Looking for a unique way to experience the Solar Eclipse? Ripepi Winery & Vineyards will be hosting a Solar Eclipse Viewing Party in their vineyard. This is the first time since 1979 that a solar eclipse will be visible from the U.S. mainland. To celebrate this rare opportunity Ripepi’s is encouraging guests to pack a picnic lunch to enjoy while they witness history in the making and providing them with eclipse glasses and wine specials. This viewing event is Monday August 21, 2017 @ Ripepi Winery & Vineyard 93 Van Voorhis Lane Monongahela, Pa from 12pm – 5pm. 724-292-8351
Photo Courtesy: Ripepi Winery & Vineyard
The second Friday of the month is a very special time at Ripepi Winery Monongahela, Pa. It’s special because that’s the monthly Happy Hour from 5 – 8 PM. If you would like to enjoy a good Pa. wine with friendly people in a festive winery setting mark your calendar for these events. You’ll get to meet Rich Ripepi and his stellar staff while tasting Ripepi’s large selection of wines.
When you visit be sure to talk with owner/winemaker Rich Ripepi. His warm and welcoming personality will make you feel right at home. Take advantage of the opportunity to discuss wine and wine grapes with him. He possesses an encyclopedic knowledge on the subject and is one of the very few Western Pennsylvania wine makers that grows his own wine grapes. Take a minute before you enter the tasting room to savor the view of his ten acre vineyard next to the winery.
During our conversation on that Friday evening Rich told me his vineyard had made it through this past winter in good shape but had experienced an unusual frost event after the flowers had emerged. Rich and I went out into the vineyard where he showed me how frost had covered the ground and coated the tops of the vines roughly five feet above the
ground. The strange thing was that there was a zone between three and four feet off the ground that did not frost. The flowering tops of the vines in that zone remained frost-free and undamaged despite the lack of overstory growth to protect them. What caused this curious phenomenon is hard to say but while a frost is never welcome it didn’t damage enough of the flowers to have a negative effect on this years crop.
Rich pointed out the young Cabernet Sauvignon vines he had planted to replace the “Old” Cab vines he had lost to winter damage a couple of years ago. While his new Cab vines continue to mature Rich will buy Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from the Lanza Vineyard in California. The Lanza Vineyards are in the Suisun Valley just east of Napa Valley. Grapes from Lanza are used to produce the exceptional wines of the Wooden Valley Winery. Pete Abdulovic, winery manager at Ripepi told me an interesting side note on their grape purchase. During a recent visit to the Napa Valley he made a stop in the Suisun Valley and when he was tasting there he heard that the Caymus Winery had leased a considerable
Lanza Vineyards Suisun Valley, California Photo Courtesy : Pete Adbulovic
amount of vineyard acreage surrounding the Lanza Vineyards and throughout the Suisun Valley to supply grapes for their iconic Caymus wines. It will be very interesting to follow the transformation of these grapes from start to finish and taste what characteristics Rich can coax out of them.
At the end of the evening as we were saying our goodbyes Rich told me he had ordered Saperavi vines to plant in a one half acre section of his vineyard from Grafted Grapevine Nursery Clifton Springs, NY. He was hopeful that they would be able to fill his order because the demand for these vines has created a supply shortage. The increasing popularity of this grape is due in large part to the very good wine that the only four North American producers of Saperavi are offering to the public. When Rich gets his vines he will become the second vineyard in Pennsylvania to grow Saperavi commercially joining Fero Vineyards & Winery in Lewisburg. Chuck Zaleski, owner/winemaker of Fero planted his first Saperavi vines in 2010 and released his first vintage from the 2013 harvest.
Ripepi Winery & Vineyard will be hosting their annual Holiday Open House Saturday, November 21, 2015 from 11:00-6:00 at the winery 93 Van Voorhis Lane, Monongahela Pa. The event will feature free appetizers & wine tastings, gift basket give – aways, seasonal wines and many unique gifts. ripepiwine.com 724-292-8351
Diamond Grapes Photo Courtesy: Cornell University
The white grape Diamond is a cross between the Concord and Iona (Vitis Vinifera –labrusca hybrid) grape developed in Western New York during the mid 1880’s. This grape had a major influence on winemaking in the Eastern U.S. during most of the 20th century. The high sugar content of this grape also makes it a desirable table grape as well as an excellent source of grape juice. Despite being one of the few white American grapes varieties used to produce dry wine the recent plantings of Diamond have declined with the trend toward European varietals. Although Diamond can be found in many AVA’s in the U.S. and around the world it is most prominent in New York and Pennsylvania.
Rich Ripepi at Ripepi Winery in Monongahela, Pa has taken this traditional American grape and updated it to suit the taste of today’s wine drinkers. Ripepi Diamond is a dry wine but not so dry that the fruity taste of the Diamond grape is lost in translation. It’s body comes across as being lighter and crisper because of it’s lower residual sugar, making it a wine that is easy to drink. Stylish and balanced are the two words I would use to describe Ripepi Diamond. I have tasted plenty of Diamond, most are too sweet, one even had a large red-hot pepper in the bottle, but I can honestly say that Ripepi Dry Diamond was the best Diamond that I have tasted. I think that if the Diamond grape is going to experience a revival it will have to be made in a non-traditional style. Rich Ripepi has told me many times that when it comes to winemaking “It’s all about the style.”
Rows of Cabernet Sauvignon in the Ripepi Vineyard
Cabernet Sauvignon grapes
When Rich Ripepi, owner and winemaker of Ripepi Winery and Vineyard in Monongahela, Pa invited us to take part in the harvest at his vineyard we gladly accepted. It was a beautiful early fall day as we walked from the winery to the rows of Cabernet Sauvignon vines in the adjacent vineyard. We picked up our clippers from the tool bucket, located a section of unharvested vines by the empty bins laid out beneath them and went to work. It wasn’t too long before Rich came by and his excitement about this years harvest was written all over his face. He talked in glowing terms about how well the grapes had ripened during the month of September because of the warm weather and plentiful sunshine from the nearly cloudless skies. I asked Rich how he determined when it was time to pick and he told me he uses all the traditional methods like Brix (these berries were 23), acidity and other factors but what it really all comes down to is if he tastes the grapes and they taste ripe to him then it is time to pick. After a very wet summer which called for a more robust spraying program and more cultivation than normal there was an amazing turn of events that lead to this being one of the best harvest ever. We took a break and walked with Rich to the winery where the pressing of the Traminette grapes which were picked earlier that day was nearing completion. After being destemed the grapes were mixed with rice husks to make it easier to press out the juice. Rich grabbed a glass and said “Do you want to taste it?” as he fills it with the freshly press juice that flows from the press, it was sweet and full of flavor. While walking back to the vineyard to finish picking, Rich relates the most interesting stories about his evolving journey as a winemaker which makes the time pass quickly as we strip the last vines of their fruit. We would like to say “Thank You” to Rich Ripepi for inviting us to share this experience with him and his family. More information about the Ripepi Winery and their award-winning wines can be found at www.Ripepiwine.com