Category Archives: Events

Is Jeff Parks the Lehigh Valley’s Steve Jobs?

No…Jeff does not have a closet filled with black turtlenecks…the similarities are at a different level. In fact, it is more about perception and the strong reactions they generate, from both fans and critics, than about the men themselves.

Both men tend to have polarizing effects on people. There are lots of fan-boys and lots of haters, and seemingly few in between. I say seemingly because I think there are actually as many if not more who lie somewhere between fan-boy and hater, but they just tend not to be as vocal.

Both men have turned their vision into hugely successful products and both have remained synonymous with their brand. You don’t become one with your brand without being, to some extent, a control freak. Take the criticism that Apple receives for their tightly regulated iPhone App process, the whole no Flash thing, heck even the fact that you can’t just pop out the iPhone battery, and compare that with complaints about food and beverage tickets at Musikfest, what some believe was the rerouting of Musikfest over the years away from Joe’s Tavern and Ripper’s to reduce non-fest beer sales, and conspiracy theories that Jeff Parks was behind the sudden enforcement of open container laws at the beginning of the 2010 Musikfest, also to prevent non-fest beer sales.

As the center of their brands, the center of their respective universes, it is also hard to imagine their organizations without them. Critics can be found in the comments sections of local on-line newspapers calling for Jeff Parks to step down from Musikfest, that somehow the organization he built from his vision would be better without him. While I may not agree 100% of the time with the changes that Parks makes with Musikfest, I couldn’t imagine it without him behind it. The guy knows what he is doing but you will never please all the people all of the time. I see the three most probable possibilities with someone else at the helm as: 1) just about status quo (no changes, no evolution, someone takes over and they just follow the current recipe, an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude) 2) a gated festival 3) an attempt to “fix” the festival, based on critical feedback resulting in lower food and beverage tickets, an attempt to get “more relevant artists” and soon after finding that those high food and beverage tickets are high for a reason and the whole thing going under in a year or two.

We all know that Steve Jobs is stepping back from Apple. He remains as Chairman but he has health issues and eventually there will be an Apple without him at all. What will that look like? I think the possibilities are similar to Musikfest without Parks: 1) reduced innovation due to “following the recipe” 2) a new culture that is more about profit than product or 3) an attempt to “fix” things based on critics only to find that there was a method to his madness.

Of course, the hope for either would be for the organizations to continue the same vision as their founders, similar to Disney after Walt Disney died. Unfortunately while Disney shows us this is a forth possibility it is by no means automatic and is easily the most difficult outcome to achieve.

Apple has its fan-boys and its haters, as does Musikfest. Apple fan-boys see no faults, get every new product the day it comes out-camping overnight even though they can buy it on day 2 with no line and for hundreds of dollars less if they wait 60 days. They have a retort for every critic. If Steve says they should hold the phone differently, they do. They don’t jailbreak. Similarly, Musikfest fan-boys have no patience for beer bootleggers, plan their days actually around performances, performances they are eternally grateful to see for “free” and they totally get that their beer and food purchases subsidize them. Therefore, all of their food and beer purchases are with tickets and from tents. They do their Christmas shopping in Handwerkplatz and the Merchandise tent. They know the platzes by name, they use the shuttles, and if they are able to go every day, they do. Any given day of the year they know how many days there are to Musikfest. The fan-boy pre-orders both the non-light up and light up Musikfest mug (one for day, one for night) and they have a shrine of every Musikfest mug (even the ones before they were insulated with caps) in their basement. They correct you when you call “Cast in Bronze” the “Bell-Guy.”

Apple also has “one-product fans” who are not fans of the entire brand but they have an Apple product they just can’t live without. Many are PC users with an iPhone (like myself). They don’t like all the Apple “rules” but they play along for the most part because the product is so much better than anything else out there. Musikfest has similar non-fan-boy fans. They aren’t blind to the faults and they will criticize. Maybe it’s the price of tickets, maybe it’s the teenagers on Main Street, maybe they think all the main stage acts are washed up or the beer selection stinks. Whatever the complaints, there is still a product at Musikfest they cannot resist and they go. They may buy some, most, or all of their beer at local bars instead of with tickets but they will get enough tickets for a Hogar Crea shish kabob and an Aw Shucks corn, a Theo’s Gyro, and a taco from Take a Taco or the Holy Infancy Melting Pot. They stock up on salsa from the Salsa Guy too. They attend several days and go more for the hanging out, less for the music. They may have a few shows they know they want to check out, but often they are just stumbling on acts. The one product fan has a recent Musikfest mug, it may even be the current year. They call “Cast in Bronze” the “Bell Guy.”

