Sunday, March 8, 2020

The Susquehanna Heartland Spring Fling Wine Tour

March is the Susquehanna Heartland Wine Tour Spring Fling.
For $20 you receive a wine glass, a coupon book, tastings at each of the 16 wineries, and during the event, most of the wineries are offering soups and or snacks to ticket holders.
The event lasts all month long, which is really great, because these wineries are located Lewisburg to State College, from Sunbury to Hegins.  It will take us several trips to make it to all of them.  

  • Be sure to get your scavenger hunt paper at the first stop, and know that each winery has to STAMP that paper.  We didn't get the paper until our second stop, and didn't realize they had to be stamped, just finding the answer and writing it in is not enough. (this is in addition to having your ticket stamped at each stop)
  • Ask which wines are made with grapes the wineries grow themselves.  It was interesting to hear about what each winery grows, and for us, tasting those wines was what we were most interested in.
  • I have a map here of the winery locations, with the extra "sights to see" marked 
  • Fill your gas tank.  There are large sections of this tour where you will be driving through beautiful country, but not past a lot of gas stations.

Week One - The South Eastern Section
Red Shale Ridge, Benignas, Broad Mountain, Armstrong, Buddy Boy, & Hunter Valley

On the first week-end in March, we headed out on Sunday.  Each wineries hours are different, so be sure to check before planing your route.  We drove right past Spyglass Ridge in Sunbury for this trip, because we wanted to head out pretty early to catch some geocaches, and it's close enough that we can visit that one easily any day.  But if you aren't trying to fit quite as much into one trip, you could visit Spyglass on this route too!

While doing this loop of the trip, we hiked to Swatara Falls, Visited the Old Sled Works in Duncanon (what a fun place!) and did the gadget geocaches in Hegins.  (If you are a geocacher, be sure to check those out - WELL done gadget caches!)  We also saw the old army jeep, and the purple pump, along the way.  

Our Planned Itinerary:

Call To Duty (Army Jeep)
Purple Pump 
Hegins Gadget Geocaches
Swatara Falls

Red Shale Ridge Winery in Hegins Opens At Noon
Beningas opens at 1 -  20 minute drive to Broad Mountain
Broad Mountain Winery 10 minute drive to Armstrong
Armstrong Valley Winery 15 minutes to the sled works
Old Sled Works  10 minute drive to Buddy Boy
Buddy Boy Winery 20 minute drive to Hunters Valley
Hunter Valley Winery 

If we had skipped the sled works, we could have made it to Shade Mountain on the way home.  But I really recommend not skipping the Sled Works, if you have never been there!  Walk in the door, go left, and check out the old arcade and soda shop in the back.  This was SUCH a neat stop!  It's not part of the actual wine tour of course, but you will be so close if you are visiting these wineries.

Red Shale Ridge Winery

Red Shale Ridge Winery was our first stop. Located in the basement of a house, it was the smallest of the wineries we visited today.  The owner is very nice, and knowledgeable, it was a great start to our tour.  There's also a gadget cache at this winery!

The gadget cache at Red Shale Winery, and one of the many wine tour signs

Benigna's Creek
 Begigna's Creek had a display with food pairings.  The week-end's theme for the tour was Red Wines, and they had a special for 4 for $40 on their featured reds.

 There's a deck off the back of Benigna's, with an incredible view!

Tables in Benigna's - this is a really nice event space.

Broad Mountain Winery
Broad Mountain had a tasting table set up right inside the door, then you could go on in for cider tastings, and there were crock pots with meatballs, little smokies, and they had some wonderful dark chocolate that paired well with the red wine!

Cider tasting.  They have a birch beer cider that we were pretty excited about - we love birch beer!

The windows at Broad Mountain.  On the left is what you see outside, on the right is how it looks inside, with the light coming through the bottles.  I loved this!

Armstrong Valley Winery
Armstrong is a large winery.  They had sweet wine tastings on the left of the room, and the dry red wines that I love on the right side.  In the middle they had a vendor with smoked cheeses and bologna that I really recommend - we bought a few, they were all so good!

In the back room was a crock pot full of soup for ticket holders, and there were signs telling about the winery's connection to the Underground Railroad.

The Old Sled Works
 Not part of the winery tour, but such a fun stop!  In the back is a great old arcade, and an old fashioned soda fountain - we had cream sodas here.    

Buddy Boy Winery

Buddy Boy Winery is a smaller winery, but what a great place!  They sell food, as well as wine.  Wine tour participants were offered Beef vegetable soup on the tour that first week-end, and it was REALLY good soup!
They do wood fired bone in ribeyes on the 3rd Sunday, and have a smoked mac and cheese.  It's a bit of a drive for us, but we definitely plan to go back to try that ribeye!

Hunters Valley
 It had been years since we have visited Hunters Valley, and we were surprised to see the new building.  It's gorgeous!  There is a large deck outside, and they can accommodate buses up here.

And they have the absolute best tasting set up.  You fill out your paper, and they bring a flight to your table.  This is such a great way to do a tasting!

Six wineries visited, ten to go!
Week Two - Spyglass Ridge Winery
This was a busy week-end for us, but we were headed to the Joseph Priestly House for Charter Day (free admission, and I wanted to try the fizzy water).  So we had time to make the quick trip to Spyglass Ridge in Sunbury.
 What a beautiful event space!  
At all of the wineries we had visited so far, tastings included 5 selections. Here you choose three. They do have a few beers on tap  here too.
They had the Grilled Cheese Cafe Food truck parked outside.  This is one of our favorite food trucks, but we had other lunch plans this day.

Seven Wineries visited, Nine to go!

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