Farmhouse Blue Light

Pennsylvania Wine Society

Pennsylvania Wine Society

by Lynne Beeson


PWS brings back the all-time favorite, “blue light special” event! Join us on Thursday, May 19, 2016, 6:30 p.m., to relax, explore value wines and casual foods, and enjoy the great company this event always attracts.   We will relax in Harmony Hall’s newly renovated Farmhouse venue at the Harmony Hall complex, 1400 Fulling Mill Rd, Middletown, PA. Harmony Hall is situated on 18+ acres with beautifully landscaped grounds, surrounded by a natural wooded setting. Grab a glass and tour the grounds, or just find a comfy nook to gnosh and sip wine with friends.


The Blue Light event is informal, casual, with food and wine sampling at your own pace and preference. A great way to introduce friends to the PWS! Your hosts will select value wines from the Wine & Spirits stores’ current truckload sales and special offerings. You go home with a shopping list that won’t hurt your summer vacation budget! All you need do is enjoy tasting, comparing tasting perceptions with friends, and choosing your favorites from our selections. Seats are limited as we must plan for numbers to fit comfortably inside the farmhouse, in the event of rain or cold – but weather permitting – we will be able to enjoy the farmhouse as well as flow out onto the nice deck and spacious grounds.


Newer members who are not familiar – please bring your friends who have been shy about coming to wine events with you – Blue Light specials have always been our most successful member recruitment events. Even wine snobs agree – it’s great to kick back once in a while with good, likeable value wines and simple food. Sign up before we sell out, which these events always do because it’s a bargain at twice the price!


Special Notes— For optimal daylight to tour a bit and enjoy springtime—we will start this event at 6:30 p.m. Nights may still chill after sundown—bring a jacket or sweater.   Don’t forget to bring your own glassware if you prefer it to the plastic ware we provide.


Patrons: $35            Members: $40            Nonmembers: $50


Event Registration Instructions

Rat Pack Wine Challenge

a night on the town with the ratpack border

by Lynne Beeson


Start saving bucks as this will be a great night out, and we want to see you all there when the PWS brings back The Rat Pack with a vino twistFriday, June 24, 2014, 7:00 p.m., at the Hilton Harrisburg,   You won’t want to miss this part comedic show, part wine tasting fun!


You may recall all five members of the original Las Vegas Rat Pack; Peter Lawford, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Joey Bishop, performing in the 60’s. Their gigs were often improvised; when one member of the Rat Pack was scheduled to give a performance, others would just show up. They were great entertainers, and also known for challenging each other with merciless, funny insults. A collection of alcoholic spirits quite often accompanied The Rat Pack as they performed.


Just like the original Rat Pack, this version is made up of five close friends who travel, play, eat and drink together. The only thing they don’t do together is agree on what the best wine is. Each will pour two outstanding examples of their favorite wine, and try to convince you and the other Rat Pack Guys, that his wine is best. Our Rat Pack members are Joe Fiola, University of MD Viticulturist, Gary Pavlis, Rutgers Viticulturist, John Mahoney, International Wine Consultant, Tony Lawrence, Wine Chef extraordinaire, and Frank Aquilino, current AWS National President. There you go. It will be a hoot.


Patrons: $90                        Members: $95                       Nonmembers: $105

Event Registration Instructions

Pennsylvania Wine Excellence XIV – WINNER

WINNER:  Mazza Vineyards – Vidal Ice Wine 2013

PWS PA EX XIV Winner 1 Mazza vineyards 2-28-2016

Robert Mazza of Mazza Vineyards accepting award from PWS President, Averill Shepps for their Vidal Ice Wine 2013.

Mazza Vidal Ice Wine 2013 – Gorgeous, complex apricot, peach and botrytis aromas in the nose that carry through on the palate.  Fantastic balance between the beautiful fruit and the lively acidity.  This wine cries for Creme Brule.


Top Rated Red Wine: Waltz Vineyards – Stiegel Rose 2014

PWS PA EX XIV Winner 2 Waltz vineyards 2-28-2016

Jan Waltz of Waltz vinyards accepting award from PWS President, Averill Shepps for top-rated red wine.

Stiegal Rose 2014 – Complex Aromas of strawberry and orange blossom. Medium body, well balanced acidity. Excellent food wine showing the great potential for dry Rose in PA.