Then there are the jailbreakers. They love the product but not the rules. They laugh when you say you can’t run Flash on the iPhone or that you have to pay extra to tether. At Musikfest the jailbreakers bring their own beer, in strollers, in cars parked near by. They know the secret free parking spots or they live close enough to walk. Many have grown up with Musikfest in their backyards and know all the tricks. Others are newbies who think they are hot shots and get busted. All pride themselves on working the system. Most get that the free shows are supported by food and beverage tickets but also know that Musikfest has already factored their jail breaking ways into the equation, let the “suckers” pay for it. Some jailbreakers are there for the music, many are there for the ability to walk around with a beer on the street. The jailbreaker has an old Musikfest mug from 2002 that his buddy left at his house. He may have drilled a hole in the lining. He calls “Cast in Bronze” the “The Creepy Bell Guy” if he knows who he is at all.

Then we have the haters. Apple haters won’t go within 100 ft of an Apple store. They have lost friends when they switched from PC/Blackberry/Android to Apple. They write posts called “Steve Jobs Exposed as a Terrorist” Similarly, Musikfest haters troll the local newspaper websites and blog for every Musikfest article ever written and complain about trash in their yards, drunks peeing in their bushes, the price of beer, conspiracy theories about Jeff Parks spending tax payers money or being in the pocket of the Liquor Control Board They schedule vacations the week of Musikfest, but not to attend-to get the hell out of Dodge. I think some haters actually secretly want to enjoy Musikfest but have been so outspoken about it they have to save face and not go. I imagine them attending secretly, in disguise. Haters don’t own a Musikfest mug, or they have one they found one at a yard sale and wrote something obscene on it with a Sharpie. They’ll swear up and down they don’t know who “The Bell Guy” is.

So there you have it. Jeff Parks is the Lehigh Valley’s Steve Jobs and therefore Musikfest is our Apple.

Where are you in the mix? Honestly I’m a bit of each of the above. Fanboy in that I take vacation every year and go almost every day, know all the platzes, buy my mugs early (no blinky ones) and I’m an Artsquest member. One Product fan in that I don’t buy all my beer in tents, I complain about the main stage acts some years (not this year) and I tend to stroll more than plan. I’m also a bit of a jailbreaker, but I won’t get into that here ;). I’m not really a hater, but I will occasionally partake in weaving a conspiracy theory or two.

Update #2 on Summer To-do List

Ringing Rocks We went here on our day off last Friday, each of us with a hammer, even little Hailey. I was impressed by her ability to scramble across the boulder field with very little help and she had a blast making the rocks ring and hiking through the woods. Here’s a demo:

Easton Farmer’s Market

Hailey and I went last Saturday because the Crayola Factory was celebrating their 15th Birthday. Hailey is usually interested, at least briefly, with shopping at the farmer’s markets, but not so much when the Crayola Factory is having a block party! I managed to buy some soap that looks and smells like a creamsicle, wine, and farmer’s cheese. Over at the party Hailey insisted on climbing the rock wall.


Blueberry Festival

After getting back from Easton Hailey and I hopped on my bike (I have a trailer she rides in) and rode over to the blueberry festival. I was bummed not to come back with a blueberry pie this year, there was a fire that day at the bakery in Easton that supplies the festival.

Still left on the list, although I don’t see much action coming up this weekend with the heat wave. I will be found either in the AC or at the pool!

