Pittsburgh is not known to be a wine capital in the US, let alone a highlight in the region, but that isn't stopping local brewers and wine makers from producing some pretty incredible beverages. That is enough to get us excited, and we're on a quest to find the gems that are worth your time.
When it comes to wineries in Pittsburgh, many go beyond the standard batch of fermented grapes to produce something completely unique. The following are some of the best that we have tried so far.
Note: This guide features cider houses and meaderies in addition to traditional grape-based wineries.
Pittsburgh Winery in the Strip District
Wine in the region is interesting as the weather patterns and soil quality allows for only select grapes to grow. Often, the best wines to come out of this region are sweet wines made from sugar-rich grapes like Concord or Niagara. While delicious in their own right, these grapes are not going to be put Pennsylvania winemakers on the map any time soon.
Our first thought of Pittsburgh Winery was that they were going to be much like this; however, our thoughts soon changed (for the worse) when we found out they import their grapes from the major wine regions from around the world. Something about this concept didn't sit well with us as we never had good experiences at wineries that don't grow their own grapes.
Luckily all doubts were removed the second we tried a sampler of the wines that were currently available- they all were delicious. In fact, the wine is so good that they would hold up to competitors who produce wine in the grape's point of origin- a feat that is hard enough for any winemaker, let alone one thousands of miles from where the grape was grown.
Tasting trays at Pittsburgh Winery are roughly $10; however, there is no fee if you purchase a bottle (~$18 on up). Naturally, we're planning on leaving with a bottle after every visit.
Pittsburgh Winery is located at 2815 Penn Avenue in the Strip District.
Arsenal Cider House in Lawrenceville
As their name suggests, Arsenal Cider House in Lawrenceville is all about cider- the delicious beverage that comes as the result of fermenting apples. Since being founded just a few years ago, Arsenal Cider House has grown from a collection of just a few ciders and honey mead to an impressive array of flavored ciders and wines with sour cherry and blueberry being some of our favorites.
It may sound a bit gimmicky to order a flavored cider (those into the wine scene know how much regional breweries love to turn every fruit under the sun into a wine), but give the ones at Arsenal Cider House a chance as we have come to enjoy the flavored varieties far more than their standard offering.
With roughly ten flavors to choose from (and a killer wine sorbet), odds are good that Arsenal Cider House will have a flavor that you'll enjoy.
Arsenal Cider House is located at 300 39th Street in Lawrenceville. Arsenal Cider House has a second taproom at Soergel's Orchard in Wexford.
Threadbare Cider House in the North Side
Pittsburgh is home to a second cider house, Threadbare, located in the North Side. This one is the brain child of the folks at Wigle Whiskey and is an homage to Johnny Appleseed who was said to have lived in the region during the famous Whiskey Rebellion.
Threadbare uses locally sourced apples to make an array of ciders from dry to farmhouse to hopped and wild fermented in barrels (a personal favorite). Add in their cider cocktails, fortified with Wigle spirits of course, and you have a solid addition into the North Side's drinking scene. (Try the Johnny's Flannel if it is available- this one features farm house cider, wheat whiskey, chai tea, lemon, brown sugar, and bitters and blends the two alcohols perfectly.)
Threadbare is planning on producing mead in the future and we will update this article accordingly when it is available!
Threadbare Cider House is located at 1219 Spring Garden Avenue in the North Side.
Apis Mead & Winery in Carnegie
I am a sucker for a large chalice of mead. This sweet alcohol made from fermented honey is one you don't hear of too often, but at Apis Mead & Winery in Carnegie this is precisely what you're going to get.
The spectrum of meads at Apis takes on similar format to that of Arsenal Cider House (above). There are the traditional meads, aged meads, and spiced meads as well as an array of flavored meads that push the boundaries of what you'd expect the drink to be.
Although I would've preferred to have a powerfully sweet mead like the kind you can find at the local Renaissance Festival, I am also not one to go against trying something new- especially when honey wine is concerned.
The ones here taste more like flavored wine than the mead you'd expect, but we're more than okay with that. If they have it, be sure to try “Honey Moon,” a mead that contains similar yeasts and flavors to a Saison beer. Odd, but quite good.
