Gino Razzi has a reverence for grapes. You can see it in his eyes when he talks about them. You can sense it when he handles grapes in the field. And you can most certainly taste it in our award-winning wines.
Gino, our president and winemaker, has spent a lifetime around grapes and wine, and it shows. Hailing from Abruzzo, in southern Italy, he immigrated here in 1962 and soon began importing the wines he loved. After three decades bringing wines into the states, Gino made an amazing discovery: great grapes can be grown in Pennsylvania. So began the journey to produce his own Italian-inspired wines.
“I’m a stickler about the grapes I grow,” Gino explained. “We work hard to take care of our existing vineyard and to carefully cultivate the new. Because of that, more than 80 percent of the grapes that go into Penns Woods’ wines come from our vines. I’m proud that 98 percent of the grapes we use are grown in Pennsylvania.”
Gino was equally choosey when he went searching for the ideal vineyard site. He spent two years in the early 2000s evaluating sites in bucolic Pennsylvania until he came upon the intriguing decades-old vines at what was then Smithbridge Winery. Gino was convinced those grapes could produce world-class wines; that vineyard became Penns Woods Winery in 2004.
“We go to extensive efforts to preserve the old vines; some of the Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc are 40 years old,” Gino added. “We prune them carefully and properly. We reduce the yield, producing a limited amount of grapes so it’s not a strain on the vines. And we stay on top of the vineyard for disease control.”
Gino’s gone so far as to hire soil scientists to make sure the earth those precious vines spring from is the perfect balance for the juicy grapes he tends. And that translates to winning wines.
A stroll through the vines shows that Penns Woods Winery has honored the hard work and artistry of its predecessors while adding new varietals like Moscato, Sauvignon Blanc and Traminette, interesting choices for Gino, whose first wine, Symposium, a big-red Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, rated 95 points from Wine Spectator back in 1997.
“I wanted to make some lighter wines, more floral wines, not just bold wines,” he added. “At Penns Woods, we have something for every palate: whites, rosés and reds; off-dry, sweet, dry, fruity. Wine for everyone.”
Gino’s been wildly successful choosing and nurturing Penns Woods’ vines. And he’s got big plans for the future, which he intends to share with local growers and farmers. He’ll be working with Penn State University to research Pennsylvania soil, climate, grape varietals and root stock. He’ll also start to track climate thanks to a collaboration with Cornell University: a weather station at Penns Woods will monitor local growing seasons.
Best of all (for wine lovers, of course!), Gino’s efforts, now and in the future, can only mean one thing: more spectacular wines to drink. Salute!
Penns Woods Winery is a family-run Pennsylvania winery. With more than 40 years of experience in the wine business, winemaker Gino Razzi and his daughter, Carley Mack, produce award-winning wines from Pennsylvania-grown grapes. Penns Woods wines can be found in restaurants throughout Philadelphia and its surrounding suburbs. Stop in to your local state store and pick from a limited selection of wines, or visit our tasting room for the full offering. The tasting room in Chadds Ford provides an all-around vineyard experience and hosts live music, food and wine pairings and other exciting events each weekend. Score Penns Woods Winery news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter today!
Bottom two photos by Alexandra Whitney Photography.
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Go behind the scenes with the Penns Woods Winery team in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.