Saturday, February 14, 2015

Nimble Hill Winery and Nimble Hill Brewing Company - Great Stuff! Good Times! (PA)

So, I went out to Scranton, Pennsylvania the other day to visit with my goof friend David Falchek. David is a big time wine guy in Pennsylvania and New York. He writes about local wines and covers the Finger Lakes as well. While I was out there, David took me to some of the better quality wine producers in and around Scranton. So the first place he took me was Nimble Hill Winery and Brewery...although, technically, I don't think they are allowed to promote them together because of PA alcohol walls. But I am currently inn New York, so to hell with it, let 'em come and get me.
Nimble Hill opened in 2007 with a production of more than three thousand gallons of wine. Winemaker Kevin Durland takes a minimalist approach to winemaking, letting the grapes and fermentation process take the wine where it wants to go. The grapes for their wines are sourced from different areas of Pennsylvania including Mehoopany, Tunkhannock, Dushore, and West Chester. We also source some grapes from the North Fork of Long Island.
Gary Toczko
The Winery is owned by Gary and Ellie Toczko and is the definition of a "family" winery. The Toczko’s have four children, daughter Mya, and triplets, Maggie, Haley (daughters), and Jacob (son). The family also includes Jillian, a golden retriever that likes to eat grape skins and help in the vineyard. Gary and Ellie opened the winery to have a business where they can work with and alongside their family, whether it be tending vines, crushing grapes, making wine, or minding the tasting room in Tunkhannock.

Gary could not have been a kinder host. With a cool grin and an easy manner, he is charming and funny. He can talk wine and grapes if you want, some good stories, and a fine palate. I liked him instantly. He's the kind of guy, if you were starting a wine trail, you'd what at least two or three clones of him. He'd be a credit in PA or CA...or anywhere else.
David Falchek writes a weekly wine column for several newspapers in Pennsylvania, including the Scranton Times-Tribune.  Like many wine drinkers who grew up in Northeastern Pennsylvania, David started out drinking Boone's Farms in abandoned coal breakers and sneaking sips of Riuniti at family picnics. He lived in the Finger Lakes wine region in the 1990s, discovered fine wine, and began regular coverage of the wine industry.

In addition to writing for Appellation America, David contributes regularly to trade publications such as Vineyard & Winery Management and Beverage Media and irregularly to several others. David has judged regional, national, and international wine competitions where he likes to think he lauds outstanding Seyval or Foch just as readily as Cabernet or Riesling. David is an active member of the American Wine Society. Often asked his favorite wine, his reply is the same: "The one in my glass."
OK, now that the bio is out of the way, I can say this - I like David a lot! Great guy! We've had a lot of fun. We talk politics, news, and a lot about local wine. We never fail to have a chuckle while we're together, interspersed with serious conversations. Love seeing him and his lovely wife.

I had never been to the Endless Mountains are, a newly burgeoning wine region, which has really sprung up with some force in the last 7-10 years. So I really didn't know what to expect, except that I knew Mr. Falchek's standards are pretty high, so I knew I would be seeing something worthwhile.

OK, on to the wine!

One of the biggest surprises of the entire day was the absolutely first wine I tried. This wine was made using 100% Wyoming County fruit from Nimble Hill Vineyards. A great nose belied a lovely wine. Bright acidity, a nice minerality, explosive fresh citrus, and a touch of grapefruit and white pepper at the end. This was a fantastic wine! Elegant, well balanced, fabulous layers of flavors. This was one of my favorite wines of the entire trip! One of the best East Coast Gruners I have ever had! Amazing! 

The Nimble Hill Dry Riesling 2013 is made from 100% Pennsylvania fruit. I was very excited to try it. Green nose of green apple, peach, apricot, and tropical fruit and citrus. While the green apple was always there, what actually dominated the wine were the fresh, fresh peach and apricot. And a nice zesty finish. Wonderful!

One of the wine not pictured here, was also among my favorites also, the Nimble Hill Pinot Grigio 2013! A big, aromatic wine, yet, light and dances on the palate. Big citrus highlights. Zippy and refreshing. A wonderful Pinot Grigio! The Gewurztraminer 2013 was made from Finger Lakes fruit and was also quite pretty.

The Nimble Hill Cabernet Franc 2013 was a lovely and well balanced dry red, which displayed bright, ripe cherry and hints of plum. Nice layers.

