During a recent mid-winter afternoon visit to Bella Terra Vineyards in Hunker, PA. I had the pleasure of talking with owner Jay Bell during one of the rare times when his trendy winery wasn’t bustling with activity. Jay walked behind the bar and over to a row of taps where he grabbed a brightly colored pull and filled a glass with his latest offering Hunker Hippie. The catchy name brought a smile to my face as did the bubbling wine in my glass and the thought process behind it. Hunker Hippie is a lower alcohol carbonated light red wine with 6% ABV and a hint of blackberry.
Jay and his team used a Piquette-style of winemaking to utilize the same grapes that were used to make several of BTV’s full-bodied wines. The Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Barbera grapes from the Alexander Valley in Sonoma County, California were re-passed and made into a light red wine that is the base wine for their Rosé Cider and Harvest Rosê Cider. This year Jay reserved 130 gallons of that wine to make his initial offering of Hunker Hippie. Hunker Hippie is the perfect wine for a warm summer day at the winery when you want to drink a refreshing light wine that won’t fill you up. It is on tap now by the glass but is also available in a growler at a great price. If you’re curious about Hunker Hippie don’t wait until summer to try it because this first batch is going fast.
I recently visited with Jay Bell owner/winemaker at Bella Terra Vineyards in Hunker, Pennsylvania. Jay is one of the ambitious young winemakers making his mark on the
Wine rack in the Bella Terra Vineyards tastingroom
developing wine scene here in Western PA.
The first thing you notice when you arrive at Bella Terra is the ample parking that is usually in short supply at other wineries. Jay and his team make the comfort and convenience of their guests a priority. The description of the winery’s atmosphere seen the most on social media is “laid back”. Bella Terra took a huge step forward in their comfort factor when they opened the event center in May 2019. With room for nearly 200 people on the covered patio and the large roll-up doors that bring the outside feel into the air-conditioned bar area and meeting room guests can enjoy live entertainment while protected from the elements. Plans are already being made to expand the production area in the rear of the building to meet
growing demand. Jay has taken the first step to realize a life long dream of growing his
Local craft beers are available in the tastingroom
own grapes and is in the process of purchasing property near Bella Terra to plant a twenty acre vineyard.
Here are a couple things to look for the next time you visit the winery. Sweet Finley, Bella Terra’s most popular wine will soon be available in a two serving size can making it easier to transport, open and have a freshly opened wine in your glass. Jay has always been excited to offer his hard cider to customers but now he plans on adding a new twist by blending it with red wine to make a Rosê cider. If you are looking for a venue that is laid back and accessible check out Bella Terra Vineyards online for their hours of operation and event calendar.
A large calendar of events and food trucks can be found at Bella Terra Vineyards
When Jay & Joanna Bell’s love for winemaking outgrew their basement they had a decision to make. They had to decide whether to restrain their passion for winemaking or dive head first into the vineyard and winery business. Luckily for us they chose the latter. They didn’t just dip their toes into the waters of the winemaking pond they built their own 3 acre lake on their 17 acre property in Hunker, Pa at 121 Sunny Lane. They also built a winery with a tasting room, a lakeside stage where bands perform, a large parking lot and planted a vineyard with 380 vines divided between 5 varieties. A planned event center is on the drawing board with a start date in the near future. That is quite an achievement considering they became Western Pennsylvania’s newest winery when they opened in September of 2016.
The first thing Jay pointed out as we entered the winery were the carboys filled with the wine he will be using to make his blends. They were neatly aligned and separated into reds and whites. In the corner of the winery stood a large stainless steel tank. When Jay lifted the lid to show me the contents the unmistakable aroma of yeast at work filled the room. The yeast in that tank was working to make Bella Terra’s Sweet Diamond wine. Jay turned and pointed at a barrel rack filled with American Oak barrels. With a smile he couldn’t contain he began to talk in glowing terms about the Chardonnay aging in those barrels as being something “Special”
Bella Terra’s wine list offers 8 wines that range from the dry Peridot, Ives, Raspberry Cabernet and Reserve to a semi-sweet Riesling and finishing with their popular sweet offerings of Sunday Afternoon, Duvall and the best-selling Sweet Finlay, named after their adorable little daughter. While his young vineyard matures Jay sources his grapes from growers around Lake Erie and the Finger Lakes Wine Region of New York as well as a vineyard in the Napa Valley area of California.
Bella Terra Vineyards is now closed for the winter but will be reopening for its first full season on May 6th, 2017. More information is available online at these resources: Facebook website:http://bellaterravineyards.com Instagram: bellaterravineyards Email: firstname.lastname@example.org