This month’s Q&A takes us to southwestern PA, an area not as well-known for winemaking as Lake Erie or the Lehigh Valley, but that nonetheless has a few vineyards and wineries worth knowing.

Located outside of Pittsburgh, Ripepi Winery & Vineyard was founded by Richard Ripepi in 1987. What started out as a few rows of grapes quickly grew into a ten-acre vineyard. These boutique wines are crafted from estate-grown grapes, locally-grown fruit and other regional grapes.

Janelle Ripepi-D’Eramo is daughter of Richard Ripepi and second-generation winemaker, grape grower and manager at Ripepi Winery & Vineyard. We caught up with Janelle for a quick Q&A:

What is one thing that you are excited about right now at your winery?

We are particularly excited about showcasing a wide range of styles in our estate reds. For example, our “nouveau” style De Chaunac sees no oak-aging; we bottle it young, three months after fermentation, and intend for it to be consumed within a year. Our semi-carbonic Chancellor, as another example, is inky purple, fresh, bright, wildly aromatic, and easy drinking. Lastly, our bourbon barrel-aged Maréchal Foch is bold, robust, and balances fruit, smoke and spice.

Name a PA wine, made by a different winery, that you think more people should know about.

I recently enjoyed the Unwooded Chardonnay 2022 from South Shore Wine Company (Mazza). It features gentle aromas of under-ripe nectarine and acacia… medium body and acidity with flavors of green apple and a soft, persistent finish. I paired this wine with scallops and fresh pasta in brown butter.

Tell us about a great food pairing with one of your wines. Why does it work?

Our Vidal Blanc is one of our favorite wines to pair with food. This oak-aged, dry white is offers notes of vanilla, spice, floral and pear while having a lower ABV than Californian oak-aged whites, making it easier to pair with food. The intensity of our Vidal Blanc matches that of grilled foods and creamy sauces and its noticeable acidity cuts through rich dishes and cleanses the palate. Try with grilled meats, grilled seafood, creamy risotto or elevated mac and cheese.

What’s a lesser-known grape that you think works or could work in PA and hope more people will plant?

We have had a lot of success with our Chancellor grapes over the years. This hybrid red variety was originally developed in France, is cold-hardy, fruit-driven and can be made into a variety of styles. With Chancellor we have produced a dry rosé, a semi-carbonic dry red, a low-ABV red with residual sugar, and a bold, oak-aged dry red.

What’s one misconception about PA wines that you’d love to address?

That they are all sweet. There are many wineries, such as ours, making high quality dry styles from estate-grown grapes.