Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Bedford Pennsylvania's Briar Valley Vineyards & Winery

Since no trip is complete without stopping into a local winery or brewery, while heading to Seven Springs Mountain resort for a short Father's Day break, I stopped in the historic town of Bedford to visit Briar Valley Vineyards & Winery. The winery has been operating for the past 7 years under the leadership of Jean and Tod Manspeaker. Jean is the winemaker with Tod as the vineyard manager. The grow a wide selection of grapes from Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Riesling as well as Lemberger, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. And at times, they need to supplement from other Pennsylvania vineyards but these are truly local wines.

Even though they are a small operation (2,000-3,000 cases annually), they have established a very nice tasting room in the heart of Bedford on Pitt Street. Almost all there wines are sold from here, with the remainder sold through various restaurants in Western PA.  And I'll start off immediately by saying I was quite impressed with both the consistency of their portfolio and the overall quality. I could quibble over whether I wished their were more acids in a few, but overall, these were the nicest PA wines I have tasted. The 2013 Riesling ($17) and 2012 Pinot Gris ($15) were my favorite whites and I think I'm beginning to come around to the later. I was even more impressed with the reds, which have been very inconsistent with my experience in Pennsylvania wine. Starting off, they produce a Lemberger ($20) - how cool is that. Their 2010 is medium bodied, nice acids, and a slightly spicy tail. Pretty good. This was followed by a 2009 Merlot ($20) - fruity and jammy and then the 2009 Proprietors Red ($25), a blend of the later with Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. This is a big wine, nice black fruit throughout with a smooth ending. Very nice.  I finished the tasting with the 2009 Cabernet Franc ($20) which was just as pleasant as one made in Virginia.  I think what makes these reds so nice, is that the winery ages them in the bottle for a few years before release. 

Take some time to stroll through Bedford as well. The Bedford Fort Museum is close by as well as several historic buildings. You can also learn about George Washington and the Whiskey Rebellion. Disputes like that never change. Cheers.

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