Fero Vineyards & Winery recently released their Pinot Noir and Lemberger, which are part of one of the most eclectic wine lists from any producer in Pennsylvania.
Owners Chuck and Daneen Zaleski opened Fero Vineyards outside of Lewisburg, Union County, in 2012, building a following through quality dry wines made from Pennsylvania fruit.
These nearly 30 wines include dry and sparkling wines, and a blend of dry, semi-sweet and sweet wines. On the white side, they cultivate Gruner Veltliner, Pinot Gris and Riesling. On the red, they source Lemberger, Pinot Noir and Saperavi from their vineyards, the latter being an Eastern European grape that can only be found in a few vineyards in the Eastern United States.
Here is a story on a Finger Lakes winery that also makes Saperavi.
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These have proven to be the best quality grapes for the Fero vineyard, which started with Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Franc in 2004. Six years later, Chuck Zaleski said he had enough evidence to realize these would not thrive in the soil and climate of his vineyard. He didn’t even try the Chardonnay because he found it too plentiful.
In 2010, the Zaleskis planted 14,000 vines on a 13.5-acre site and would open two years later.
Away from the vineyard, they built a wedding pavilion in 2017 in the hope of increasing the number of visitors who have already come to the estate. The pandemic temporarily disrupted this side of the business for a while this spring and summer, but a glance at its Facebook page shows that part has returned.
Chuck said in an email earlier this week that the 2020 growing season is the best he’s seen in the more than 10 years that the experience has turned into a full-time business.
“We were able to harvest 44 tonnes of the cleanest, ripest fruit we’ve seen,” he said. “I have divided the Pinots into Pinot Noir Rouge and Dry Rose Production and Pinot Grigio Blanc, all reaching new levels on our site. The Gruner was also of high quality and very productive, which allowed me to do some yeast trials with different fermentation kinetics. Riesling has been harvested at several stages of maturity, from an early frothy base to late harvest dessert wines. Lemberger is our most reliable red year over year, but this year we produced more ripe, more colorful fruit. The Saperavi had an exceptional year but it will take two years to come out.
The Middle Susquehanna Valley experienced what the National Weather Service called a drought, he said, noting that for Fero Estate, this translated to an ideal growing season. “We got an inch or two of rain a month usually a day or two and bright sun most of the time. I was able to fill our vats with the best quality wine we have produced. We don’t know how this winter is going to go with the virus and the economy, but when things open up we’ll be ready with some really great wines grown in central Pennsylvania. “