Good Life

Drink it in | Wine trails and breweries abound in the commonwealth

Summertime sure brings out the spirit of travel in some people, and there are plenty of options in Pennsylvania to visit places that produce spirits.

That would be alcohol, not ghosts and such.

Enthusiasts of wine and beer have a lot places to visit in the state to try new, favorite or new favorite beverages. Luckily, there are apps, websites and other ways to find them and maximize a trip around the state visiting wineries and breweries.

Pennsylvania is home to more than 200 wineries, with one being located within an hours drive of any point in the state, said Jennifer Eckinger, spokeswoman with the Pennsylvania Winery Association. The sites certainly draw visitors: wineries had 894,000 guests and generated just less than $180 million in tourism in 2011, the last statistic available, according to the association.

Wine a little

With so many options, it would be hard to pick which sites to visit. A nice way to get a taste of the wines of several wineries in an area is to take in several sites along one of the 12 wine trails in the state.

A trail is usually composed of wineries within a half-hour or 45 minutes drive of each other, Eckinger said. The sites help each other out using things like passport programs.

“They help give a flavor for the region,” Eckinger said.

Centre County residents don’t have to go far to stroll down the nearest wine trail, the Susquehanna Heartland. Mount Nittany Vineyard and Winery in Centre Hall, Seven Mountains Wine Cellars in Spring Mills and Happy Valley Vineyards & Winery in State College are all part.

Another way wine connoisseurs can travel the state and check out places is through the association’s mobile site at m.pennsylvaniawine.com, which lets users search wineries, plan itineraries and check out the wine trails from the convenience of a phone.

Take a beer tour

The Keystone State is also home to a lot of commercial beer makers, with more than 200 licensed breweries in the state, although not all of those are active, said Dan LaBert of the Brewers of Pennsylvania. Beer is a big business in the commonwealth, LeBert said, with the industry having about $1 billion effect on the state economy, he said.

“Pennsylvania has a rich brewing history and our focus on buying fresh and buying local is very evident,” he said. “We have a working class that is ready to aid in production and also a consumer base that’s willing to buy it.”

Like the winery association, the Brewers of Pennsylvania has a tech tool that can aid beer fans in visiting their favorite — or new — Pennsylvania breweries. The group debuted an app earlier this year that can be used to keep up with events at breweries in the state and a brewery map to plan trips.

Of course, there are many local options for refreshing brew: Otto’s, Elk Creek Cafe, Robin Hood Brewing Co. and Happy Valley Brewing Co. come to mind. Several others are within easy driving distance and open for business.

Cheers!

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