Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Wycombe labels give new life to family snapshots

The original intent for the labels that would affix to the Wycombe Vineyards bottles was a series of photographs of the historic buildings and scenes that dot the area around Furlong in Bucks County, Pa. “But there just didn’t seem to be enough,” said Lyndsay Jurema, the daughter of owner Richard Fraser. “Whenever I went to take pictures there was construction or it was somebody’s house or something like that.”

Those thoughts about a distinctive image on the label still percolating, Jurema said they were next store at her grandparents’ house repainting the lower level when they discovered some old documents and pictures. “We just started coming across some of these fun photos of the farm from the ‘30s and ’40s, even before the ’30s of my great grandparents. And we thought, ‘This is perfect,’ so we picked through them and found one that would go with the wines we were making.”

What resulted was a
distinctive series of photos that make up the 13-winee Wycombe line, from shots of the farm to lovely family scenes. “All of the photos had people in them, which actually made it more interesting,” Jurema said. “It was really the people in the photos that made it more interesting for me.”

One of the most memorable of the photos graces one of the winery’s top sellers, the Naked Chardonnay. “It has a picture of my grandmother and two of her best friends,” Jurema said, “and they’re kind of dancing, hiking up their skirts above their knees. It’s cute.” And it’s as original as the crisp taste and elevated acidity of the liquid inside the bottle. “It’s not a wine you find locally very much. It’s more of a Chablis style.”

Another favorite is the Traminette, a semi-dry wine that you'll also tend to find in vineyards north and south of Pennsylvania. “It’s such a different varietal; usually you find it in upstate New York and down toward Virginia, too," she said. "It has a really flowery aroma to it. That’s a white wine grape that I think, that and a Riesling, it’s easy to just smell it and go ‘that’s what that is.’ ”

Wycombe, a member of the
Bucks County Wine Trail, is producing around 500 cases annually. Vines grow on 10 of the farm’s 60 acres; among those grapes are Traminette and Riesling. It’s a plot that has been in the family, Jurema said, since the turn of the last century. A working farm up until the late 1950s, it was rented out for the next couple of generations. Jurema then picked up the story. “In 1998 they decided to put the land in preservation, so when they did that, we, I guess it just kind of came up and, you know, talking about what to do with it, we just decided to turn it back into a working family farm . . . just being centered around a family farm. Everyone who works here is family.

“We make everything in small batches," said Jurema, whose skills in graphic and Web design have helped the two-year-old winery make its mark on prospective buyers. "We just want to make the best; [I'm sure] most wineries are going to say they just want to make the best wines that they can. But we also want to focus on making sure that we utilize this land. If we had to buy that to start a vineyard, it never would have happened. So, you know, it was really a blessing for us to do that.”