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Susquehanna Life

Wine & Covered Bridge Tour Bubbles with Fun & Learning

Mar 14, 2017 08:31PM ● By Melanie Heisinger

Limestone Run (Bull Run) showing a completed stream and habitat restoration with bank stabilization and log veins to deflect stream flow to inhibit future bank erosion and to create suitable fish habitat areas within the stream. Photo by Shanon L. Burland Stamm.

By Erica L. Shames

As part of her role as Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper®, Carol Parenzan organizes events to help people enjoy our watershed. A tour taking place this spring offers fun and insight into the health of this natural resource.

Water is life, universally. It’s easy to take it for granted because, seemingly, it’s everywhere. Experts predict, however, that wars in the future will be fought over water as both its supply and quality continue to be threatened.

Standing Rock parallel

Limestone Run (Bull Run) showing stream bank erosion prior to stream and habitat restoration Photo by Shanon L. Burkland Stamm, Union County Conservation District.

The Susquehanna River is the drinking water source for more than 6 million people. A new natural gas pipeline runs underneath the West Branch of the river, just south of Lewisburg, with the potential, says Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Carol Parenzan, to rupture or leak, just like any other pipeline.

“They put it deep, so hopefully that’s never going to happen,” Parenzan said. “But we recently had the issue on the Loyalsock Creek where an 8-inch diameter pipeline ruptured during an extreme weather event and released a reported 55,000 gallons of gasoline into the Loyalsock, which then went into the West Branch, forcing the shutdown of the drinking water source at Milton, PA. The main focus at Standing Rock is that the pipeline could potentially damage drinking water; we have the same issue right here.”

Multiple goals

Part of the goal of the Bridges Over Troubled Water Wine and Covered Bridge Chartered Bus Tour April 22 is to make people aware of issues facing the watershed. The tour will take as many as 55 participants to historic covered bridges while spotlighting regional wineries to forge a connection between the health of our waterways and the wellbeing of our agriculture industry.

“As we go from wineries to lunch to the covered bridges we’ll call attention to some of the concerns we pass along the way,” explained Parenzan. “Whether it’s stream impairment or dams that are blocking natural fish and aquatic wildlife movement up and down the river, and even pipeline issues.”

The tour will include a stop at an East Buffalo Township, Lewisburg, property where stream bank erosion at Bull Run was remediated by the Northcentral Pennsylvania Stream Restoration Partnership, including East Buffalo Township, Union County Conservation District, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy.

On-board dialogue

Learn about wine and food pairing at Le Jeune Chef.

Our Riverkeeper will be joined on the bus by Gary Grant, Ph.D. CSW (Certified Specialist in Wine) and founder/educator and wine buyer for the Kiken Family Wine Studies Program at Bucknell University. Additionally, watershed project specialists and covered bridge historians will meet the group at various points along the way, providing insight into the background of the iconic bridges and the importance of preserving and protecting our environment to ensure that there will be local wine to sip for many years to come.

“We have a saying, ‘No Water, No Wine,’” said Parenzan. “If we don’t have clean, healthy water and air, we don’t have the vineyards. Our farmers are a key component of Pennsylvania, and they’re also a key contributor to making sure we have healthy water here in the Susquehanna Valley.”

Leisure time

Hassenplug Covered Bridge, Mifflinburg, the oldest U.S. covered bridge still standing (c. 1825).

Bridges Over Troubled Water also is an opportunity for people to get out on the watershed and have fun. “I want people to see the beauty of the river, the tributaries and the mountains and embrace that,” added Parenzan. “By taking people out on the watershed, it allows them to connect personally with what they love.”

As the Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper, Parenzan oversees 11,000 square miles of the Susquehanna River watershed. She’s eager to meet others who share or have the potential to share her passion for the river. The tour is an opportunity to learn what a riverkeeper is, and Parenzan’s goals for the river.

“Although I’m a Pennsylvania girl, I’m new in town; no one’s been a riverkeeper here before,” she explained. “If I can find people who embrace my mission and my goals, and they can be extra ears and eyes out there, and funnel information back to me, it helps me do my job better.

“The job of the riverkeeper is to bring fishable, drinkable, swimmable water to each of us—to connect each of us to the river,” she adds. “Getting people up close and personal with the river gets them excited about it. The river can be a backdrop and not the focus—I want to make it the focus.”

If you go

Bridges Over Troubled Water takes place Sat., April 22, starting and ending at Spyglass Ridge Winery in Sunbury, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., and will encompass covered bridges and wineries on the North and West Branches of the Susquehanna River. Lunch takes place at Le Jeune Chef in Williamsport, where the staff will serve a “learning lunch” focused on food and Pennsylvania wine pairing. Seating is limited, and reservations are going fast. 

Tickets, including a box breakfast, lunch and all wine tastings, are $95 each. To reserve your seat, call (570) 768-6300 or visit


The tour will begin at Spyglass Ridge Winery, where owners Tom and Tammy Webb will toast the group’s departure with a wine-infused breakfast beverage. At the end of the day, tour participants will enjoy a formal tasting of their award-winning wines.

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