Apis Mead & Winery is located at 206 Mary Street in Carnegie.
Enginehouse 25 Winery in Lawrenceville
Enginehouse 25 is a unique winery in Lawrenceville located in the basement of the Roberto Clemente Museum.
In fact, the owner of the museum also owns the winery. You can take a tour of the cellar as part of a tour to the museum, and you can also taste and buy the wines at the adjacent wine bar, Arriba.
Similar to Pittsburgh Winery, all the grapes used for making wine at Enginehouse 25 are shipped in from grape-growing regions around the world including South America and California. Their oak barrels are made from Pennsylvania oak that is actually shipped to Australia, turned into barrels by a famous cooper there, and shipped back.
These beautiful barrels no doubt contribute to some of the depth of flavor that Enginehouse 25 wines exhibit.
The winery focuses mostly on red wines including Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec, and Sangiovese. At the moment they have one white wine, a Riesling. A tasting flight here costs $10, and you can also order gourmet charcuterie and cheese boards to accompany your wine. The cheese selection rotates and is thoughtfully curated by the Wheel and Wedge cheese shop.
Although the price of these wines is fairly steep (with bottles starting at $30), Arriba is definitely a place worth visiting to sample the wines and have a glass or two. If you love Pittsburgh sports you will also love Enginehouse 25 wines, as many of the labels feature photos of local sports figures as well as the legendary Roberto Clemente.
Enginehouse 25 Winery is located at 3339 Penn Avenue in Lawrenceville.
Hog Dog Winery in Reserve Township
Hog Dog Winery opened up in Reserve Township (just outside of Spring Garden north of the city) in May 2016 and has several dozen white, red, and flavored wines available for sampling and purchase.
We fell in love with the flavored wines that are available, with the cranberry pomegranate, pear, and the 18% alcohol banana being some of our favorites thanks to their robust and lingering flavors. The winery is also known for more unique concoctions, with tomato, pumpkin, and watermelon being some of the more unusual that have been out since they've opened.
We left with a few bottles and are looking forward to making some incredible sangria with them at home soon!
Hog Dog Winery is located at 3500 Spring Garden Avenue in Reserve Township.
Courtyard Winery in the Strip District
Courtyard Winery opened a tasting room in the Strip District in early 2017. Their estate is located in the town of North East, PA, near the New York border on the shores of Lake Erie, and produces all manner of wines from dry to sweet. One of the owners was a former president at Welch's, so you know that the experience with grapes is vast.
Many of the wines we sampled from this estate are blends, which help bring out some nuanced flavors in grape varieties you wouldn't expect- in a good way of course. So next time you are in the Strip District stop by for a sampling of this very tasty vineyard!
Courtyard Winery's Strip District location is at 108 19th Street.
Wooden Door Winery in New Kensington
Wooden Door Winery in New Kensington is about 35 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh to the north east on route 28. Located on the grounds of a gorgeous homestead, this vineyard offers several cozy seating areas and a large selection of wine made from locally grown grapes.
As we know that the grapes in Pennsylvania tend to make for the best sweet wine, we stuck to those during our visit. Many of these are blended into proprietary names rather than just one grape variety at this vineyard (although they have a selection of those, too), so you would do well asking what grapes go into each blend prior to ordering.
Our favorite of the bunch was not a blend, and was the seasonal Autumn Riesling which was a refreshing, sweet Riesling with just a hint of fall spice that was not overpowering like is the case in most spiced wines.
The vineyard also does cider and even wine slushies using a mix of several wines which, although not traditional in any case, was incredibly refreshing on a hot end-of-summer day.
Wooden Door Winery also advocates responsible drinking rather hard compared to most, and even offers a shuttle service for those who drank too much or would like to go to a nearby business- a nice touch you do not see everywhere that we can always appreciate.
Overall, Wooden Door Winery is a solid estate that should have something for everyone!
Wooden Door Winery is located at 4087 Greenwood Road in New Kensington, PA.
Red Star Kombucha in Market Square
We had a hard time deciding whether to put Red Star Kombucha in our wine guide or our beer guide, as while the product has many similarities to beer, the fact that it is fermented tea makes it a bit more unusual.
