Universal York

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York County Winemaking Has a Long History

Mr. Odenwald of York holding a glass of wine
I spent yesterday afternoon touring some of the wineries on the March 2010 Tour de Tanks event, part of the year round Uncork York Wine Trail. I was amazed at the many varieties of good wine produced right here in the York County area. (The tour continues through the next two weekends. Click here for more information.)
Then I started thinking about the long history York County has had with winemaking. Just a few examples:
One source says that Thomas Eichelberger was “instrumental in establishing 20 vineyards near York.”
A previous post on George Upp told of his extensive vineyard in the area of present day Farquhar Park around 1830.
After he moved to Maryland, then to D.C., York native John Adlum developed the Catawba wine grape in the 1820s. Adlum also corresponded with other serious vineyard owners, such as Thomas Jefferson.

A glance through the Chronicles of York folk artist, Lewis Miller, comes up with quite a few references to wine. His caption for the drawing above reads:
“Mr. Oldenwald at the house [tavern] of Thomas Metzels, 1830. Odenwald was a Tailor by trade and told fine Storys. A–teller, wonderful and odd Expressions of York. he was–barkeeper at Thomas Metzels tavern. her[e] is good german wine. tasted it….”
Why all the wine? The principle group of Pennsylvania Germans that settled in this area well over two hundred years ago, came from the Rhineland-Palatinate. Still Germany’s leading wine producing region, many of the steep hills sloping down to the Rhine and its tributary, the Mosel, are terraced with grape vines.
Even though our climate isn’t quite as good for growing grapes as that of the Rhineland, York County vintners have persisted over the years, growing grapes and producing award winning wine. They love to share their knowledge, and their wine, so even if you don’t get a chance to participate in the annual tour event, you can still stop by at your leisure and have a taste.
Click the links below for more on York County and wine.
York County’s 19th century wine makers.
Lewis Miller’s drawing of Jacob Busser singing about wine.
George Oberdorf’s grapevines.
George Upp’s vineyard.