Today is our sweet Sophia's 18th Birthday! So it is fitting that we celebrate her in our Staff Spotlight!
How long have you been at Penns Woods?
I started working at the tasting room in February of 2019. I found out about working at the winery when Carley and her kids moved into the renovated Vineyard House just down the street from me! I started babysitting for Carley and Andy which then led to me working at the tasting room as well haha.
What are your favorite hobbies/activities?
In my free time I love to explore the woods and go on long hikes with my dog. Although I can’t drink wine, my favorite pairing is the cupcake and wine pairing because they make the kitchen smell delicious and are super tasty.
What’s your favorite thing about Penns Woods?
What I love most about Penns Woods is the welcoming environment that we have. When I started working there everyone was super nice and had good attitudes. The staff here are some of my favorite people and many of our regular customers are delightful which makes my days at work the most enjoyable.
Even with meticulous vine training & management grape vines will produce the odd cluster or two in their canopy. What we don't harvest for wine, we will often go back later & pick the random clusters to make jam! Don’t be afraid to experiment with different infused honey & fruit combinations!
2 cups of crushed fruit (grapes, pitted cherries, blueberries, raspberries, etc.)
¼ c water
4 tsp pectin powder
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp fresh lemon zest
⅓ c local honey
¼ tsp almond extract
If you have not met Matt already, you are missing out! Matt brings such a positive energy to our team every time that he is around. He is always eager to help and learn more about wine, our members, and our business. We are so fortunate to have him a part of our Penns Woods family! See below for more about our awesome coworker!!
Tell us about your wine background.
I got into wine when I lived in Northern Virginia and I had 40 wineries/tasting rooms in the county next to me (Loudoun). I was able to cross off about 20 different wineries while I lived there for 2 years and was able to try so many different wines that I had no idea about. My first experience at a winery, I asked so many questions and loved learning about all the intricacies of the wine-making process!
What else are you into?
Some of my hobbies include running, keeping an eye on the weather, and traveling! I have a goal of running 100 miles a month (1200 a year) and that keeps me quite busy during these COVID days. Not so much travel this year but my goal is to hit all 50 states by 50 years old! I am currently at 32 states so more than halfway there. The weather has always interested me, so much so that I graduated with a degree in meteorology! Need a forecast? I’m your guy!
Any wine or pairing suggestions?
My favorite wine is Sauvignon Blanc & my favorite beer is something we often carry here at the Tasting Room- La Cabra’s Providence Pils. My favorite food and wine pairing overall is Chenin Blanc with smoked salmon!
Traminette is a unique little hybrid with bright fruit & florals which makes for an ideal counterpoint in rich, savory dishes. Our Monte Cristo Sammy with Cherry Merlot Preserves served on the side for dipping is the perfect pairing for our 2019 vintage of Traminette (call to purchase- limited inventory left!). The lychee & peach notes perfectly complement the ham while the touch of sweetness mellows the more funky gruyere. The best part of this recipe is that you can easily transform your Turkey day leftovers (ham or turkey!) into an out-of-this-world treat that just might show up the holiday meal itself!
Red Wine Pot Roast is a classic & comforting fall staple. Our Proprietor Reserve's finely structured tannins & balanced acidity complement the fall-apart meat & tender veggies while the dark fruit & notes of oregano meld beautifully with the delicious rosemary kissed gravy- perfect for soaking up with fresh bread!
Experience all the flavors of fall with our Sweet Cheese Cinnamon Apple dip paired with a heartwarming cup of hot mulled wine (still available for purchase at our Tasting Room)! Top with chopped walnuts, drizzle with caramel sauce or a local honey. Spread over crackers or dip in fresh sliced fruit!
Directions: In a large bowl, stir mascarpone, marshmallow cream & Greek yogurt together until smooth. Add in brown sugar, vanilla, salt & spices. Mix until uniformly incorporated. Fold in chopped apple pieces. Refrigerate. Before serving top with nuts, ginger honey or caramel sauce. Serve with fresh fruits & wafers or graham crackers.
This week's Staff Spotlight is... Raechel! Raechel is our sales manager and in-house Sommelier. Raechel is an incredible asset to the Penns Woods team as she always brings a positive vibe and a world of wine knowledge everywhere she goes. Check out our Q&A.
