Waltz Vineyards Review
Address: 1599 Old Line Road Manheim,Pennsylvania 17545.
Tasting Hours: Mon-Sat 11:00-5:00
Region: Lancaster Valley AVA, Pennsylvania
Review Date: 4/16/2015
Waltz Vineyards is family-owned and operated by Jan and Kim Waltz. They have been in business since 1997, and in 2000 produced their first vintage inside their exterior garage. Jan is the winemaker and is renowned for being one of the top wine grape growers in PA. He grows over 100 tons of grapes each year. All of the wines are crafted from his 6th generation family farm’s grapes, making these truly “estate” wines! The soft, rolling hills combined with world-class vineyard soil create a first-rate terroir for growing Vitis vinifera grapes. In the years since their first vintage, Jan has worked tirelessly at his passion, and his attempt to perfect the winemaking process has not gone unnoticed.
Along with his reputation for being a top wine grape grower, the estate wines of Waltz have received recognition in state, national and international wine competitions. In the spring of 2009 they opened the doors to their “European-styled” tasting room, which also includes a “French Oak Barrel Room” and state-of-the-art winemaking equipment and technology.
The drive to “Waltz Vineyards” runs through parts of the Pennsylvania Dutch and Amish countryside and is a collage of primarily farmland, a few industrial parks and a number of suburban and rural neighborhoods. From the PA Turnpike to state highways to small country roads, it’s an easy, interesting drive.
I reach my destination and turn into the driveway that leads up a finely manicured hill to the tasting room and winery. As I park and exit my car, I’m greeted by the very friendly vineyard dog, Lucy, who is ready for a good game of toss with either her tennis ball, or mini-Nerf football. Her good nature and smiling face make it difficult not to be engaged and give in to her desire for a few minutes.
As I enter the tasting room, Anne Daly, the tasting room manager, pleasantly greets me and guides me through my tasting. Her British accent, easygoing demeanor and vast knowledge of all things Waltz, make for a wonderful experience.
There are two tasting menu options: the “Light and Fruity Sampler” and the “Dry and Serious Sampler”, each including five estate wines. There is also a “food pairing” option to go along with each sampler for an additional $3. Included is a nice sized piece of local cheese; a few slices of dark “Miesses” chocolate; and “Rip Rap” crackers that are absolutely tasty!
I decided to try both samplers and included the “food pairing” option as well. Since I tasted both samplers, I intermixed and started with the white wines, followed by the reds and finished with their dessert wine. Below are tasting notes of my experience from this visit:
2013 Sauvignon Blanc (100%) in stainless steel tank; clear, light-yellow color; featuring a grapefruit, grassy nose; crisp, clean, citrus mouth-feel; and a nice, long dry finish.
2012 Old Line Chardonnay (100%) lightly oaked (40% French oak); clear, light straw-color; a slight hint of vanilla on the nose; green apple, citrus flavors with nice acidity; smooth, clean dry finish.
2011 Reserve Chardonnay (100%) 10 months in 100% French oak (Sur Lie); clear, clean golden-hue; a bit of caramel, baked apple on the nose; full-bodied, pear, toasted oak; a long, creamy, buttery finish.
2013 Fusion, blend of 50% Semillon, 25% Sauvignon Blanc and 25% Chardonnay in stainless steel tank; clear light-golden color; peach and citrus nose; semi-dry (1% RS) with pear, grapefruit and hint of apple on the palate; nice smooth finish.
2011, Baron Red, 65% Merlot and 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21 months in French oak; deep, dark red in color; notes of cherry, cedar and musk on the nose; currant, black plum and jammy fruit on the palate; light tannins for a nice finish.
2014 Moscato, 100% Muscat in stainless steel; clean, clear, bright color; lime, peach, white floral notes; semi-sweet (2% RS) with apricot and white stone fruit; nice sweet finish.
The following are tasting notes of three other wines I had previously tasted:
2013 Stiegel Rose, 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon in stainless steel tank (12 hours of skin contact/Saignee-method); clean, clear dark-pink salmon in color; dark cherry and mixed berry aromas; off-dry (0.4% RS), dark fruit; slight tart fruit finish.
2010 Cherry Tree Merlot, 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21 months in 100% French oak; deep garnet color; black cherry, leather and chocolate notes; dark fruit, spices and good tannins; mouth coating, long finish.
2010 Crow Woods Cabernet, 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot, 21 months in 100% French oak; dark purple color; dark berry, cassis, coffee notes; dark fruit, balanced tannins; smooth, elegant finish.
Unfortunately, neither Jan nor Kim Waltz were at the vineyard during my visit, but I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Kim previously. Their dedication to producing excellent wines is evident, as is their commitment to providing a wonderful tasting experience for anyone who travels to their beautiful farm estate. Anne Daly will make sure your visit is nothing but first class from the moment you step through the tasting room door to the loading of your car with wine purchases. I encourage anyone who enjoys high-quality dry wines to make the drive and enjoy an afternoon tasting in the quaint and quiet surroundings of Waltz Vineyards in Manheim, PA.