Food & Drink

It’s grape harvest season in Centre County

Seven Mountains Wine Cellars in Spring Mills has been open for 7 years.
Seven Mountains Wine Cellars in Spring Mills has been open for 7 years. Photo provided

This article originally ran in early September 2009 and there have been many changes to our local winery landscape since then. Mount Nittany winery is now run by Joe and Betty Carrol’s daughter, Linda Weaver, and her husband, Steve, though Joe and Betty are still very much around and happy to share a glass of wine and some history with you as you sit by the pond overlooking the vineyard. Brand new when this article was written, Seven Mountains has now been around for seven years. Co-owner Mary Ann Bubb has less reason to make her Spaghetti and Meatballs since the winery shares space in their Reedsville tasting room with Revival Kitchen. And Happy Valley Vineyard & Winery makes an afternoon visiting a winery even easier for State College residents. The award-winning winery is about 5 minutes from town and makes a pleasant hour of sitting next to a vineyard enjoying a glass of wine very easy indeed.

Try getting face to face with the tangled vines, and see how the sunlight filters through the leaves and backlights the heavy clusters. You could be anywhere, in any epoch. The sweet fruit aroma is underscored by the dry, crackly smell of fall impending; maples and oaks on the mountain are about to burst into flaming colors. September in a vineyard, full of mission accomplished; full promise of better things to come. California? France? No; right here in our own backyard.

The grape harvest is happening right now in Centre County. At Mount Nittany Winery just off Brush Valley Road on the southern facing slope of Mount Nittany, the first crush last week was Cayuga. This weekend seyval is due for harvest. According to Sandy Alexander, this “wet year caused late ripening.” The best is still to come. The riesling is still on the vine. The chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon grapes are still soaking up the sun, getting sweeter.

Winery owners Joe and Betty Carroll purchased 65 acres in 1983 and started planting grapes the next year. The amateur winemakers envisioned a vineyard and that dream was realized seven years later when they opened their winery with a tasting room that affords an expansive view of the valley and of their five acres of grapevines planted in seven varieties. Their 20-year-old enterprise is a testament to their vision, determination and a lot of hard work.

Not far away, on the crest of the ridges that define our valley, Scott and Mary Ann Bubb recently opened a new winery, Seven Mountains Wine Cellars. Like the Carrolls, the Bubbs were amateur winemakers before launching the enterprise, fellow members of the American Wine Society. Scott honed his skill by entering many regional and national competitions during the years. The winery is an elegant building that has a Western lodge-like appeal, and the tasting room was busy last weekend, with a van full of enthusiastic wine samplers who seemed only mildly interested in the Penn State football game in progress.

Clearly targeting the Penn State tailgate crowd that winds faithfully along Route 322 every home football game, Seven Mountains Wine Cellars markets a “Blue and White.”

Tailgate party pack consisting of a blueberry wine and a white cayuga. Though the front lawn is currently thin blades of newly planted grass, they have plans to eventually surround their winery with grapevines. They have many types of wine available, including some from their own vines near Colyer Lake where they grow cayuga, traminette, vidal blanc and chambourcin. One of their most popular wines is the Ten Point, a dry, red Bordeaux-like blend.

This harvest season don’t miss the chance to enjoy an afternoon at a local winery, sampling the finished work of our local winemakers. You can learn something about the process of taking 15 pounds of hanging fruit and coaxing it into a complex beverage that enriches and endures.

Anne Quinn Corr is the author of “Seasons of Central Pennsylvania, “ of several iBook cookbooks (”Food, Glorious Food!” “What’s Cooking?!” and “Igloo: Recipes to Cure the Winter Blues”) that are available for free on iTunes. She regularly posts to the blog HowToEatAndDrink .com and can be reached at chefcorr@gmail.com.

Mount Nittany Vineyard & Winery, 300 Houser Road, Centre Hall

Phone: 466-6373

Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday

Happy Valley Vineyard & Winery, 576 Foxpointe Drive, State College

Phone: 308-8756

Hours: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 1 -6 p.m. Sunday

Seven Mountains Wine Cellars, 324 Decker Valley Road, Spring Mills

Phone: 364-1000

Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday-Saturday

MARY ANN BUBB’S SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS WITH MUSHROOMS, SEVEN MOUNTAINS STYLE

Serves 4

Sauce

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

4 medium carrots, chopped

1 medium onion chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

6 ounces mushroom of choice

two 14-oz cans diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon crushed garlic

 1/2 cup water

1/2 cup dry red wine (Ten Point works perfectly!)

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground pepper

Meatballs

3/4 pound lean ground turkey

2 large egg whites

3 tablespoons seasoned bread crumbs

1/4 cup fresh parsley

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons grated cheese of choice

Olive oil for frying

Pasta

9 ounces pasta of choice

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

To make sauce: Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add next 4 ingredients. Stir, cover and cook 5 to 7 minutes. Add tomatoes with juice and remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer 25 minutes.

Combine all meatball ingredients except oil in large bowl. Shape into 18 golf-ball sized meatballs. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Brown meatballs 15 minutes. Add to sauce and simmer 10 minutes.

Cook pasta and serve with the meatballs and sauce, topping with grated Parmesan.   

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