Saturday, December 17, 2011

Patriot-News Highlights New Pennsylvania Winery: Hunters Valley

Add another winery -- Hunters Valley -- to 25-year club
Published: Friday, December 16, 2011, 7:21 AM
Updated: Friday, December 16, 2011, 8:09 AM
By PAUL VIGNA, The Patriot-News

Hunters Valley Winery opened in 1986 along routes 11/15. Now it sits on a hilltop overlooking the Susquehanna.

The region recently has seen a couple of wineries celebrate 25 years, the most recent Hunters Valley Winery in Liverpool, Pa., that sits along routes 11/15 as it winds its way up to Selinsgove.

Darlene and Billk Kvaternik, according to a story in the Newport News-Sun, cleared out a plot of land that used to be a free-range chicken farm on a hillside overlooking the Susquehanna River in 1981 and began growing grapes. For a few years they sold those to home winemakers and made their own wine. Like a number of wineries in both Pennsylvania and Maryland, that hobby turned into a business and the winery was born in 1986 inside a former chick hatchery behind a historic log farmhouse that sits along the highway.

Asked if she remembered what wines they sold that first year, Darlene rattled off the list like it was a lot more recently than 25 years. Niagara, she said. Concord, Berry Mountain Red (a blend of Chancellor and Baco Noir), Chardonnay and Seyval. You can find all those and a dozen others on Hunters Valley's wine list today, showing that they knew what they were doing when they started planting those grapes 30 years ago.

For one, sweeter wines are as important today as they were back then.

"I think many wineries would tell you that to succeed in central Pennsylvania, you have to have some sweet wines on your list," she said. "We do make four really nice dry reds, but I would hate to gt along without the Niagara and the Concord." She noted they also produce a number of fruit wines, including cranberry, blueberry, strawberry and raspberry, all of those, of course, quite sweet. "Especially at this time of year, you know, we get a lot of people who maybe don't drink wine all year long, and they come in and say, 'I want the sweet ones, Where are the sweet ones?' " She laughed aloud. "And for that reason I actually have my wine list done kind of opposite to what most wineries do. I put the sweet ones right up there at the top so that people can find them. I figure the people who want dry wines can spend a minute and look to the bottom of the page."

One thing that distinguishes the winery from most in this region are the number of 1.5 liter bottles it makes available on more than a half-dozen of its wines, including the Riesling and the Concord. Darlene said they've been offering those for 20 years. "We tend to listen to our customers," she said, " and a lot of customers would come in and say 'we'd like it in a bigger bottle.' So, OK, we bought some bigger bottles. And, because we still bottle by hand, that's not such a big problem for us. A lot of the newer wineries have bottling lines, so making a smaller bottle or a bigger bottle I'm sure is more of an investment of time."

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