If you're a wine-lover in Pennsylvania who also believes in buying close to home, you face what might be called a locavore's dilemma.
Despite their reputation for parochialism, our state stores usually carry few local products. It's always easier to find wines from northern California than from northern Pennsylvania. Wines from Pennsylvania and New York are confined to a shelf or two, mostly stocked with products from the Finger Lakes region.
Of course, you could always sample Pennsylvania vintages by driving to the wineries. But state winemakers here are few and far between -- and visiting them only increases your carbon footprint.
But you can sample the wares of one Pennsylvania winemaker without leaving the 412.
Finleyville's Trax Farms is a South Hills landmark -- one of those sprawling farmstands that remind residents of what the community was like before their subdivision was built. Tucked away in back is a wine-tasting room devoted entirely to the products of the Arrowhead Wine Cellars (www.arrowheadwine.com).
Named for the Indian artifacts that still crop up on its 250 acres of vineyards, Arrowhead is based in North East, Pa. (Which, despite its name, is located in the state's northwest, just outside of Erie.) Established in 1998 by the Mobilia family, Arrowhead makes nearly two dozen wines. These range from fruit wines like Apple Spice -- especially popular in fall -- to whites, blushes and reds. Most cost between $8.99 and $14.99, though an ice wine can cost as much as $40.
My wife tried a Riesling -- somebody once told us that such grapes do better during the shorter growing season common to AFC North and East cities. I also tried a dry wine: Chambourcin, Arrowhead's best-selling red. Connoisseurs may sniff that you wouldn't confuse these for a product of the Napa Valley, but when compared to products of the Finger Lakes, say, they hold up pretty well. The Chambourcin is a solid table wine, and a repeat award-winner at regional wine contests. (A sparkling wine, Dazzling Niagara, is also frequently honored.)
As for the Trax tasting room, it's tastefully appointed but unpretentious; there's a small bowl of pretzels to cleanse the palate, as they say, between pourings. (North Hills residents can visit a similar, if smaller, Arrowhead shop at Soergel's Orchards.) Those seeking a bit of quiet should avoid weekends, when Trax teems with families. But the wine shop is open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. How many state stores can say that?
28 Trax Road, Finleyville
412-835-3246 or www.traxfarms.com