for best wine names…Tears of Gettysburg, Evening Embers, Turning Point and Three Ships to the Wind. I tried the driest of their wines. Appalachian Moon (see what I mean about the names?) is a crisp and citrusy chardonnay. Tears of Gettysburg was sweeter with a hint of graphite. Turning Point, a mix of chambourcin and cab, was dark, full-bodied and filled with tannins. I had to try Three Ships to the Wind. With its hint of peach, I had to take some home to make sangria. Adams County, which also has a Gettysburg shop, has been producing wines since 1975. Both of these wineries are part of the Gettysburg Wine and Fruit Trail, 58 Maryland and Pennsylvania growers, markets, restaurants and inns.
© Text and photos Mary K. Tilghman