Blue Mountain Vineyards debuts newest wines
The harvest is in but the work is not over, not for Joe Greff, a Staten Island native, and his wife, Vickie, owners of Blue Mountain Vineyards, New Tripoli.
Greff explained that Nouveau wines (bottled the same year as harvested) are “bottled very young with little barrel aging,” resulting in “light, fruity and semi-dry to dry red wines.”
By all accounts, the Lehigh Valley is Pennsylvania’s fastest growing wine region and no one knows that more than Greff.
He and his wife started the winery 31 years ago with five acres.
“Pennsylvania was a beer drinking state but a lot more consumers are now drinking wine,” Greff said. “The industry is starting to grow now especially with the changes in the law permitting supermarkets to carry wine.”
Greff said they ship to many states across the country, including California.
“These wines are very much European, [notably] French, with a lot of fruit [in] different styles and types of wine,” he explained. “We recently filled our first wine order from China, a dry one. It was shipped to Shanghai.
“The group that bought [the wine] live in New Jersey. They’ve been here a couple of times and that’s how it started.”
Blue Mountain is busy year-round.
“We finished harvest between the end of September through the first three weeks of October,” Greff said. “We hand pick everything.
“By waiting to the last possible minute to harvest, you get more color in the grapes and more color means more flavor,” said Greff, who admits he’s become a bit of a weather nut. “We have to plan as much as we can.”
The Greffs are proud of their established vineyards.
“The older vines produce good quality fruit if you take care of them, [unlike] the young vines which don’t,” Greff explained. “[What is key] in [achieving] quality is in the vineyards.”
Blue Mountain grows European grapes, primarily, French hybrid Chambourcin, (the Valley’s signature grape), Riesling, chardonnay, merlot, cabernet and petite shiraz.
“That’s some of them,” Greff said. “We have a total of 14 varietals grown on 50 acres.”
Greff stresses quality and no shortcuts.
“It doesn’t matter if we’re making wine for basically everyone,” he said. “I’m proud of all my wines but the one I’m most proudest of is the ’95 merlot. It [earned] an international gold medal at the Eastern International held at Lake Seneca,” he said.
Blue Mountain wines have continued to be noticed.
“Each year, we release the petit shiraz, it gets a gold medal. We average a couple of gold and silver medals every year,” Greff said. “This is no easy feat since weather is a huge factor and an early freeze kills the buds.”
Greff also prides himself on using low levels of preservatives.
“We use the lowest on the East Coast which means two things: less chance of a headache and you taste the fruit more,” Greff stated.
He wants to expand operations in the future.
“We have 20 acres at Leaser Lake. Long-term we want to add on another 40,” he said.
Though the winery is open nearly every day, the weekends are the busiest times.
“Every Sunday, we have music and we have many events on Saturday,” Greff stated. “We do a lot of fun things with music. Patrons can buy a glass of wine, and though we’re not a restaurant, crudités are available.”
For those who are not wine connoisseurs, there’s a lot to learn and Greff is up to the task.
“We do tastings and we explain what they’re getting and provide information,” he said.
“We do a lot of tours at the winery for [many] people from New York City and from various states. People have been coming here for years. We have a friendly atmosphere conducive to relaxing. We want you to enjoy yourself.”