I remain cautious in my praise of any Lemberger, but the Nimble Hill Lemberger 2012 was among the most promising varietal wines of this type I have tasted yet. This is a lovely, bright, Burgundian-style dry red made from this grape. Big, bright cherry, balanced with zippy acidity kept the flavors fresh and long lasting in the mouth. The grapes for the wine came from the winery's Sugar Hollow Vineyard. One of the better Lembergers made on the East Coast! Amazing!

The Nimble Hill Merlot 2011 was also a very nice table red. Well balance, nice fruit, good, tannins at the end, makes for a lovely table red ready for heavier meals. Very nice.

The Nimble Hill Late Harvest Frontenac Gris 2013 was an absolute shock! This estate late harvest wine was spectacular! The Frontenac Gris was an exciting choice for a late harvest-styled wine. The acidity of the Frontenac Gris was an excellent concept. It keeps the wine honest. The sugar was nice, and sexy, but the acidity kept it rom becoming a lollipop. It was a big fruit bomb of pineapple and grapefruit, mixed with a blend of praline (thanks David Falchek) and fresh apricots. A spectacular wine!!!! Not big and unctuous but light and flavorful! Impressive!!!  
I was absolutely impressed with the finesse and deftness that Kevin crafts the wines of Nimble Hill. Their best wines immediately establish them as a winery that can compete with the better wineries in the state. This is a very nice winery with people who make a ide range of wines for the many different visitors, but who have a passion for fine wine. A very exciting place for PA wine fans o following the up-coming years!


Nimble Hill Brewing Company believes that quality ingredients make a great tasting beer! Nimble Hill Winery and Vineyard owner Gary Toczko and Brewmaster Mike Simmons hope to make the Endless Mountains a brewing mecca along with other micro-breweries that have sprung up in the valley, as there had been a history of many breweries back in the late 1800's and early 1900's. They are a 15-barrel farm style brewery  producing  beer in 12 ounce bottles, 1/6 kegs and specialty 750ML bottles.
“We have a good product, but a main sales proposition is that it is local,” Gary said. “When we call on a place, we have the winemaker, the brewmaster, and the owner offering local products.”
I really liked the Flinke Hugel, which is dominated by the German yeast, which according to Nimble Hill is the star in this beer. But there is a solid malt presence as well. This is a golden, slightly sweet, malty lager which is immediately why I liked it. More and more, I  an joining the ranks of those kind of tired of the hops madness. In fact, I liked it immediate for it's lack of DOMINATING hops. Flinke Hügel is German for Nimble Hill! Loved it. A great, easy drinking beer.
I was equally thrilled with Hop Bottom, Nimble Hill's IPA. This beer features 9 additions of Cascade and Centennial hops, and rich crystal malts to balance the bitterness. There is a nice, pronounced citrus peel appeal to this beer. It's enough to let you know, like a slap in the face, that the hops are there right up front. But it's not a double or triple IPA. No, it's a good drinking IPA. Which is again why I liked it. It's not a hop monster, but a well crafted, well balanced beer. Really great stuff.
Another beer I liked was Mysteria 5.0 which is one of their most popular beers. It's a Triple IPA made from Nimble Hill's estate grown Centennial and Cascade hops! The hops are added immediately after picking. Big, big citrus hammer to the mouth. Watch out teeth, because it hits hard. That said, it was a delightful beer. Smelled absolutely awesome. Great taste. Still light and quaffable, it was not just an over hopped beer, but a very well balanced beer that exhibited complexity and layers of flavors. Impressive. 

Nimble Hill Turbo Diesel was easily my favorite. But I like big, dark porters and stouts. This stuff pours like molasses. Bug, dark, glug, glug, glug. A dark, cappuccino late head, gives was, after some nice lace, to a lovely, maple syrup, coffee and toffee body. The beer is aged in port wine barrels.

I really like Nimble Hill Brewing Company for all the things is wasn't. Nimble Hill isn't trying to achieve immortal beer geek fame by grotesque pyrotechnics. These aren't beers made to be stored in your beer cellar. They are made to be drunk. They are great food beers.  Of course, I must admit my own hypocrisy right here, because I loved the Turbo and Mysteria 5.0 which represent geekdom for sure...LOL. I loved Nimble Hill Brewing Company.

Have to say, my visit to Nimble Hill Winery and Nimble Hill Brewing Company was an exciting experience and a great find!!! You need to go to the Endless Mountains and have yourself a great time. And tell Gary I said hi!