Sunday, January 4, 2009

Stone Villa Wine Cellars

During another trip to Seven Springs, we visited the closest winery from the West, Stone Villa Wine Cellars. The winery is a short 20 minute drive from the resort and is a nice alternative when the legs get tired or the lift lines too long. Stone Villa opened 8 years ago, after Randy and Debbie Paul planted vineyards on the surrounding hillsides. The winery and tasting room were built by Randy's construction company and his father, James, finished the stonework. His creative masonry skills gave birth to the winery's name. And the facility is quite impressive.

Even though the winery is located in the middle of the Laurel Highlands, almost all their wine sales comes through the tasting room. And during our visit their was a constant stream of customers. The winery grows 12 varieties of grapes that are used to produce almost 20 different wines. In many instances the winery also purchases grapes from other Pennsylvania vineyards to supplement their harvest. With that number of wines, there's bound to be a wine for everyone - particularly when the styles range from dry to sweet. Having three tasters, we tried most of them. For dry white wines they produce the Villa White a blend of Chardonnay, Seyval, and Vidal Blanc. The later grapes provides a slightly sweet sensation even though the residual sugar reading is zero. The dry Riesling is also nice, but we preferred the semi-dry version. Another off dry wine we enjoyed was the Padre's Rose - made from the Steuben grape - but with only a slight foxy character. Their Padre's Red was another interesting labrusca blend - where the Concord is very prevalent. Their best sellers are these sweeter wines, which include a semi-sweet Riesling, Niagara, Pink Catawba, and Villa Sunrise. These wines are sweet - but not gritty.

However, of all the wines, we enjoyed the dry reds overall. Their single varietal Chambourcin was very good - medium bodied with cherry flavors as was the Cabernet Sauvignon with its peppery finish. Then there were the blends. The Vintner's Select is a blend of Pinot Noir and Shiraz; the Palocitro Reserve a blend of Cabernet Sauvigon and Dechaunac; and the Stovilli a blend of Shiraz and Dechaunac. You don't see these combination's that often. Our favorite was the Palocitro Reserve - dry, full of flavor, and very smooth. The Vintner's Select had the most fruit flavor and also a smooth finish. These are the types of interesting wines we seek when exploring wineries.

Although Stone Villa gets winter traffic from the surrounding ski resorts, the summer time might be the best time to visit. During that season, they host music events in the evening on their patio overlooking the pond. That would be a relaxing experience.
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