Greendance Winery is Choice Destination in Sand Hill
Celebrating its seventh anniversary this year, Greendance Winery at Sand Hill has grown into a destination with beautiful grounds sprawling across the 120-acre farm, grazing farm animals, sweet smells wafting from the bakery, and, of course, a wide range of delectable wines. The winery started with a specific vision in mind for the farm that has evolved over the years. Richard Lynn, a partner who oversees the vineyard, says, “As a small fruits and apple farm, we originally aspired to making very interesting fruit wines, but we have since additionally dedicated ourselves to optimizing the strengths of French hybrid grapes that can flourish in our often severe Appalachian foothills climate. This past winter was a true test of bud strength — primary fruit bud emergence from the varieties we grow has resulted in a nearly perfect amount of shoots for an optimal harvest.”
Plan Your Trip
Less than an hour outside of Pittsburgh, Greendance Winery makes for an entertaining day trip. Fridays through mid-August, the winery features a special themed menu from Elegant Catering and a late night concert in the garden. Opt for a picnic in the Apple Orchard or sandwiches, salads, meats, and cheeses from the winery in the Nectar Garden on Saturday and Sunday afternoons through October, where visitors can also find live, outdoor music. Discover your personal preferences at the Tasting Bar, open every day for complimentary tasting, where anywhere from six to eight reds, several whites, and six to 12 fruit wines are on rotation for tasting. Before heading home, be sure to check out adjacent Sand Hill Berries, for a light meal at its Cabin Café and take-home goodies like fresh fruit, jams, and baked goods. The staff relishes in seeing the same customers return time and time again, in addition to those who saw the sign on the highway, stopped on a whim, and stumbled across a treasure. “Wineries have become a choice destination for Sunday afternoon relaxation. And, it’s lovely because that’s exactly what they can do in our garden,” says Diane Dilworth, tasting room manager. “It’s private, but yet there are still people; it’s a really intimate setting.”
Winemaker Walt Vinoski describes the vineyard’s terroir as chalky, and filled with limestone and mineral content. “In some areas, you can grow in extremely rocky conditions, like in the limestone. You let the roots attach and the vines struggle, but it makes great wine,” he says. Generally, Greendance produces new world style wines from Vitis Labrusca grapes. The fruit wines, though, made from red currants and raspberries for example, are some of Greendance’s most unique offerings. Working to preserve the original taste of the fruit, Vinoski adds minimal sugar and ferments at a cool temperature. He says, “You’ll notice right away that the wine is not sweeter than the fruit itself. It’s a little bit ‘bite-y.’ It has that acidic nip that hits at the back of the tongue just like the fruit.”
Vinoski proposes a number of wines to drink during this season, depending on the time of day and accompanying food. For an August evening, he says, “The flavors and aromas of the Reserve 2008 will fill every part of the palate.” But, during the day, he suggests the Isabella or the Gewürztraminer to pair with light tapas. For dessert, finish the evening with one of Greendance’s pies, fruit cake, or cheesecake with a sweet glass of fruit or dessert wine.
Walt Vinoski’s pairing tip: “The general rule with pairings is that the wines should have the same amount of weight as what you’re eating.”
Greendance Winery, 306 Deer Field Road, Mt. Pleasant. 724.547.6500. greendancewinery.com.