Sunday, November 2, 2008

Fall tour: Newtown's Rose Bank Winery

It’s a thread from the same spool that has been pulled through the past few stories. Dave Fleming, owner of Rose Bank Winery, is feeling it wind around him and tighten just like many area winemakers and proprietors.

In his case, what’s tugging on his schedule is the
Buck County Wine Trail’s Nouveau Release that’s scheduled for Nov. 15 and 16. “I’m working the Nouveau right now,” he said by phone the other day, “and I’m expecting to bottle that in another two weeks, planning on bottling it the 13th. I’m actually trying to bottle before that; the 13th is just a little too close. It sort of makes me nervous.”

He’s readying the
Chancellor grape for the wine trail’s version of what has become more and more an international tradition: a release of a fruit-forward wine right before Thanksgiving and the five weeks that follow. Last year the trail called it a Nouvelle release, and Fleming instead was crushing and bottling his Vidal grapes. “This year we’re going back to the red grape,” he said. That weekend will kickoff for Rose Bank with a Friday evening celebration, from 5 to 8 o’clock, that will feature the new wine and hors d’oeuvres. The festivities will continue from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

In addition, Fleming said, the winery is planning a DiBruno Cheeses tasting in November and December, and also a Tots for Tots Ball on the fiorst Saturday night (Dec. 6) in December. “They have a band and they have caterers who come in and provide food,” he said. “There’s food and dancing, of course, wine drinking. It will be the third year. It really took off last year. This year we’re not going to have ticket sales at the door. Last year we sort of got swamped at the door and had to bring more tables and chairs out. It got a little hairy there for a while. So we do have to limit the number.”

Dave, who runs the winery along with wife Beverly, said the business has been going strong since the opening in 2000. “This wine thing is just, for the last five, six years, has been booming,” he said. “There’s more wineries coming into it. And our last couple of years the growing conditions have been extremely good. I mean, we’ve had conditions the past two years similar to California in terms of rain the last six, eight weeks.”

Asked about his signature wines, Fleming mentioned his Proprietors Reserve Cabernet and their blackberry dessert wine. It’s one of seven sweet wines of the 21 sold by Rose Bank. “To tell you the truth, 80 percent of the people who come through the front door go for the sweet,” he said of a wine list that includes blueberry, cranberry and red raspberry. “I think some people are finally getting the idea that you can make wine out of fruit. And grapes are a fruit. And so is a raspberry. And you can make a good wine out of raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, all that.”

Probably the other thing that sets apart Rose Bank from other wineries is that they don’t charge for tastings. Some in the region charge as much as $7 for tastings; you tend to find the price lower or nonexistent as you head north into the Lehigh Valley or west into York. But being where Rose Bank is located, in Bucks County, it’s a question they hear often. Fleming has a succinct answer. “We’re doing very well, so [why charge]?” he said. “I think where our prices are, if we were to contemplate charging, I think I’d just raise the price [of the wine] a little bit."