PWS PA EX 14 wine short list 2-28-2016

Pennsylvania Wine Excellence XIV Tasting list included

  • Armstrong Moscato 2014
  • Nissley Estate Vidal 2014
  • Crosswinds Semi-dry Riesling 2012
  • Penns Woods Traminette 2014
  • Waltz Chardonnay Reserve 2013
  • Waltz Rose 2014
  • Vynecrest Lemberger 2014
  • Chaddsford Artisian Chambourin 2013
  • Armstrong Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
  • Mazza Vidal Ice Wine 2013

Pennsylvania Wine Excellence XIV Honorable Mentions

  • Presque Isle Wine Cellars – Carmine Lake Erie NV
  • Penns Woods Winery – Merlot 2012
  • Waltz Vineyards – Fusion 2014
  • Presque Isle Wine Cellars – Gewurztraminer 2013
  • Naylor Wine Cellars – Cabernet Franc 2014
  • Pinnacle Ridge – Cabernet Franc 2014
  • Penns Woods Winery – Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
  • Waltz Vineyards  – Crow Woods Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
  • Penns Woods Winery – Cabernet Franc Reserve 2012
  • Waltz Vineyards – Cherry Tree Merlot 2013



The BYOB Insider: by Bill Beeson


MX Cocina

2308 Patton Road Harrisburg, PA 17112;

phone: (717) 412-7076; hours: Mon-Sat 11:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. Closed Sunday

Sometimes great food can be found in the least pretentious environments. This is certainly the case with MX Cocina! The experience is much like a gourmet food truck, with climate controlled spacious seating and four walls. Guests order and pick up food at the counter, utensils are disposable, and the only water is bottled. Wine glasses however are available upon request! What about the food, you ask. The menu is short, but the many fresh individual ingredients may be combined in any way you wish!

The selections sound traditional Mexican (with the addition of tofu) and everything is fresh and skillfully prepared by caring hands. This is what absolutely distinguishes MX Cocina from virtually all local “Mexican” (actually Tex-Mex) establishments. The delicious food is the antithesis of the canned, frozen, and pre-prepared food service found in chain restaurants (and sadly also many non-chains these days). Your first choice is selecting a “format”: burritos, salad, nachos, tacos, burrito bowl, plain bowl, or quesadillas (my favorite). The next choice is in the base: chicken, steak, beef barbacoa, pork carnitas, tofu or mixed vegetables (my favorite). You may select white, brown or Spanish rice; refried beans or black beans. And you can top everything with all the usual suspects: salsa, corn, guacamole, sour cream, roasted peppers (delicious), cilantro, cheese, and more – fresh every day. There are also a number of sides (not that you’d need a side with the abundant portions – but it is fun to try things).

From my description alone, I have probably not made it sufficiently clear that MX Cocina serves food distinctively superior to that of other local restaurants with similar-sounding (but not even close to similar tasting) menus. The difference lies in the quality of ingredients, perfect seasoning, and traditional preparation. This is real home-style cooking if home is Mexico. You owe it to your taste buds to try it. We’ve found hearty, non-tannic reds to match best – Malbec, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Merlot. Arrive early to not miss this – remembering closing is at 8 p.m.

President’s Column: by Averill Shepps

February 2016 – Many of us are still reeling from the Riedel glassware tasting where we were exposed to how wines taste in different glasses. It turns out that the basic concept is very correct – that how the wine aroma is delivered to your nose and how the wine itself is delivered to your mouth, tongue and taste buds is very important to the wine experience. For some it was a revelation. Others, who were somewhat aware of this were still amazed at the intensity of aroma or the depth of flavors that could be gained from the appropriately shaped glass.

Unfortunately one needs several glasses to get the ultimate experience from the multitude of wines out there, and the Riedel catalog has many, many selections. I suggested that we all need to get second jobs to pay for the glasses and the cabinet(s) in which to store them! The best way to make sense of it is to start with glasses for the wines you drink most often and move on from there as you are able.

Alternately you can try a specific wine in several wine glasses that you might have at home, repeating the experiment to see what works best. You might invite a wine-loving friend or two to bring over their glasses and share in the experiment, and thus the knowledge gained from it. For those who get second jobs or have the self-control to save up for it, we will be giving members another opportunity in the future to get Riedel at a discount. The company is treating us as they do a wholesaler as long as we order in sufficient volume. Thanks to Dave Williams for planning and arranging the Riedel event, and his co-host Lynne Beeson for figuring out the details of the first glass orders and glassware delivery, and to both of them for getting those glasses to the individuals who ordered.