  1. Peddler’s Village – ran this past the family when we went to Ringing Rocks…they voted for New Hope instead…which was a lot of fun. We’ll still see if we can fit it in.
  2. Philadelphia Zoo – might fit this in on the staycation during Musikfest. We’ll see.
  3. The beach. Booked a place in Cape May right on the beach. My original choice, Margate, has no hotels and house rentals require a week. So we opted for Cape May instead and let me tell you getting a room there with only three weeks notice was not an easy task either. Most hotels and B&Bs require a minimum stay of 2-4 nights and we just didn’t want to eat up that much of our Musikfest staycation. Also, many of the B&Bs hate children under 8, or even 11. That’s right, they do not allow children under those ages to stay. Very frustrating.
  4. Baltimore Inner Harbor, MD. We’ll see. Not seeing a whole lot of opportunity to get this off the list, may have to move to next year’s list, but we shall see.
  5. Hawk Mountain still see this happening in September
  6. Lancaster County if not the summer we should be able to do this in the fall. I started following a furniture place on twitter and I love their tiger maple pieces. Would love to visit.
  7. Martin on Main barring any unforeseen circumstances, I should be there.
  8. Lunch at Starter’s Clubhouse if it weren’t for the heat wave I could have snuck this one in this coming weekend. This should be doable over the staycation.
  9. Hershey Park not sure about this one either. Husband thinks there isn’t enough for Hailey to go on (I believe she’s still under 40 inches, maybe 39 inches). I haven’t been here since 6th grade so I don’t really remember what they have. I think she would enjoy the chocolate tour (chocolate is her favorite food). Admission is pretty steep so I don’t want to blow it if she’s too young to really enjoy it. Any comments?

Speaking of comments please share what you’ve been up to this summer or if you think my list is missing anything!

Summer To-do List Update

Quick update on the Summer to-do list and two additions! With 5 days off over the holiday weekend I had a lot of time to cross off some of my to-do list:

  1. Knoebels we went the Friday before 4th of July for the second year in a row and it seems to be a great day to go, low crowds during the day, walk right onto kiddie rides and the big kid rides didn’t seem to have very long lines either. Later in the evening, right around the time we were getting tired anyway, it started to get more crowded. The same thing happened last year, probably the result of two things: 1) people leaving the pool/water park 2) cheaper evening all ride bracelets. Money saving tip: on weekdays you can buy ride bracelets, about $20 for little one’s like Hailey (under 48″ I believe) and then the ‘rents can use tickets to get on a few rides (we used $18 in tickets between the two of us). We didn’t make it over to the pool that day, next time. (On a sad note, there was a tragedy at the Crystal Pool on Wednesday, very sad).
  2. Lehigh Valley Zoo, Hailey and I visited on Sunday afternoon and I renewed our family membership while we were there. The otters were sleeping so we missed seeing them swimming around but the penguins were having a blast in their pool. Bad parenting move: I told Hailey to stand on the bench so she could reach the goats at the top of the fence and two goats almost knocked her off the bench…oops. And of course I snapped a picture first before catching her. She had a blast though!
  3. Kutztown Folk Festival Hailey, my mom and I went here on Tuesday, it still runs through July 10th. We had a good time, I spent too much money on who knows what, Hailey was just interested in the bouncy rides and the tractor train. The highlight of the trip was when my mom yelled at all the customers at the kite stand ” You realize they are all MADE IN CHINA…DON’T YOU?!?” It was pretty funny…I see where I get it from. She has a good point too. All of the other stands are pretty much handcrafted goods, then you have this huge sea of lawn flags and kites in the middle of it all, and everything is manufactured in China. It’s one thing if you go to a big box store, it is sadly expected, but at a craft show it is inappropriate, yet they are there every year. My best purchase was a (handmade in the USA) wooden spatula. I’ve been looking for a non-plastic, non-metal spatula for flipping eggs. This should work out well.

All this extra time on my hands over the weekend also gave me the chance to think of a couple of things I missed on my original list:

  1. Hershey Park, I haven’t been here since my 6th grade field trip. Someone just told me that it’s about $50 regular price to get in here so I’ll be looking for some good discount tickets. Hailey loves chocolate and I think she’ll not only enjoy some of the rides, but the chocolate tour.
  2. Ringing Rocks, Upper Black Eddy, Bucks County, this is a great free thing to check out. Bring a little hammer and you can bang on the rocks and they ring like bells. It’s a nice bonus to a day hike.

