The soggy weather didn’t dampen my spirits. Nestled in the borough of Elizabethville in a 19th-century building that used to house Swab Wagon Co., the winery isn’t far from well-known Halifax-area attractions like Lake Tobias Wildlife Park and Armstrong Valley Winery, with plenty of antique shops nearby.
I asked Derrick how the winery began.
“It was a progression,” he said. “It started in 2008 with home brewing.”
The couple decided to purchase land outside of Elizabethville at the base of Broad Mountain, from which the winery ultimately got its name.
After erecting fencing to fend off ever-present deer and rabbits, Derrick and Heather initially planted hops to further their home brewing pursuits. Vault Brewing Co. in Yardley, Pa., discovered their website and contacted Derrick to supply them with hops. He readily agreed—then planted more. Soon, the Michaels decided to grow grapes, as well.
Now, three of the Michaels’ 26 acres are dedicated to the Broad Mountain vineyard, growing eight grape varieties. About 1½ acres are still devoted to growing hops. The winery and tasting room, up the way a bit, opened last October.
The Michaels do everything: plant, grow, pick and bottle.
The signs for the winery you see along the way—Derrick erected those. His grandfather stopped in for a visit when I was there; he had been loading corks for bottling just the day before. Derrick even made the wine for his own 2013 wedding. Striking photographs—taken by Heather—adorn the winery’s walls, capturing the vineyard’s rustic beauty and chronicling its progress. Behind the tasting bar, windows encapsulate hundreds of wine bottles that Derrick mortared into place to make a unique, decorative wall piece.
Broad Mountain offers 12 varieties, including a sweet strawberry and a blueberry that debuted the day of my visit.
The names of Broad Mountain’s wines have local references. For instance, the semi-sweet white is labeled Benderstettle, the original town name of Elizabethville. The sweet Concord is called “Star of the Valley,” which is the town’s nickname. Black Creek, a dry Marechal Foch, is the nickname of Dauphin County’s Wiconisco Creek. The dry Chancellor, Wolf Pond, was named for a local lake.
Broad Mountain also offers a variety of hard apple ciders, quaffs flavored with (depending on the season) pumpkin, blackberry, honey, pineapple and hops. The tasting room taps three or four at a time.
The tasting room offers plenty of tables to sit down with a glass, a bottle (for wines) or a growler (for ciders). Before making a decision, ask for samples, as tastings are complimentary.
If you need a snack, you can purchase a variety of local meats and cheeses, and the winery also welcomes BYOF—bring your own food. If you like a particular cheese, blocks are available to take home, as is winery swag like T-shirts, wine glasses, wine bags and candles. Paint nights, happy hours and other events are listed on Broad Mountain’s website and Facebook.
Besides the vineyard and winery, Derrick has an outside, full-time job. Heather also has a part-time job, and the busy couple is raising a new daughter. Their goal is to give their children the knowledge and experience of what a good, strong work ethic can build.
As with most new ventures, there have been speed bumps along the way.
Rabbits get to the young hop shoots. Deer are becoming a problem as the vineyard expands. Equipment is expensive, and there is more hard work than anticipated.
But Derrick and Heather aren’t deterred. They plan to work even harder and have aggressive plans for the future. They want to buy hives for mead. Beer-making is part of their natural progression, as well. The Michaels also will be constructing an events building on the vineyard, which has already hosted weddings. They want to schedule hikes along the top of Broad Mountain, which will end at the hang glider landing (a section of their property is often used by hang gliders off Broad Mountain as a landing zone).
The Michaels are a very entrepreneurial couple. They wanted to make something from nothing. In creating a future for their family, they are bringing something special to upper Dauphin County with Broad Mountain Winery and Vineyard.
Broad Mountain Winery and Tasting Room is located at 34C S. Market St., Elizabethville. For more information, visit www.broadmountainvineyard.com or call 717-362-8044.