The Cullari Vineyards and Winery is the newest member of the Uncork York Wine Trail in Central Pennsylvania. Founded in 2007, Cullari Vineyards is the culmination of over 40 years of wine making for owner Salvatore Cullari. A native of Italy, Salvatore has a long family tradition of wine making but until recently, only family and friends were lucky enough to enjoy the fruit of his labor. The Cullari family has a farm located a couple of miles from the tasting room and began growing wine grapes there in 2000. As of now, the Cullaris have about four acres of the farm dedicated to growing grapes. This land accounts for about 65% of the grapes that are featured in their wines. The rest of the grapes that make up the 5,000 gallons of wine they produce each year are grown at various locations within 350 miles of the winery.
Brenda and I arrived at the tasting room at 1251 E. Chocolate Ave. in Hershey, PA on a cold gray Sunday afternoon. We were greeted at the door by Dante Cullari, Salvatore’s son. It was apparent from the beginning that Dante is as passionate about the wine as his father and that the family business will be in very good hands for many years to come. Dante showed us around the tasting room and described some of the wines before we sat down to taste.
Dante was especially enthusiastic about Cullari’s White on White and Old Country Red wines. The White on White is a unique semi-dry wine that can only be purchased at the winery. Sine I’m not a wine expert, I’ll just say that it had a crisp, fresh taste that I found very enjoyable. The Cullari’s are especially proud that the 2007 supply of White on White sold out within a month of becoming available.
The Old County Red is blended from a “secret family recipe” of various vinifera grapes brought to this country from Europe. Salvatore Cullari has been making this very dry red wine for over 40 years. It’s dry feel and rich taste was definitely my favorite of the Cullari offerings. At a modest $11.00 per bottle, I’d strongly recommend Old Country Red to anyone who enjoys a dry wine with strong tannins.
Other Cullari specialty blends include a Simply Red series of three wines. Simply Red Number 1 is a blend of Chambourcin (a grape commonly grown in Pennsylvania) and Chancellor with a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon. Simply Red Number 2 is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Sangiovese grapes. Simply Red Number 3 blends equal amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc with a “hint” of hybrid grapes.
Cullari Vineyards and Winery also offers a complete line of traditional wines like Chardonnay, Niagra, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and for after dinner, they have two Port-style wines that will go great with your favorite chocolate or a fine cigar.
The Cullaris invite you to bring your picnic lunch and enjoy it on their deck, or when the weather is lousy like today, there is plenty of room inside to enjoy your food and a glass of wine. Wine by the glass is available for $3.00 except for the Ports style wines which are $5.00 per glass.
Cullari wines are also available at the Farmstead Farmers Market in Palmyra, Pennsylvania and are featured at Dafnoe’s Restaurant in Hershey.
Winter hours for the tasting room are Thursdays from 3:00 – 6:00 PM, Fridays from 3:00 – 7:00 PM, Saturdays from noon – 6:00 PM and Sundays from noon to 4:00 PM.