Nathan Bubb of Seven Mountains Wine Cellars admits he has a hard time remembering the names of all seven mountains.
“There’s Broad Mountain, Long Mountain… I can’t name them all off the top of my head, although I probably should,” he said with a laugh, as he points to the seven peaks outlined on his wineglass, part of the winery’s logo.
If you’ve ever driven U.S. Route 322 from Harrisburg toward State College, you’ve traveled up and over the area known as “seven mountains.” The steep, twisting stretch of highway—also seven miles—transports you from Mifflin into Centre County.
But after summiting the seventh mountain, rather than continuing on to State College and Happy Valley—especially if you’re a wine lover—you just might be, appropriately enough, in seventh heaven.
Seven Mountains Wine Cellars—right off the highway, but in the woods near Bald Eagle State Forest—is a destination in itself. That’s because, with 40 varieties on the wine list at any one time—many of them award-winners—there’s a reason for everyone to raise a glass to the father-son winemakers.
“Most wineries have half the selection of what we have,” Bubb said. “The good side of that is that we have a little bit of everything for customers to try. There’s something for everyone, from big, bold, dry reds to softer reds, and dry acidic whites to semi-sweet whites, to really sweet Niagaras, Concords and some interesting port wines and sherry wines, as well.”
What could possibly be the downside?
“It can be a nightmare downstairs, juggling things from tank to tank,” Bubb said.
He points “downstairs,” under the large, shaded patio to the heart of the winery’s operations—the cool, cave-like wine cellars below—literally inside the mountain.
Not only has Seven Mountains racked up dozens of awards in state competition at the Pennsylvania Farm Show, but their white German-style wine, Traminette, took a double gold medal in national competition at the American Wine Society’s 2019 competition in Palm Beach.
The awards are the rewards for the family-owned and operated winery founded by Bubb’s father Scott about 15 years ago. At the time, Scott was ranked one of the top-10 amateur winemakers in the country. When Scott learned he’d be losing his full-time manufacturing job, it was the motivation he needed to pour his energies into full-time winemaking.
“He started with a small amount of wine—4,000 gallons—and things went crazy. In six or seven years, he was in the 20,000-gallon range, which is hard for one person to do,” said Bubb.
That’s when Nathan came on board, and Seven Mountains’ operations elevated from a solo winemaker to a father-son team.
But you won’t find vineyards on the property—there are too many deer that would eat the grapes, Bubb said, speaking from experience and failed attempts.
“We’re not farmers—we would rather focus 110% of our time on making great wine,” said Bubb. “But 80% of the grapes we purchase are from PA, and we process everything here on site.”
The pandemic threw them, like many small businesses, off a cliff and into new territory.
“My job was primarily in the basement [wine cellars] before COVID, but now I’ve picked up doing all the deliveries,” Bubb said. “We supply 40-some grocery stores across the state, and when everything was shut down, our grocery store sales went through the roof. It was just insane, but it introduced a lot of people to our wines.”
You can find Seven Mountains wine at the Mechanicsburg and Lancaster Wegmans, numerous Giant Supermarkets, Carlisle’s Castlerigg Wine Shop, even new Pennsylvania Libations locations—in Pittsburgh’s Strip District and Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market.
The Bubb family also owns and operates Reedsville’s Stone Fly Café, where suggested wines are paired with Italian/American menu items. Their Pinot Noir, for example, complements the Balsamic Roasted Salmon Panini. And who wouldn’t enjoy a little Blackberry Merlot paired with the ultimate comfort food—a dreamy Nutella or Peanut Butter & Jelly Panini?
Seven Mountains Wine Cellars is one of about a dozen stops on the Central Pennsylvania Tasting Trail, organized by the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau. And it’s one of 54 destinations cultivated into Happy Valley Agventures, an agritourism initiative that promotes authentic foodie experiences showcasing Centre County’s farmers markets, small farms and ag-related small businesses, organized by the area’s tourism bureau and chamber of commerce.
“Our roots run deep here in Happy Valley with agricultural heritage,” said Ed Stoddard with the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau. “We really honor the land where we live and where our food comes from.”
It all ties into the enduring legacy of agriculture, on land that sits in the shadow of Penn State University—originally founded by farmers.
“It’s so beautiful back here in the woods. We are literally smack-dab in the mountains, surrounded by nature,” Bubb said, gesturing across the sun-dappled patio encircled by trees.
“We have lots of people who come and bring their laptops during the day, using our guest WiFi to work during the day—people who normally work from home—but I don’t want to get anybody in trouble.”
Seven Mountains Wine Cellars is located at 324 Decker Valley Rd., Spring Mills. For more information on locations in this story, visit sevenmountainswinecellars.com, centralpatastingtrail.com and happyvalleyagventures.com.
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