Tuesday, July 8, 2008

This list is Prime territory for regional wines

You don’t find too many restaurants that even put Pennsylvania wines on their menu. An exception is Brandywine Prime in Chaddsford, where general manager Michael Majewski says there are seven regional wines among a list that includes about 100.

“I probably do a little bit more in trying to promote the wines from the area than most places do,” he says, talking by phone late last week. The restaurant, he says, has been open around 18 months. “I have
Paradocx, Chaddsford and Va La, right now and at some point I’ll put some Penns Woods wines on the list, too. You know, I feel like we’re kind of located in the middle of Pennsylvania wine-growing area and if restaurants don’t take the time and effort to acknowledge it, at least a little bit, then I think we’re doing the area a disservice. The wine-growing area is becoming enough to drive people to the area.”

Not only do they carry the wines but they’ve also become active with the wineries of the
Brandywine Valley Wine Trail. Several weeks ago they hosted a dinner for the trail’s first wine camp; that paired the food with wine from one of the wineries the campers had visited during their three-day “drink-over.”

Majewski says that price isn’t generally a problem in pushing the wine. They are on par, he said, with those from outside the region in the same class. But the recognition factor is another story, especially as diners peer at the list and other more familiar names jump out at them. So what tips them toward the regional wineries?

“We sell most of the local wine to people who have been to the wineries at some point or another and have enjoyed the wines,” he says, “and then they come into the restaurant and see if we have them and get one. Or the person that asks, ‘Hey, I’m not from around here, I see you have some wines from the area, what do you think?' And then we just kind of go from there.”

They don’t go from there blindly, for sure. Majewski says some members of the staff already have taken a trip to Chaddsford Winery. “Not everybody went,” he says, “but, I don’t know, there were eight or nine of us that went over. [Owner and winemaker] Eric [Miller] did a little tour, the whole dog and pony show for the staff . It was good. Va La’s a little far for us to do a staff trip, and Paradocx just opened their winery. We’re doing an event at Paradocx this weekend, so we’ll actually get some staff out there.”