Wednesday, August 13, 2008

'Great Eight' make up Bucks County trail

Chris Carroll is one of the principal owners of Crossing Vineyards & Winery in Bucks County whose responsibilities spill over into directing the public relations and marketing. She’s also one of the key voices of the Bucks County Wine Trail, one of the newest among the seven or eight that stretch across Pennsylvania.

She’s a major proponent of the strength in numbers philosophy that the California wineries adopted years ago and that the wineries in other states, including Pennsylvania, have gravitated toward. “You learn that you can have a much greater impact when you work together,” she said by phone the other day.

The team philosophy makes particular sense for the eight members of the Bucks County trail, a diverse lot that Carroll said, at the most, are separated by no more than 15 miles. You couldn’t stop at all of them in a day, she noted, but you certainly could in a long weekend. It’s a strategy that has worked well for wine trails such as
Brandywine Valley and Lehigh Valley. Draw folks to the area, where they can reserve a room at a local hotel and a table at a couple of restaurants, then spend a couple of days sampling wines at all the wineries on the trail.

To that end, Carroll said that they’ve applied for funding through the
Bucks County Conference & Visitors Bureau to assemble a brochure that provides basic information on each winery in the trail, info that can be placed at the multitude of B&Bs that dot that region. If it “gives them a reason to stay even that one extra day,” then it’s worth the investment, she said.

The trail is a mix of old --
Buckingham Valley, Peace Valley and Sand Castle -- and new -- Wycombe -- wineries with the mix of varietals and blends that you’d expect from such a diverse group of winemakers. Several are open just on weekends, such as Rose Bank Winery, while others such as Crossing Vineyards & Winery, Sand Castle Winery and New Hope Winery open their doors daily.

Already they host what would be considered the mainstays of a wine trail’s annual schedule: a Spring Fling in May, a Harvest Celebration in October and a Holiday Celebration in December. What's planned for the future is continued development of the Web site and an improvement in the trail's outreach. In addition, that events schedule figures to get longer in the coming years. Those aforementioned events complement a unique mid-November celebration called a Nouveau Release, which gives wineries a chance to roll out some of the juice from the recently harvested grapes just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.