The Convincing Case for Pennsylvania Cabernet Franc
Cabernet franc is grown in an increasing number of east-coast states and produces wines of varying quality.
But just because one can grow something, doesn’t mean one should.
After spending three full days sampling Pennsylvania wines from the state’s top wineries, I feel there is a convincing case for cabernet franc as one of the state’s shining red varietals.
Larry Shrawder, proprietor of Stony Run Winery in Kempton, Pennsylvania feels cabernet franc has a future in the state.
“This [cabernet franc] is what we think will be the red wine of the area,” notes Shrawder.
Tasting Stony Run’s cabernet franc, you get a sense of how its take on the grape follows a ripe, cabernet-franc style.
It’s a style that is common in new-world cabernet franc which leaves behind many of the green-and-grassy notes often associated with old-world (especially Loire) cabernet franc.
Regarding the absence of green notes, Grandview Vineyard’s winemaker, Larry Kennel, is more to point.
“I don’t like green flavors in cabernet franc.”
Kennel waits until all of his cabernet-franc clusters are fully ripe before picking.
He doesn’t pick green grapes, even when some bunches may have varying levels of ripeness at harvest.
Grandview’s resulting cabernet franc reflects Kennel’s philosophy revealing ripe, bramble-and-black-plum fruit.
Pennsylvania’s cabernet franc grape potential is also echoed by Jan Grimes, vineyard manager at Galer Estate Vineyard and Winery.
Galer Estate produces cabernet franc in a ripe, slightly-jammy style.
“It [cabernet franc] is consistent and is a good performer,” notes Grimes.
Given the realities of climate change this is an especially attractive attribute of the grape.
Cabernet franc’s success lies is its ability to survive winters in the vineyard as well as its ability to deliver in your glass.
On both accounts the grape is showing promise.
Whether cabernet franc will emerge as Pennsylvania’s leading, red-vinifera varietal is yet to be determined, but there is convincing evidence that it is a contender for the throne.
Below are some Pennsylvania cabernet francs to try out when you visit:
- Galer Estate, Cabernet Franc 2017, Chester County, Pennsylvania (Wine Casual, 90 Points)
- Grandview Vineyard, Cabernet Franc 2016, Lancaster, Pennsylvania (Wine Casual, 90 Points)
- Setter Ridge Vineyards, Cabernet Franc 2016, Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania (Wine Casual, 90 Points)
- Stony Run, Reserve Cabernet Franc 2016, Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania (Wine Casual, 91 Points)
- Penns Woods, Cabernet Franc Reserve 2014, Pennsylvania (Wine Casual, 93 Points)
- Vox Vineti, Polyphony 2015, Galloping Cat Vineyard, Pennsylvania (Wine Casual, 94 Points)