So that’s a total of 5 things off my list and 2 new things added…looks like it will be a busy summer.

Summer To-do List….before it’s gone…

I can’t believe it’s already the last day of June! I’ve been meaning to throw together a list of things I’d like to get done this summer, not really a bucket list because, with two exceptions, these are things I’ve done before. It’s more like a summer “to-do” list. Some I do just about every year, some have become more recent traditions, others I haven’t done in many years and want to head back. Some I have actually already crossed off my list because…well…I did them before I got around to putting this post together. I’ll knock those out first. Some of these are in the Lehigh Valley, other’s are road trips. They are all family friendly and are either primarily outdoors or at a minimum have an outdoor component.

  1. Longwood Gardens, Kennette Square PA. I did this one Father’s Day weekend (Saturday) and we sprang for the fireworks tickets. When I ordered them I thought they were a bit pricey but they were soooo worth it! It was a 40 minute display with fireworks, fountains and music (check the schedule for the themes). I plan on doing a full write up one of these days, including some of the pictures I took, but for now I will say we loved it, it wasn’t overly crowded even though it was a Saturday and we had beautiful weather. Also, be sure to check the website for the calendar that tells you when fountains are running. If there is a drought the fountains may also not be running. Trust me, you really want to see the fountains.
  2. Iron Pigs I love Coca-Cola Park, and the Iron Pigs organization does a great job at keeping you entertained. Even if you aren’t a huge baseball fan, just get general admission tickets and enjoy the great food, entertainment, good beer, and even the playground for the kids. Tip: If you have a smart phone they have bypass lanes at this park, super helpful when the lines are long. I actually already crossed this one off my list already too…but who knows maybe I’ll be back yet this summer.
  3. Knoebels, Elysburg PA. I love this amusement park. It’s about a 2 hour drive away, short enough for a day trip, or you can camp there. I’m headed here for a day over the holiday weekend, there were no camp sites available (I wasn’t really expecting any, I called a week before 4th of July weekend). The best way I can describe Knoebel’s is that it reminds me of Dorney Park before Cedar Fair ruined it. No admission fee, pay for the rides you go on, good mix of kiddie and grown-up rides, food isn’t too expensive and there is a water park too. Oh and a bonus…very few hoochie mama’s at this park, and most kids, even teenagers, have parents close by.
  4. Lehigh Valley Zoo, I love this zoo because you can choose to spend an hour or a whole day here. No travel, no traffic, no lines, no crowds, no fuss. My favorites are the penguins and the river otters. There are lots of opportunities to get up close to the animals too. Last year I was attacked by a lorikeet, which of course my husband and daughter got a huge kick out of. I recommend buying a membership, your admission for a year is included and you get 1/2 admission to participating partner zoos (including the Philadelphia Zoo).
  5. Kutztown Folk Festival PA Dutch food, all sorts of crafts, demonstrations, petting zoo’s and entertainment for kids. I don’t recommend bothering with the bounce house area, it is way too hot. Even if you aren’t a quilt person, check out the quilt barn. It’s air-conditioned, trust me. Also, after last year’s fiasco, I will be leaving Chris at home this year. He thought he would like it, I told him he wouldn’t, I was right, he complained the entire time. The festival runs July 2-10 this year.
  6. Peddler’s Village, Lahaska PA (Bucks County, near New Hope) I haven’t been here in about 10 years. I’d like to go back but this trip will be more for me than for the family. Lots of shopping and quaintness.
  7. Philadelphia Zoo This place brings back lots of childhood memories for both me and my husband. It’s been two years since we brought Hailey here, so I think its time again. This zoo does however have all the driving, traffic, and crowds that the Lehigh Valley Zoo does not. I’m sure I’ll be bitchy and crabby by the end of the day, but it will be worth it. The trade-off is the size and diversity of animals. Don’t forget Lehigh Valley Zoo members get 1/2 admission, bring your membership cards!
  8. The beach. Probably the Jersey Shore again, last year we went to see Lucy at Margate on a weekday. It was super quiet and no Snooki sightings. I’d like to do something similar again this year, Hailey loved the beach.
  9. Baltimore Inner Harbor, MD. I mostly want to go to the Aquarium, but that is indoors, so I’m saying all of Inner Harbor so it meets the “outside component” requirement for this list. I haven’t been here in over 10 years and I think Hailey is old enough now to appreciate it.
  10. Blueberry Festival, Burnside Plantation, Bethlehem PA. You kind of have to like crafts, history, or blueberries to enjoy yourself here. Lucky me I like all three!
  11. Hawk Mountain, Kempton PA. I haven’t been here since I was in college. I’ll probably check this out closer to the end of summer in September. The chances of seeing a bald eagle are better then.
  12. Lancaster County. I’d like to check out some of the furniture stores, or at least go back to Shady Maple. I haven’t been there since college either.
  13. Martin on Main, Nazareth. This is only one of two on this list that I have never been too. I understand there are crafts, music, food and such. It coincides with the first Saturday of Musikfest and I’m usually pretty busy that day. This year though I’m going to try to make it.
  14. Easton Farmer’s Market. I love farmer’s markets, especially ones that are in city center’s and not on parking lots. This is one of my favorites, lots of urban charm here.
  15. Lunch at Starter’s Clubhouse. The pictures on the deck look so nice, I need to check this out, this is the only other one on this list that will be a first for me. Maybe I’ll play a round on the executive course too…I’ll have to dust off my clubs.

