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Courtyard Winery
by
Kathy Sullivan

Courtyard WinerySummary: Randy Graham, owner and winemaker, with his wife Laura, is enthusiastic about his winery and vineyards as well as what the North East, Pennsylvania wine region offers. Visitors to the winery will discover dry and sweet wines. The winery has a wine for any palate.

We met Randy Graham shortly after arriving at Courtyard Winery in North East, Pennsylvania. Randy and his wife Laura own Courtyard Winery. Randy took the time to take us on a tour of the North East wine region vineyards.

During the tour Randy took us to his favorite spot in the large vineyard which overlooks Lake Erie. He noted that with 5,000 acres of vineyards, this is the largest contiguous acreage of Vineyards east of the Rocky Mountains. The Courtyard vineyards are located on the edge of this contiguous region. About 85% of the vineyards are Concord. Randy also took us past the large Welch’s complex. He commented that it is beneficial for wineries to be in Welch’s backyard because the infrastructure, equipment and labor are readily available.

Courtyard Winery

The Courtyard Winery vineyards consist of 125 acres. The soil consists of sea sand. It is loose and fertile, making a a fantastic area for grapevines according to Randy. The vineyard includes microclimates. Some varieties planted are Riesling, Traminette, Chardonnay and Concord. New for 2019 is the Zweigelt grape. For the Courtyard wines, the winery sources about half of the grapes from local vineyards.

Courtyard WineryRandy’s Wine Story

Randy’s mother grew up on a local nearby grape farm. As an adult, Randy spent 15 years as an electrical engineer in California. While living and working in California, he was a consumer of wine. Randy would vacation in North East and enjoyed visiting the region. Eventually Randy and Laura, who was from California, decided to move to North East due in part to the life style in this part of Pennsylvania. Randy and Laura were looking for the right environment to raise a family. The couple also recognized the value of the land in North East, Pennsylvania compared to California.


Courtyard Winery Tasting Room

The large Courtyard tasting room is bright and cheerful. Arches add ambiance to the large room. The tasting room is unique in that there are two tasting counters. One tasting counter is designated for dry wines (pictured below left) and the second tasting counter is for sweet wines (pictured below right). Behind the dry wine tasting counter, a small, elegant room is available for small tastings. Randy used his wood making skills to create a lovely room. Current wine production is 8,000 cases. While tasting wines notice that all dry wines are sealed with natural corks; all sweet wines have screw caps.

Courtyard Winery     Courtyard Winery

Wines

The Courtyard Brut was 11% alcohol. This sparkling wine was produced with the Chardonel grape. The wine offered multiple columns of tiny bubbles that formed a central mousse on the wine’s surface. The aroma was of apple and citrus. The taste had a lively mouthfeel with some mineral on the aftertaste. Hint: Randy suggested, taking “a bigger sip than usual and let the burst of bubbles explode in your mouth.”

Chardonnay 2016 was 12.9% alcohol. The barrel fermented and aged wine was a light yellow color. The aroma was of oak and apple. The mouthfeel was velvety. The full-bodied wine had a caramel and apple taste. The finish very oaky with an appearance of apples.

Chardonel 2017 had 11.8% and was produced in stainless steel. The wine was a light yellow color. The aroma was of apple and citrus. The mouthfeel was silky with apple and citrus notes. The finish was crisp and fruity. This Chardonel is the winery’s top selling dry white wine.

Courtyard WineryTeroldego 2017 had 12.5% alcohol. This wine was made primarily with Teroldego but with an added splash of Merlot. The result was a wine that was a translucent dark ruby color. The aroma reminded one of a forest floor. The taste was earthy with cassis and blackberry notes. The medium-bodied wine offered medium tannins. The finish was fruity with an earthy background. Pairing suggested were grilled meats.

Zweigelt 2017 had 12.7% alcohol. The wine was a translucent ruby color. The aroma was of black fruit and the taste had blackberries. The medium-bodied wine had medium tannins. The finish was fruity with some earthiness on the aftertaste.

The last wine we tasted was the Twisted Red NV with 12.4% alcohol. The wine was a blend of Fredonia, De Chaunac with a splash of Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine was a translucent dark red/pink color. The residual sugar was 75 g/L. The wine’s aroma was reminiscent of a fruit cocktail. The silky mouthfeel had notes of raspberries and strawberry/rhubarb pie. The finish was crisp. This would be a good wine for enjoying in a rocking chair on the porch.

For Randy and Laura, Courtyard Winery is focused on producing exceptional dry wines and taking advantage of what this Lake Erie region can produce. In addition to producing dry wines, they produce some nice sweet wines.

When visiting North East, Pennsylvania plan to stop at Courtyard Winery where you will have the opportunity to taste dry and sweet wines.

Courtyard Winery
10021 West Main Road
North East, PA 16428

GPS: N42º 12.0882 W79º 52.2987

 

 

 

Article written May 2019.

 



 

          

 
 

 


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