Drink Local Winery Review: Vinoski Winery (Belle Vernon, PA)
Last weekend, my husband and I were granted a child-free day by my parents and decided to visit a new winery in the area. We had seen some initial hype about the opening of the Vinoski Winery and decided to try it out.
Vinoski’s owners purchased a recently vacated new money estate in Belle Vernon which is a monstrosity of a building with large acreage. We made our way up the private drive and parked in a grassy area. It was a beautiful August day, not too hot and the perfect day for enjoying a bottle of wine outside. The winery had entertainment on the patio, where there were 3 or 4 tables of people and it was not busy at all. The tasting room, a rich, mahogany paneled space complete with large fireplace, was also not busy.
We were immediately led to a register to purchase our wine tasting. There were two options: 5 tastings from the regular menu for $10 or 5 tastings from either the regular or premium menu for $20. I will stop here and say this is incredibly expensive for Western Pennsylvania, where most wineries do not charge at all for wine tasting. In fact, Greendance Winery (operated by the same owners, offers free tastings). We decided to try both the regular wines and premium list.
The wines at Vinsoki are produced with fruit grown from a leased vineyard in Lodi California. The wine is also produced there and shipped to this location. The wine list is mainly typical California varietals from the 2014 harvest: Riesling, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Syrah and Zinfandel as well as a brut and sparkling rose. The Riesling was especially pleasing. A fruit-forward, semi-sweet style with excellent balance. Chris really liked the Merlot, which also had a nice structure and fruit to it. The wines were all nice, but again, incredibly expensive for the area ranging from $37-$48 per bottle.
The premium list featured a Chardonnay aged in stainless steel and finished. Neither Chris nor I cared for it. The balance of oak and fruit was off which muddied the fruit and left the acid. There was a bright Vermentino, and a wonderful reserve blend, but again the prices started at near $40 with the reserve being $98. While the reserve was wonderful, you could easily find a similar quality bottle for half the price.
So bottom line: The wines are very nice and high quality (except for the Chardonnay–I’m not sure what was going on with that), but the tasting/bottle fees make for an expensive day out. You would easily be looking at $100 for tastings and a bottle to enjoy on the patio (and that is with no food in sight). The tasting fee is not waived if you buy a bottle (but they do have a wine club where you can put your tasting fees toward a CASE purchase). The place is also a beautiful venue for a wedding or corporate event. Our tasting host mentioned that they were planning to do tasting and tour packages in the near future, which could also be a fun special occasion activity.
Pros: Riesling, Merlot, Vermentino and Reserve blend, beautiful location, live weekend entertainment
Cons: Chardonnay, high price for the area
Have you had a chance to visit Vinoski Winery? Let us know what you think in the comments!