When we were asked to make a quick road trip and hit every winery and brewery in Mercer County PA in one day we gave a huge, resounding YES! Never one’s to turn down a boozy tour, we let the fine folks at Visit Mercer County PA do the driving and we sat back, relaxed, and enjoyed the pretty views and delicious brews, wines, and spirits that the county has to offer. Here’s our 12-hour drive, step by delicious step!
We kicked off the tour with a visit to Wilhelm Winery in Hadley, PA. Since the year 2000, the winery began from a dream in the family basement to a full-on winery that includes a small museum, gift shop, and out patio area. Making over 20 varietals including fruit wines, we passed on the chance to taste test (it was 10 in the morning, after all) but came home with a bottle of Wilhelm Red- a best seller that we can’t wait to uncork.
Conneaut Cellars Winery & Distillery
No kidding, Conneaut Cellars Winery is a multiple-award winning winery. Founded in 1982, the company prides itself on its using the newest and best methods of making wine (we had a back end tour- so informative!) and if that wasn’t enough, offers right around 30 varietals of the good stuff including a sparkling ice wine that only two other wineries in the country make. And while we’re talking fun, we sampled a glass of its Sparkling Perry made from 100% Bartlett Pears and came home with a bottle of it as well as the Vidal Blanc Sparkling Ice.
They’ve stepped up their game with the creation of a distillery, too, if their wines weren’t enough. If you love the science behind distilling, you’ll love the tour they give showcasing how their brandy and vodka is made.
If you can’t wait to uncork when you visit, there’s a lovely outdoor covered area with tables that’s perfect for relaxing and enjoying the fruit of its labor.
Lago Winery & Mortals Key Brewing Company
I know what you must be thinking: why is there a photo of pizza? There’s a good reason for it, and it’s all about what makes Lago Winery so amazing. Not just a winery, the property is a destination that includes, yes, 10 varietals of wines (I loved the Running Naked Red), but a wood-fired oven that would make any true Italian envious. Sitting on the edge of Pymatuning Lake (there’s kayak and stand-up paddle boarding rentals available in the shop), it’s a taste of rustic Italy, if you can believe it.
Here’s a little back story on the owners and their oven. They wanted authentic pizza that can be found when you visit Italy, simple and delicious with fresh ingredients and dough. What they received along with the oven was a true lesson in pizza creation. The Margherita is impeccable and the crust? Let’s just say that I’d be happy to visit everyday if I lived close.
Their latest endeavor, Mortals Key Brewing Company, is just as cool as the name suggests. Offering Old World recipes and varieties including Kolsch, Altbier, and IPAs, the bar is an open-air concept using repurposed and reclaimed wood and decorations. An outdoor barbecue area adjacent to the bar area (if you visit make sure to check out the tables. Two words: boat motors!) and serves a simple, yet, satisfying, menu.
Depot Saloon Brewery
Greenville, PA was next on our go-to list to a brand new hang, Depot Saloon Brewery. Every one of its craft beers is brewed in-house including an Oatmeal Stout, Cream and Blonde Ales, and an IPA. The menu is fun as well- there’s Ox Roast Sandwiches are a top seller.
Next Stop? Hermitage, PA to Webb Winery‘s new shop. What began in the owners’ home with locally- and regionally-grown fruits and Pennsylvania grapes, the winery has a brand new shop on the edge of a Tam O’Shanter Golf Course and offers fun events including a Sip and Paint Class. We sampled a glass of its Peach Bellini Slushie (so delicious it’s dangerous!) and learned all about the release party for Hines Ward’s Wine Bar, Table 86 and its new house white wine, Seyval Blanc.
We were told to have vision for our next stop- and a vision it will be once completed, indeed. Nova Destinations, set to open next month, is the labor of love from the Nova Cellars brands. A two-story restaurant and all-over fun destination, the top floor will be all about craft brews and the bottom will highlight wines from Fractured Grape and Nova Cellars Winery. Once completed (it’s happening in phases) you can expect to be able to hang out by the lake or inside on either floor and take in the general splendor of the massive property. We were also told there’s some surprises in store- and I can’t wait for the reveal.
Volant Mill Winery
I’m always on the hunt for local mead, you know that. I’m the one with a sweet tooth and adore sweeter liquor and wines, so honey mead is right up my alley. Yes, Volant Mill Winery has delicious wines (Coco Vino tastes like a cherry Tootsie pop), but its Medieval Solstice is what I came home with. Made from 100% honey, the drink is smooth and so delicious- with that end note of honey that I can’t get enough of. We visited its location in Volant, but the company has two others as well (one near the Pittsburgh Airport in Clinton and another near the Grove City Outlet).
Stone Church Brewpub
A desanctified church turned brewpub and restaurant, Stone Church Brewpub is just the coolest. Using pieces from the original church including stained glass and pews, the brewery goes pretty much bananas however its pleases with its fun, hip beer selections. Never one to turn down a sampling, Mr. Locke adored the Pancake Breakfast Stout and Jerusalem Cruiser Wheat.
Brewtus Brewing Co.
Our final stop of the tour ended where it began, Sharon, PA. Brewtus Brewing Co. is such a cool spot. Founded in 2013, the hot spot brews in-house and has inventive beers including “Fruit” Sheba, Stool Pigeon and Shenango Valley Steamer.
Unique appetizer of the day: Macaroni Salad Balls. Rolled in traditional potato chips, they’re addicting. You’ve been warned. We also tried House Made Pub Soft Pretzels and delicious Pepperoni Rolls. Well, they were more like pepperoni triangles but we’ll let that slide- right down our throats.
Ready to make a visit to Mercer County and create your own liquor trail? If you’ve been to any of these exceptional spots, please let em know in the comment section below!
Disclosure: I was hosted by Visit Mercer County PA for the purpose of this article. They did the driving, we did the tasting and all opinions are my own!