Bucket List Update…I’m Slacking

Back in January, one of my first blog posts was a personal bucket list of local attractions that I have never been to and want to cross of my list in 2011. So how is it going? Of late….not so good. In the beginning I crossed off a few items rather quickly. I thought that June, mid-year, would be a good time to look back and review my progress and regain some momentum.

So here’s what I’ve done so far:

  1. America On Wheel’s Museum  – see my post
  2. Visit a local vineyardsee my post
  3. Souper Bowl at Banana Factorysee my post

Three things. I did three things, that’s it??? And all three of these were crossed off by mid-February!

So here’s what I didn’t do, along with my sorry excuses…

  1. Easton State Theatre – I originally wrote:
    “Everything I am interested in seeing is always sold out by the time I hear about it or the cost is not in-line with my level of interest.” Pretty much the same thing is happening. I either fail to check the schedule or I do find something I’m sort of interested in but the price is higher than my interest (for example, Bryan Adams).
  2. Any number of restaurants in Easton I have yet to get to. We aren’t big restaurant goers…my husband doesn’t care for crowds and we have a kid. Might have to turn this one into a birthday dinner.
  3. Godfrey Daniels – busy weekends…wanted to take Hailey to a storytelling event but was already over booked. Need to take another look at the schedule.
  4. Touchstone Theater – I’d like to get there sooner but if I don’t, I plan on seeing the Christmas Follies in December.
  5. Gio’s Italian Grill in Macungie – I jinxed myself. This was supposed to be a done deal…my reunion was supposed to be here but it got hijacked and turned into a picnic. I must admit the picnic was a lot of fun, not that Gio’s wouldn’t have been good, but it was great seeing everyone’s kids so it worked out for the best. Even if that means I have to make new plans to cross this off the list.
  6. Historic Bethlehem Cemetery Tours this is in October so I’m still ok…for now.
  7. Renninger’s Antiques and Collectors Extravaganza in Kutztown. I made plans to go to the June Extravaganza with a friend who also loves antiques. They are moving into a new house in July and she has sworn off buying more stuff that they will have to pack and move so we rescheduled for September’s Extravaganza.
  8. Glass blowing and/or photography classes at the Banana Factory. I found the class I want to take (a photography class where you make a book) but I forgot to sign up and I think it already started. I’ll have to check the next schedule.
  9. Martin Guitar Tour – I’m going to go to this when I’m on vacation for Musikfest in August.

To be honest, I’d be happy if I got through more than half of this list this year. I think the hardest one for me is going to be the State Theatre and maybe the Banana Factory class, depending on what is offered and when. 

I’m also making a summer to-do list. Not really a bucket list because many of the things I’ve already done previously, but just want to get there again. Hopefully I’ll get around to writing a post about it soon.

Did you make a bucket list for this year? How are you doing with it? Let me know in the comments! 


