Clover Hill Vineyards & Winery
Kathy and Terry Sullivan
Clover Hill Vineyards and Winery began on property purchased by John Jr. and Pat Skrip at an auction in 1975. Pat, a schoolteacher, and John Jr., a construction company owner, had an idea to start a Christmas tree farm. Shortly before starting the tree farm, the Skrips went on vacation to Florida. On the way to Florida, they saw a recently published magazine article about growing wine grapes on the east coast. From that moment, John, Jr. spent the remainder of his vacation reading everything he could find about wine. Arriving back from vacation, the tree farm was out of the picture and planting a vineyard was in their plans.
In 1976, the Skrips planted the first vines. When these vines began producing, the grapes were sold to wineries. By 1985, John Jr. decided to sell his construction company and put the money into a winery operation. In September 1985, Clover Hill opened with a production of 1,000 gallons. Last year the winery produced 63,000 gallons of wine (about 26,500 cases). Today Clover Hill has vineyards in the area with 60 to 70 acres producing grapes. Clover Hill Vineyards and Winery is one of Pennsylvania’s largest wineries. The second-generation family, Kari and John III, are deeply involved with the winery. John III is the winemaker and Kari whose expertise is marketing, works in all areas of the winery and wherever she is needed. John III’s children help their dad around the winery. Perhaps the family-run winery will see a third generation running it in the future.
Kari took time from her busy schedule to take us on a guided tour of the winery and conveyed the history and future hopes for Clover Hill. We walked through several large sections that house the winery. She proudly pointed out the unique and excellent filtering machine that John III helped to invent with Koch Membrane System. Kari was pleased with the reaction of the public to the new filtering machine. The filtering machine was on display at a trade show in California with the words Clover Hill Vineyards and Winery in Pennsylvania credited. This particular machine does not remove flavor or color from the wine as it filters.
A short stroll from the winery is the vineyards. Row upon row of grapevines extend as far as the eye can see. August is a great time of year to visit a vineyard. You can observe the berries on the vines and see the differences between different grape varieties.
Approaching the Clover Hill tasting room, the architecture of the building is eye catching. With seating outside, and elegant styling of the building a sense of welcoming is felt before entering the tasting room. The style of the building is eclectic. Kari’s parents selected several photos of wineries from around the world they liked and worked with an architect to create the present design. Once inside the tasting room the dark polished wood declares sophistication. The lines of the tasting bar add to the elegant nature of the winery.
While we tasted several Clover Hill wines, we learned that their top selling red is Concord and the top selling white is Riesling. The Pinot Grigio is made in an Italian style and has a nice yellow color and a good acid fruit balance. The Riesling has a slight mineral bouquet with a light to medium body. The fruit flavor is not over powering and it is crisp on the finish. The Vignoles is sweet and a great sipping wine or can be used as a dessert wine. Dolcetto Rosé is produced with the Dolcetto grape. It is dry with a fruit flavor and dry on the aftertaste. Catawba is very sweet with a taste of sugar on the aftertaste. Sangiovese has a balance of fruit, acid and tannins. Concord has a sweet fruit aftertaste. Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 has a red fruit bouquet with a fruit flavor on the taste and the fruit lingers on the aftertaste. Blueberry has a fruit bouquet, is medium-bodied with a sweet taste and dry aftertaste. Generations is produced for/by the second generation of the family to work at the vineyard and winery. Generations Merlot has a fruit bouquet with fruit taste. This wine has a higher alcohol on the taste and a fruit aftertaste. It has just been bottled and the suggestion is to let it age for six months for a smoother taste.
In the same area of the tasting room is a very large area displaying wine accessories and unique gifts. Whether you are looking for a gift for the serious wine connoisseur or a fun loving wine taster, you are sure to find the right gift. The large selection of wine bottle holders will bring smiles to your faces. Traditional wine bottle holders are available as well as comical holders. Are you looking for special glassware? Browse the selection of Romanian hand-etched glass. You will enjoy the gift area as much as the wine tasting.
Above the tasting room are several smaller rooms for hosting meetings. A circular staircase leads to a small observatory where one can view the vineyards from all sides. Plenty of space is available for small and large group events. The largest room has its own tasting bar.
Plan to spend several hours at Clover Hill Vineyards and Winery. Take the time to taste the wines and meander through the well-equipped gift section. Have a picnic lunch with your favorite Clover Hill wine and feast on the quiet beauty of the vineyard.
Clover Hill Winery and Vineyard
GPS: N 40° 33.000’ W075° 39.585’
Local lodging: Hilton Garden Inn, Allentown West
Visit this Pennsylvania Winery and Wine & Fruit Trail that partner with Wine Trail Traveler.