When J. Richard “Dick” Nissley and his son John first planted several acres of grapes in the mid-1970’s, it was something of an experiment. Research told them that the rich limestone soil of Lancaster Valley might be well suited for a vineyard. In those days, there were only a few wineries in Pennsylvania, and many said California or France were the only places producing acceptable wines. But Dick and his wife Anna persevered despite the naysayers. Dick went on to found the Pennsylvania wine association and would serve as its first president. Before long, a thriving vineyard and winery began to take root. But it would not see true success without help.
Soon, Dick and Anna’s daughters would join the business. Twins Judith and Joyce arrived when the winery opened in 1978. Judith expanded the enterprise, organizing, and executing plans to open the off-premise extension shops. She also conceived and began the Music in the Vineyards series. Joyce applied her mathematical and organizational skills to our business accounting and management of our personalized wine service. Mary Lee moved home later, applying her knack for horticulture to the preservation and beautification of the property. John continued to manage the vineyard.
Judith, Joyce, Mary Lee and John Nissley
Not Too Long Ago
As the business expanded further, winemaker Bill Gulvin was hired during the early 1990’s. From New York state, he brought with him a great deal of experience, a large personality, and a noticeable accent! After winning INDY winemaker of the year in 2014, Gulvin retired, leaving large shoes to fill for our new winemaker, Jen Wampler. Her degree in enology and viticulture have served her well, and many of her wines have medaled in recent competitions this year. As the original vineyard manager John Nissley enters retirement, Steve Foreman brings his enthusiasm (and thick beard) to the position. He has been with us since 2004. Dick and Anna Ruth passed away in the early 2000’s but Judy, Joyce, John, and Mary Lee have succeeded in turning a few vines and a vision into an award-winning winery, making the Nissley name synonymous with top tier Pennsylvania wine.
And with the team in place, the pioneering spirit of the Nissley family is carried on by grandson Jonas Nissley, whose energy and passion is ushering in a new chapter of success for the winery. Rooted in the past with an eye toward the future, we continue to host vibrant events and produce exceptional wine.