Owner(s): Gino Razzi
Winemaker: Gino Razzi
Open to Public
Mon-Thu 12 to 5:30; Fri-Sat 11 to 6; Sun 11 to 5
124 Beaver Valley Road, Chadds Ford, Pa 19317
Penns Woods Winery Profile
Written by Brian—Mar 11, 2015
I have visited and written about hundreds of wineries, but my visit to Penns Woods was singular in every respect. According to American Winery Guide, it is one of the 222 Pennsylvania wineries, but it stands out among that number. It has been my understanding that the quality of wine in the Keystone State is spotty, but I had it on good authority that Penns Woods was making quality wine. Well, that is probably a slight understatement.
I was headed up to the area to film a video along with Marc Supsic of Wine Living for another project. It was Marc, who turned me on to Penns Woods, which is just a few miles south of Philadelphia. We met at the winery, which does not share the same property with the tasting room. Winemaker/owner Gino Razzi, his daughter Carley and the assistant winemakers were all on hand to meet us and answer questions. It’s a team that is doing amazing things to elevate the reputation of Pennsylvania wine. Gino and Carley are playing key roles in that campaign.
Gino supplies the vision and a great deal of the winemaking passion. He was born in Abruzzo, Italy, grew up around wine and learned to make wine at an early age. After moving to the United States and serving in the Marine Corps, Gino started a successful wine import business. For a time, his passion for winemaking was pursued as little more than a serious hobby. Of course, that’s how it often starts. Gino soon began to realize the potential for Pennsylvania wine and took the next step. Today, Penns Woods is one of the state’s premier boutique wineries producing about 3500 cases annually.
I was able to sample about a half-dozen Penns Woods wines during my visit. All of the whites were uniformly excellent and all were gold-medal winners. The Chardonnay was a particular standout and demonstrated all the best qualities of that varietal. I will say, however, that later in the day I tried the Traminette. Traminette is a Gewürztraminer hybrid, that is grown widely throughout the eastern United States. Its beautiful floral and tropical notes and hints of spice lend it well to the making of quality wine. I recently tasted a Traminette that was selected as the best Ohio wine of 2012. I think the Penns Woods example may be superior. I’ll do a blind tasting and report more on this in a later post.
We also sampled a handful of red wines. Penns Woods makes a Chambourcin that is a gold-medal winner and a wine to write home about. I’ve tasted many Virginia examples and this one will stand up to the very best. Gino also opened a 2005 Meritage from his wine library. It was full of dark fruit, with hints of chocolate, soft tannins and a finish that just went on forever. This was an offering made from the old-growth Penns Woods fruit and demonstrated that the wines have aging potential.
If Gino is the driving force behind the production of award-winning wines, his daughter Carley has been equally influential in molding the tasting room and customer experience. She took the old farmhouse that sits on the thirty-acre vineyard property and transformed it into a well-decorated and very comfortable tasting space. The rooms have been filled with tables and the back porch was windowed in and now accommodates live music in addition to guests. The Penns Woods calendar is full of special events for both adults and families. The tasting staff is not comprised of college students reciting a tasting script, Carley has organized a group of regular, long-standing wine stewards, who are knowledgeable and customer oriented. Everything about the operation is first rate.
There are plans afoot to build a new and larger tasting room. Based on the throng that was assembled during my visit, more space is necessary. The existing building will be pressed into service as a special event center and Carley has even bigger plans for the future.
I could go on at greater length singing the praises of Penns Woods. I do believe they are setting the bar for Pennsylvania wine and represent the future of that region. I am excited to do a little more exploring in this area, but I’ll definitely return to Penns Woods. If you are anywhere in the area or happen to be visiting Philadephia, you should make it a point to stop in. When you do, I’d love to hear what you think.