Vineyard visits turn out to be remarkably pandemic-friendly: Bring along lawn chairs and blankets and set up on a patch of grass in view of the grapevines. Let the winery provide the drinks and snacks (and in some rare cases, full meals). Now that the region’s once-budding vineyards and vines have come into their own, there’s no better time to drink up.
Penns Woods is one of the closest to Philadelphia — its Chadds Ford vineyard at 124 Beaver Valley Rd. is about 40 minutes from Center City — but day-tripping oenophiles have many options.
Here are 10 top-notch Pennsylvania and South Jersey wineries open for visits. Listed from closest to furthest, all are less than a two-hour drive from downtown Philly.
Tours and tastings currently are by reservation only as this Fort Washington winery. It is still in the process of building a large, full-on tasting room on its estate. For now, visits are intimate and set on a balcony overlooking the vineyard. Keep an eye on Instagram (@karamoorestate) for dates and special events, which frequently feature full-on tasting menus from local restaurants.
40 E. Skippack Pike, Fort Washington, 215-643-5800, karamoorwines.com
Ring around the fire pit at this Atlantic County winery, known for its award-winning chardonnay, riesling, vignoles, and cabernet franc. Reservations are required, but the winery is open daily and has a full menu of flatbreads, small plates, and salads. Guests have room to spread out on the patio and the lawn.
370 S. Egg Harbor Rd., Hammonton, N.J., 609-567-9463, sharrottwinery.com
One of the guiding principles for this Camden County farm winery, established in the ’70s, has been to plant the grapes that grow best in New Jersey’s climate and soil. The result is some of the finest local cabernet (sauvignon and franc) around. It’s first come, first serve for tastings and outdoor seating, so get there early.
209 Vineyard Rd., Atco, N.J., 856-768-8585, amaltheacellars.com
There’s indoor and outdoor seating aplenty at this Bucks County winery, which often hosts live music, pairing events, and yoga sessions. Make a reservation if you’d like a guided tasting, which starts at a very reasonable $20 for 10 wines. Beer and cocktails are available, too.
1853 Wrightstown Rd., Newtown, 215-493-6500, crossingvineyards.com
A stone’s throw from Longwood Gardens, this Chester County winery is keeping its rustic tasting room off-limits for now, but guests on its main deck enjoy views of its Red Lion chardonnay vineyard. Want to spend the night? There’s a stone cottage on the estate that’s available on Airbnb.
700 Folly Hill Rd., Kennett Square, 484-899-8013, galerestate.com
The grüner veltliner here has picked up national awards, but it also takes pride in its dandelion wine, made from a family recipe passed down through the generations that have tended to this vegetable farm-turned-winery. Make a reservation for one of a 30-by-30 foot square of its lawn. Tastings and pairings are on hold during the pandemic, but you can still get a bottle — or a growler of any wine on tap.
150 Atlantic St., Landisville, N.J., 856-697-7172, bellviewwinery.com
One of Pennsylvania’s most celebrated wineries, this family farm specializes in “field blends,” made from the grape varietals that grow best in different parts of the single-hill vineyard. As you might expect, it’s small, so there’s limited space (especially now) in the “little back yard” where guests can enjoy wine and food on the weekends. Reservations are a must.
8820 Gap Newport Pike, Avondale, 610-268-2702, valavineyards.com
Snag a picnic table outside after you enjoy a tasting at this picturesque Berks County vineyard, marked by a big red barn which is used for warm-weather events. The wines here — traminette, vidal blanc, chambourcin, and more — are good enough to grace well-regarded wine lists downtown, but you wouldn’t know it by the prices: Pinnacle Ridge bottles seldom exceed $20.
407 Old U.S. 22, Kutztown, 610-756-4481, pinridge.com
Formerly known as Blair Vineyards, this Berks County spot rebranded to expand distribution — and honored its long-standing tradition of raising English setters in the process. Pinot noir, aged in French oak, has been the winemaker’s obsession here (the grape makes its way into white and rose varietals, too), but it also produces excellent whites, much like its neighbors in Lehigh Valley.
99 Dietrich Valley Rd., Kutztown, 610-683-8463, setterridgevineyards.com
The grüner veltliners, gewürtztraminers, and mineraly rieslings from this family operation in Schuylkill County win high praises nationally. The scenic vistas from the winery — located at the top of a 1,000-foot-high ridge in the Lehigh Valley — are pretty good, too. Seating on the open-air pavilion and the patio is limited and there are no reservations, but seatings are capped to an hour and a half to share the love.
255 Winter Mountain Dr., Andreas, 570-386-3682, galenglen.com