At Narcisi Winery in West Deer, Dennis Narcisi makes wine as his family has for generations in Italy. Like many local Italian immigrants, he maintains an old-world tradition even when his adopted land is less hospitable for growing grapes.
The lively, easy-drinking Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is the wine of his family's region among the hills in Abruzzo. Rather than attempt to re-create this popular varietal, Mr. Narcisi uses locally grown grapes or those from the Erie region to produce wines that lean toward sweet. His wines are reasonably priced, considering guests can drink them on-site, such as the Seyval Blanc ($15) and Niagara ($13) whites or the round Merlot ($18) and the semi-sweet Granato ($15).
A Gewurztraminer ($16) is the most interesting white wine. Made with a German grape grown locally, its lychee notes complement spicy foods. Among reds the Stella is most balanced, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes.
Visitors planning ahead can call to book a tour of the property weekend mornings, which includes discussion on winemaking, local grape varietals and blends. It wraps up with a five-wine tasting.
The winery also runs a restaurant, La Vite Ristorante, Wednesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner, with a menu of salads ($3-$17), pizzas ($12-$14), pastas ($15-$20) and meat-based entrees ($17-$30).
Service here is hit and miss. It's the tasting room that's most engaging. Visitors can stop by for samples and purchases or to hear bluegrass and singer-songwriters on the weekends. During the warm weather, the patio is the draw. Guests can bring a picnic to enjoy with a selection of wines. For now, it's closed until spring.
Take a sidelong glance and the Narcisi Winery may evoke a trip to Italy. At the very least, it's a relaxing place to sample wines and a charming getaway from the city.
Narcisi Winery, 4578 Gibsonia Road, West Deer; 724-444-4744; www.narcisiwinery.com. Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, till 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, till 8 p.m. Sunday.