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Penns Woods Winery: From Abruzzo with love


I recently had the opportunity to visit Penns Woods Winery in Chadds Ford, Pa., where I met company president Carley Razzi and was impressed by her natural approach to viticulture.

Penns Woods Winery produces nine reds, two roses and six whites. | Photos by Murray Schulman

The winery was established in 2001 following the dream of founder Gino Razzi, Carley’s father. She said that although Gino
is retired, he remains active in all aspects of the winery.

Gino carries the traditions from his home in Abruzzo to the vineyard he started in Pennsylvania. His efforts yielded the first vintage of their own grapes in 2004. Carley chose to carry on the Abruzzo traditions that were deeply embedded in her life and spirit after graduating from college. She came home and joined the winery operation in 2009 where she fell in love with the soil, the vines, and the art of winemaking.

Davide Creato came to the vineyard from Italy in 2011 as an intern. He is now vineyard manager. His wife Andrea Creato is chief financial officer.  

Grapes are grown at Penns Woods Winery using no processed fertilizers. The use of chemical applications is limited and closely monitored.

The winery grows plants such as daikon, brassica, legumes and crimson clover as “cover crops” that provide natural aeration of the soil, natural weed control, and even natural insect repellent.

The Pinot Noir standard is steps above the competition, and the Pinot Noir reserve is even better | Photos by Murray Schulman

What about their wine? Spectacular! I have several bottles of Penns Woods’ wines in my wine cabinet. I am a red wine guy. However, their Sauvignon Blanc changed my perspective. I have tasted Sauvignon Blanc in the past and went right back to my beloved reds. This Sauvignon Blanc is aromatic, full bodied, rich in citrusy flavors mixed with gooseberries, green apple and wild grasses. It finishes long and gentle.

Paired with the tart, tangy and earthy flavors of goat cheese, well-seasoned shrimp, or even oysters and clams from the oyster bar, this wine is a delight. Liz especially enjoyed the 2023 Wildflower White. When I opened the bottle, we were struck with the aroma of lemon candy, stone fruit, and flowers. This blend of Chardonnay, Moscato, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, and Traminette may sound complex. When paired with crabs and spaghetti or with shrimp fra diavolo, the citrusy acidity with hints of underripe pineapple, star fruit, kumquat and white florals is perfection.

I am enamored with the Pinot Noir. I have tried their standard Pinot Noir as well as the reserve. The standard is steps above others that I have tried. The reserve is even better.

The aroma of the 2020 Pinot Noir is of red fruits, mushrooms with a hint of vanilla. On the palate are fresh cherries and strawberries, with notes of orange peel and hibiscus tea, finishing with baking spice. This wine pairs perfectly with some of my favorite dishes. Baked salmon, mushrooms, duck breast, and gruyere cheese are even more delicious.

The 2019 Pinot Noir Reserve is much more complex. It is deep ruby red with the nose evoking black cherry, baking spices, bergamot, and earth. The flavor involves strawberry, bramble, beetroot, baked rhubarb, with undertones of clove, dried florals, and vanilla. This is a smooth-bodied wine with a delicious acidity that brightens the finish.

Carley mentioned that the Pinot Noir pairs beautifully with a popular Abruzzi dish called arrosticini, which is lamb skewers grilled over an open fire. Traditionally, the lamb is not seasoned before grilling. Salt to taste is applied immediately after the skewers come off the grill.

Carley Razzi and her dog Vino on the sprawling grounds of Penns Woods Winery in Chadds Ford, Pa. | Photos by Murray Schulman

I could go on and on because Penns Woods produces nine reds, including their world class Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, and their Chambourcin Reserve from 100% Chamboursin Grapes. The winery produces two Rose wines, their Moscato Rose and their Gold Medal Rose, which won 91 points rating from the Beverage Tasting Institute. There are six whites rounding out the selections. In addition to the Sauvignon Blanc and the Wildflower White that I already described, their Chardonnay Reserve and the Viognier Reserve are top of the class.

Penns Woods Winery encompasses some 40 acres, part of which is a national park. Gino started the tradition of representing what Pennsylvania provides in the wines. He views his wines to be a tribute to the regional Italian Americans that brought so much to realizing his vision. Carley carries on these same values, successfully sustaining her father’s vision. She has formed a strong collaboration with the community’s artisans and is active in the community. Call the winery at (610) 459-0808 to reserve a tour and tasting. Visit the website pennswoodswinery.com to keep up with the latest winery news and to visit their online shop. 

Murray Schulman,  a columnist with the Italian-American Herald, for 12 years, has worked in the food business for more than 50 years, sharing his expertise in kitchens, offices and classrooms spanning several states. He retired in 2017 as head of prepared foods for Delaware Supermarkets Inc.  He lives in Pennsville, N..J.

Murray Schulman

Murray Schulman, a columnist with the Italian-American Herald for 12 years, has worked in the food business for more than 50 years, sharing his expertise in kitchens, offices and classrooms spanning several states. He retired in 2017 as head of prepared foods for Delaware Supermarkets Inc. He lives in Pennsville, N.J

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