To give you an idea, during our visit Red Star Kombucha had five products on tap which included a clover ale, cranberry ginger, spicy turmeric, a basil spice, and cran citra hop. Unlike their beer and wine counterparts, most all clocked in at 2.5% alcohol (4.5% for the clover ale), making them easy drinking and rather light for all palates.
Those who want something a bit more fortified can go down the road of kombucha cocktails, which take the flavorful creations into a whole new level with more conventional spirits like gin, vodka, and bourbon- a must try!
Red Star Kombucha is located at 33 Graeme Street in downtown Pittsburgh, just next to Market Square.
Kavic Winery in Carnegie
Kavic Winery is one of those places you wouldn't expect to fall in love with the minute after you walk through the door- but you will.
This winery is the child of Michael and Patricia Kavic, a retired couple who wanted to bring their families' rich history of winemaking alive in Pittsburgh. From the minute you step in for a tasting you feel like one of the family, and between sampling roughly ten or so wines while learning about their local production, you'll quickly realize you are at the right place.
As Kavic Winery offers sample tastings of nearly all of their wines during a visit, we do not have to make a recommendation of our favorites. But if you're anything like us, odds are good you're going to leave with a bottle of their Riesling- it is one of the best we've tasted locally and we will be going back for more.
Kavic Winery is located at 1013 Campbells Run Road in Carnegie, Pa.
Greendance Winery in Mount Pleasant
Greendance Winery at Sandhill is a beautiful property located just outside of Mt Pleasant, about 40 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. The complimentary tastings they offer include 6 wines of your choice, ranging from dry to semi-dry to semi-sweet to sweet and even dessert wines and ports.
We thought that many of the wines we tried here were pretty dry, even some of the semi-sweet to sweet wines. Our favorite wine that we tried was the Isabella, a sweet blush wine.
One of the best things about this property is that they are also a fruit farm and have a strong focus on growing their own berries and apples. This means you can pick up some incredible products ranging from fresh fruit, pies, preserves, to fruit wines.
Naturally, if you're visiting a fruit farm you have to try their pie, and on our recent visit we tried a slice of brambleberry (mixed berries) and blueberry after our wine tasting- a must!
Greendance Winery is located at 306 Deerfield Road just outside of Mount Pleasant.
Greenhouse Winery in Irwin
Irwin’s resident winery, Greenhouse Winery, first opened in 2007. Since then they have undergone significant expansion including several satellite locations for wine tastings and bottle sales throughout Pennsylvania.
We first visited Greenhouse Winery at a satellite location near Pittsburgh that has since closed, but made the trip down to their idyllic tasting chateau on the top of a hill in the middle of nature in Irwin. The winery is a gorgeous building perfect for events and weddings, and even has a lot of other side amenities like a fire pit, horse shoes, bocce, and more
All of the wines here go down quick, and are also low on sulfites for those who have sensitivities to wine. Our favorites included April Showers, a semi-sweet wine with hints of peach, as well as the Pomegranate (especially in slushie form!). The latter is among the more special creations this vineyard makes as they mix the remaining fruit wine of any given batch with a standard wine.
If this is your kind of wine, keep one thing in mind- they’re only around for a while and once they’re gone no one knows when they come back!
Greenhouse Winery is located at 1048 Pinewood Road in Irwin, PA. Check their website out to find the many other tasting rooms available around Pennsylvania.
Winfield Winery in Cabot
Winfield Winery is a small winery located in Cabot, PA, a few miles from Todd Nature Reserve. But in the case of this particular winery, when we say small we mean it as they are located in a single family home!
Although this one lacks in size they make up for it with a sizable wine menu containing a full spectrum of dry, semi-dry, and sweet wines as well as plentiful fruit wines including creations we have not seen at others such as plum and yellow raspberry.
Drop by this one next time you're in the region for their free tastings and affordable bottles!
Winfield Winery is located at 1026 Winfield Road in Cabot, PA.
Raccoon Creek Winery
Raccoon Creek Winery is the resident winery at Kramer's Greenhouse near Hillman State Park and shares the bar space with the greenhouse's brewery venture, Coal Tipple Brewery.
As with most wineries in the region, the wine making endeavor started as a way to preserve the leftover fruit from the harvests- so you shouldn't be surprised to find out that the vast majority of the wines here are sweet and are made with ingredients other than grapes.