Mother’s Day Brunch Ideas

I started this Mother’s Day brunch requirement…errr…. tradition early on. From the time I was pregnant with Hailey I knew that I wanted brunch at Hotel Bethlehem to be my Mother’s Day tradition. Unfortunately for me…my husband is not one for doing things like making reservations so for my first Mother’s Day the Hotel brunch was booked and we went to the Brew Works instead.  The following year, even after persistent nag…err reminders, my husband did not make reservations for the Hotel Bethlehem brunch in time so I made reservations at Bolete. The following year and from that point forward I took matters into my own hands and I make my own Mother’s Day brunch reservations at the Hotel Bethlehem each year. Sigh.

Each of the three places has something a bit different to offer, so here are my takes on each of them:

Bethlehem Brew Works. Keep in mind that it’s been 4 years since I’ve had my Mother’s Day brunch here so the offering could be a bit different today. They offered a Mother’s Day brunch with no reservation requirement. The food was standard brunch fare and they had good Bloody Mary’s. Also, the Bethlehem Fine Arts Commission’s Art Sale is on Main Street on Monday’s so the location is perfect if you want to incorporate this into your Mother’s Day as I do every year. Pros: Location, no reservations-perfect for last-minute plans, good drinks, casual,  louder atmosphere so if you have real little ones they won’t stick out when they start crying, good price, very flexible Cons: Food is ok but standard-doesn’t stand out, lacks a special Mother’s Day ambiance

Bolete. I was able to get in here with a table for three calling a few weeks before Mother’s Day. I called about 1-2 weeks ago as research for this post and they said they had some openings for smaller parties but were not taking any more reservations for larger (6 or more) parties. Bolete’s food is amazing and Mother’s Day brunch is no exception. This is not a brunch, they offer a special menu with a mix of brunch options, some more breakfasty-others less breakfasty. When I was there it was served as three courses. I had the best blueberry pancake in my life here. On the menu: Blueberry Pancake……$10. Yes it was one pancake (not huge, normal size) for $10. And it was so worth every penny. The food here is farm fresh and cooked to order. I was not a fan of the Mimosas or the Bloody Mary. If you have impatient toddlers it may be challenging. Also, Bolete’s location is a short drive to Main St. for the Art Sale, but it’s not the same as walking out from Brunch into the middle of the sale. Pros: the food is amazing, small intimate experience, not buffet style, nice Mother’s Day ambiance, can generally get reservations weeks ahead rather than months ahead, perfect for families where kids are older. Cons: location (not walkable to other activities like Art Sale), drinks in my opinion were not great, slower service (because food is carefully prepared, cooked to order) may not be ideal for young children, less casual than other options (this can be good or bad depending on your preference), portions are smaller (you will not be stuffed-this can be good too)

Hailey at Mother’s Day Brunch, Hotel Bethlehem, 2009

Hotel Bethlehem. Call months ahead for this if you want to get in. Seriously. Months. A few days before Mother’s Day you will receive a call from them not only confirming your reservation but asking you to reconfirm the number in your party and to provide credit card information so they can charge you if you don’t show up. Because this brunch is in such high demand they want to make sure that not only you show up but that your entire party shows up. I haven’t had the experience of showing up without my entire party or not at all so I don’t know how well they enforce this but I’m thinking they are serious if they go through the trouble of calling everyone and requiring the credit card info in advance. I must admit this practice put me off a bit but once you are at the brunch it will all be worth it, trust me. If you have been to any Hotel Bethlehem brunch you know that they do a really nice job and they kick it up several notches for Mother’s Day. They also have an expanded children’s buffet area that included a make your own cupcake station last year. It was super cute. They have coloring activities for the kids to keep them busy too. Hailey loves the formality with the white table clothes and is pretty well-behaved here. She eventually gets over acting like a princess at a formal function and spends most of the remainder of the brunch under the table in her fortress. While the food is buffet style, which I usually find ho-hum, the quality is high.  They have the expected omelette and carving stations as well as some surprises, especially in the seafood selection. And when brunch is over you can step straight outside and browse the Art Sale. Pros: Best Mother’s Day ambiance of the bunch, cannot beat the location, food is very good, Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s are excellent, great for kids of all ages, beautiful views, moderate price, formal feel but you can still be pretty casual here Cons: have to make reservations in advance, not good for go with the flow types (changing number of guests, last-minute cancellations), confirmation process can be off-putting, buffet style (some people like my husband are not a fan of buffets)

If you have any Mother’s Day experiences or preferences please share in the comments!

