Laura’s Little Corner at Hops & Vine
As the saying goes, “If some of these old roads could talk what stories they would tell.” Being born and raised here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, I have both ridden as a passenger and driven on many of them – from shortcuts through farm fields to navigating our area’s busiest highways and byways.
I want you all to join me as I embark on my latest adventure, discovering the current vibes as an insider of the local beer and wine industries and telling my own stories from my favorite fictitious intersection, the corner of Hops & Vine.
If someone had questioned me in my younger years if I thought some of the fields of my native Wyoming County and its surrounding counties would become filled with hops, the main ingredient to make beer which gives each blend its distinctive bitter taste, and grapevines for wine production, I would scarcely have believed it. Yet fast forward to today and we are seeing fields of both beginning to pop up all around us. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that there would be a hops farm now nestled in between Osterhout and Avery Mountain on Lane Hill where I grew up. I am truly in awe!
Pennsylvania and our local region has certainly come a long way in both industries. In the wine industry, we have truly blossomed with over a dozen wineries just in our area and are ranked in the top 10 in the United States for production. As far as brewing beer, our state is gradually going back to its native roots of growing hops which was a prolific crop over a century ago until it was literally almost wiped out by a plant disease of powdery mildew and then stopped by Prohibition.
Now in 2019, beer making has skyrocketed here with many new microbreweries (small producers), along with our established macro breweries (large scale producers) and a lot of brewpubs (a pub that makes and sells their beer on their premises) joining the scene. We fluctuate around the top 10 in our overall ranking for beer in the U.S. and actually are number 1 in the nation for craft beer (beer that is made in traditional or non-mechanized ways by a small brewery). With the above statistics and developing wine and ale trails combined with all of the vintner’s and brew master’s passion for their products, we can expect this industry to remain very prosperous.
As locally-produced wine and beer manufacturing continues to grow, so does the number of consumers. Not only do the customers want to have some remarkable local tastings, I am told by all, they want a full experience. Consumers are now pushing their pursuit not only for ultimate tastings, they want the facilities they are visiting to be a total destination where they can relax and unwind. Hence, some wineries and breweries are now offering both wine and beer selections even if they do not produce it Plus, more and more are providing live entertainment at times, offering trivia and other events, adding patios, and even adding food to keep up with the ever-changing market.
Also, as the demand for sales mature, the consumers’ palates do too. Tasters want flavors in both industries which are totally unique and set each one apart from the other. This surely ups the ante and keeps the vintners and brewers on their toes to keep developing outrageous blends and infusions, ciders, and newest taste sensations all while considering the allotment time for their creations to ferment.
So, in a never ending supply and demand, consumers are definitely an integral part and the industry is taking notice. Without marketing, selling, and listening to the tasters, our Pennsylvania wineries and breweries (and those just across the border in New York State) would not be flourishing like they are today!
I strongly urge you to get a driver and regularly hop on one of our region’s wine and ale routes! (To help you map out your route, check out the North Branch Guide to Wineries & Breweries in this issue.)
Take in the spectacular views you’ll encounter along the winding and mountainous roads, and quench your thirst with sips of the best award-winning locally-produced wines and beers. Your taste buds will definitely thank you and the trails will provide many adventures filled with memories that will last a lifetime!
Cheers my friends! I welcome your questions and comments. As we Irish say, until we meet again at Laura’s Little Corner at Hops & Vine.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Laura Yale and her husband, Dan, are the long-time owners of The Fireplace Restaurant, 6157 US-6, Tunkhannock, PA 18657. The restaurant proudly features a variety of local wines & beers, the artwork of local artists throughout, and locally-sourced foods as much as possible. The Fireplace Restaurant is open 11am-10pm daily, until 11pm Fridays and Saturdays.