During our visit we were able to sample wines such as the Riesling (a dry variant that tasted like a crisp, green apple that is highly acidic), raspberry mead, kiwi pear, and even their own hard cider with four rather large pours coming in at just $7.
While we were not as impressed with the beer from Coal Tipple (mostly due to the brewery's young age), the wine at Raccoon Creek Winery shines and fruit wine lovers will surely be walking away with a bottle after a tasting (as we did with the kiwi pear).
Raccoon Creek Winery is located next to Hillman State Park at 1905 Steubenville Pike in Burgettstown, PA.
La Casa Narcisi Winery in Gibsonia
When we pulled up to La Casa Narcisi Winery in Gibsonia we were immediately impressed: this is one of the few wineries in the Pittsburgh region that has a full-on estate feel complete with perfectly manicured grounds and a beautiful tasting room. It was hard to believe we were just 30 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh!
The winery uses grapes that are all grown in Pennsylvania- many from the Lake Erie region, and a few varietals that are grown right on the estate in Gibsonia.
The tasting room offers three complimentary samples of wines ranging from very dry reds and whites, to semi-sweets, to full on sweet wines, and even fruit wines. While we were predictably not fans of the super dry ones, we found the sweeter wines like the Concord, Niagara, Peach, Riesling, and Moscato to be much more balanced and structured than other sweet wines we've tried from the region.
You could spend a whole evening at Casa Narcisi as they have a full restaurant with outdoor seating in a pretty courtyard (the sun-dried tomato dipping oil is heavenly). Four nights a week they also have live music on their outdoor stage.
Another fun option is to bring your own picnic food, buy a bottle of wine, and relax on the lawn area while listening to the concerts. The lawn area is even dog-friendly!
La Casa Narcisi Winery is located at 4578 Gibsonia Road in Gibsonia.
Vinoski Winery in Belle Vernon
Vinoski Winery opened in Westmoreland County in 2017, and from the moment you drive up to the estate you'll feel like you've been transported straight to Napa. The reason for this is that (if you haven't guessed from the photo) the word estate is a bit of a misnomer and the winery is located on the ground floor of a modern day castle.
What makes this one interesting is that the vast majority of the wines here are actually made in California at a property run by the Vinoski family, and the bottles are shipped back to Pennsylvania to be sold locally. So if you are a fan of New World, West Coast wines, this is the place for you (but they do have a few local, sweet wines for lovers of Concord and Niagara).
Five generous samples come in at $10, and samples of the premium collection will set you back $20- a steep price, but also worth it to try wines you just wont get locally as they also do not sell by the glass. Our personal favorite was the Riesling which was quite floral, almost Gewurztraminer like, and we left with two bottles to savor back home.
But with an estate like this, we really wished we could've cracked a bottle open while we were there.
We will be back for the ambiance alone!
Vinoski Winery is located at 333 Castle Drive in Belle Vernon, PA.
Christian W Klay Winery near Ohiopyle
Christian W Klay Winery is one of the closest to Ohiopyle State Park, making it the perfect stop to quench your thirst after a long day of hiking.
The winery sits on a patch of beautiful countryside where you can sit out and enjoy more traditional wines like their Blanc de LaFayette (a floral white) or Nemacolin Castle (a semi-dry similar to Riesling/Gewurztraminer) or some more unique creations like their Spiced Apple or Lavender Mist sweet sparkling wine- a personal favorite.
Most bottles at this winery cost between $14 and $22, making them a bit on the higher side for some local wineries; however, their prices are more than justified as they are as solid as they come for PA wines! Enjoy a bottle while there, take a few to go, and bask in the beauty that is southern Pennsylvania.
For those who want a bit more fortification in their beverages, head across the street to check out Ridge Runner Distillery for their moonshine and affordable cocktails as well. A perfect combo!
Christian W Klay Winery is located at 412 Fayette Springs Road in Chalkhill, PA- just outside of Ohiopyle. Ridge Runner Distillery is located at 417 Fayette Springs Road just across the street.
More Coming Soon
We’re continually visiting new wineries in Pittsburgh and will be updating this guide as we discover new ones worth your time in the city!
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