Christian W. Klay Winery Has Ideal Home in the Laurel Highlands
Sharon and John Klay searched for three years to find the ideal location for Christian W. Klay Winery. When they arrived upon a 215-acre farm in Chalk Hill, they knew they had found their ideal spot. Owner Sharon says, “My husband was looking for an elevation that would put us above the frost line. This farm was selected because of the elevation of 2,300 feet. The soil was perfect since grapes do not thrive in extremely fertile soil.” The experimental vineyard of 100 varieties found that European wine varieties, Vitis Vinifera, grew well in the soil, in addition to French-American and University-bred hybrids that tolerate cooler temperatures. Christian W. Klay Winery offers visitors a total wine experience, from vineyard to bottle, offering a taste of the region.
Plan Your Trip
Located in the Laurel Highlands, a stop at Christian W. Klay Winery, with its picturesque pond and 1800s barn, complements an itinerary filled with nearby activities, such as white water rafting at Ohiopyle, or a visit to Fort Necessity or Fallingwater. Tastings run every day, and the winery offers hour-and-a-half long tours for those interested in a more in-depth look into the process of winemaking. Prior to arriving at the vineyard, Sharon recommends scheduling a tour and checking the website ahead of time. It presents a number of events each month, including the Pavilion Music Series, which brings in local artists to perform. And, every Thursday evening, the winery hosts outdoor acrylic painting sessions from Liz Jones Arts.
Sharon, who is also the winemaker, likens her style of winemaking to creating a palette of colors for painting. “If you take the color straight out of the tube, it’s kind of boring, but if you blend another color into it, you get a richer, more exciting color,” she says. By growing so many different varietals, her hand was initially forced to do some blending. But, she found it to be advantageous to have pressings from more than one varietal in order to achieve a consistent taste from year to year, especially when the weather proved to be inconsistent. “It’s a unique winemaking style in that it really starts with my approach of being an artist, except instead of a paint palette, it’s the mouth palate,” she laughs. In order to appeal to a variety of palates, Sharon aims to produce a broad selection of wines, including everything from a dry white, to full bodied reds, to sweet and sparkling. She says, “Not only do men and women perceive things differently, but each individual has different numbers of taste buds. So, you want to make sure you’re able to find something for everybody. I think we do have the bases covered.”
Sharon recommends the winery’s Double Gold award-wining Lavender Mist. “It’s a semi-sweet wine infused with lavender flowers [grown on-site], with a very delicate flavor of lavender, and nose of lavender. People have been comparing it to Moscato,” she says.
Christian W. Klay Winery, 412 Fayette Springs Road, Chalk Hill. 724.439.3424. cwklaywinery.com.