Tell us about yourself.
I moved to PA six years ago from Colorado. While I miss my home state, I am so grateful for all the friends I’ve made & opportunities I’ve had here out East. And in more recent news, I just became a mom to a beautiful little girl named Lucy! I can't wait until she is running around with the rest of the vineyard kids!
How did you get into wine?
Denver is a well-known beer town so my interest in fermentation really began there. In my early 20s I managed bars creating beer & wine lists as well as cocktail menus but definitely didn’t pay much attention to wine until I attended a trade tasting put on for beverage directors- there were incredible wines there & it really opened up my eyes past the standard offerings. At the time I was running two locations for a Polish owner and I began incorporating more unique wines & varietals from Eastern Europe to complement the menu. It was the first time I really started to pay attention to flavor profiles as well as food and wine pairing. After moving to PA I attended the Wine School of Philadelphia, earning my Advanced Level Somm Cert in 2018. I also ended up pursuing my Level II Brewer Cert there as well through their Beer School. In 2019 I began working towards a winemaking certificate through Penn State.
What is your favorite wine? Is your wine of choice right now different?
I am obsessed with bubbles. Honestly if I drank nothing but Champagne for the rest of my life I’d be happy although since I definitely can’t afford that I look to Cava, Cremant de Bourgogne or Vouvray Brut to get me through. I’m a big fan of sparklers from Oregon as well. Bubbles are so versatile when it comes to food too. Friendly with salty & sweet as well as creamy dishes & those with a spicy kick- you really can’t go wrong with some bub. Since I’m expecting my first little one my drink of choice has been water out of heavy half-gallon Yeti but I have a special Grand Cru bottle my husband & I brought back from France last year I’m saving to celebrate once she’s here!
What do you enjoy most about Penns Woods?
I just love the opportunity to learn, grow & get your hands dirty. I love how each day is different- I could be working inside, outside or as the wholesale manager, meeting with different folks in & around Philly. Our tightknit group here are the most loving, hilarious & hard working folks around & I feel lucky to be a part of the growing Pennsylvania wine community.
With it's tropical fruit driven flavors & floral undertones, our Viognier Reserve '19 is just delightful with the more exotic spices in your cabinet. We've put together a special Mandarin Orange & Curry Chicken Salad on a fresh baked croissant (pick yours up from French bakery La Baguette Magique in West Chester!) Have fun playing around with the fruit in this recipe- try substituting mango, papaya or pineapple!
If you know anything about Southern cooking, then you know there is a special time of the year when fried green tomatoes are a menu must-have. We were treated to this simple, yet iconic dish by none other than our own Georgia woman, Andrea Creato. This southern staple just sings the song of summertime with a perfect balance of tart green tomato & fried-salty savoriness. The crunch and the spice is soul-satisfyingly delectable! We paired this special taste of summer with our Rose ’19, the bright fruity notes complemented the unripe tomato while the crisp acidity and dewy minerality played well with the fried element. Our team agreed that the Brut Rose would also have been a phenomenal choice as well (think about that salty crunch with those bubbles- a match made in pairing heaven!). This dish is easy with simple ingredients most everyone keeps in the pantry, so snag a few of those green tomatoes from the garden, grab a skillet & get fryin’!
Kathy’s deviled eggs are simple, delicious and a fun one to play around with on the ingredients! In this version we really enjoyed the balance of the tangy Taste Artisanal Market Cider Mustard (made with our own William Penn Hard Cider by the way!) and the background savory notes of the Parmigiano Reggiano. With some help from our lovely ladies in the vineyard hen house, we were able to quickly whip these together and loved snacking on these party staples while sipping on our NEW Chardonnay Reserve ’19. Our Wine Club received a sneak peek earlier this month and we are excited to release this incredible vintage to the public this weekend! This wine has a zippy, saline acidity that complements the creamy yolk centers with notes of under-ripe pineapple, papaya, pink lady apple & honeycomb that simultaneously sing with the tangy mustard & brighten the underlying savory cheese. This dish proves that wine pairing doesn’t have to be hard or fancy in order to really work!
“I loved my mom’s deviled eggs as a kid and she was not a cook- nor am I! This simple recipe is for the non-cook who wants people to think she can cook!” -Kathy
Go behind the scenes with the Penns Woods Winery team in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.