Bucket List Update – Wine Trail, Long Trout Winery kicks ass!

Back in January I put together a list of things in or around the Lehigh Valley that I’ve always wanted to do but never got around to doing. My goal is to get as many of these crossed off the list as possible in 2011.

I crossed number 10 off of my list this past Valentine’s weekend. I went on the Berks Wine Trail Chocolate and Wine tour and not only visited one local winery but six! Although at one of them, Calvaresi, we  didn’t get a chance to actually taste anything, because everyone was hogging the tasting area and we left, but it was all good.

What a great day! Friends, Wine, Chocolate, and I didn’t have to drive. How could it not have been?

We started off at Pinnacle Ridge, which to me was most like a traditional winery. It’s in an old stone barn and the wines were closest to what I would normally drink at home. I brought home a bottle of Veritas which they describe as “A unique blend of our Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon — only produced in finest vintages. This is filled with aromas of toasty oak, vanilla, & black fruits; aged 16 months in American Oak.”

Next we went to Blair. My favorite part about this place was that you drive through the vineyard to get to the winery. I think this was the only place where I actually noticed the vines, you couldn’t miss them if you tried. Their wines weren’t my taste, but I did pick up a bottle of  Pinot Gris and this freezer bag contraption to make frozen Peach Bellini’s. I can’t wait for summer!

Then we were off to Long Trout Winery. I could have stayed here all day. They have a combination of grape wines and fruit wines, and surprisingly, as more of a dry red person, I kept trying mostly the fruit wines-they were soooo delicious. The place is a hippie haven and the tasting room looks like a cross between someone’s basement bar and a college bar like Shorty’s in Kutztown before they remodeled. The place is covered floor to ceiling in 60’s memorabilia, about 75% of it Beatles. I was in heaven! The people are friendly and it’s a really laid back atmosphere, even when the place was so packed you couldn’t move. The visitors even helped each other find the bottles of wine they were looking for and passed them across the crowd to the requester. They had three chocolate wines for the wine and chocolate pairing, countless berry wines, including a Bell Bottom Blueberry that was rather dry for a berry wine. The wine names are cute and creative (ie. Instant “O”, Forever Strawberry Fields, Yellow Snow) and the bottlenecks are tye dyed. They even have a disc golf field! They are also working on an addition that is more modern that the basement bar room, yet it should still match the vibe with its double doors that form a peace sign when closed and the wooden loft area. Hopefully people like the spaciousness of the new room and that will leave me more elbow room in the hippie bar! I left this place with 7 bottles, and I’m not even a sweet wine person!

Next was Bashore & Stoudt. They specialize in fruit wines as the fruit comes from Stoudt Orchards. This place was pretty crowded and there was a long wait in  line before you could taste anything. I’m not a fan of sweet fruit wines, and they were all very typical sweet fruit wines. I actually had to turn away samples because I was getting queasy from the sweetness. I saw other people enjoying them so if sweet is your thing, give it a try.

Next was Calvaresi, the inside was kind of cool because you could see the stainless tanks. I’m more of an oak wine person so I was not disappointed when we left before tasting anything because the visitors were hogging the wine tasting area.

The final stop was Clover Hill. They had a really nice gift shop and tasting area and a wider range of wine styles, which was welcome after all the sweet wines. They were having a big sale on their wine racks as well, up to 70% off. I believe it is still going on.

The only winery I was compelled to take pictures of was Long Trout. And most of them were of the memorabilia rather than the wine. The John Lennon picture is actually the wall paper…on the entire ceiling! If you want to check out more pictures click on the pictures posted here to go to my Flickr page.

I would absolutely go back to both Long Trout and Pinnacle Ridge. I’d also like to try some of the wineries on the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail (Pinnacle and Clover Hill are on both the Lehigh Valley and Berks Wine Trails).