Sunday, February 22, 2009

Stargazers adding warmth to the old pad

When the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail begins welcoming guests for the 2009 Barrels on the Brandywine next Sunday, Stargazers Vineyard will be one of two new members pouring wines. As noted on the Web site, the winery is located just north of Unionville, Chester County, not far from the "Stargazers Stone," which marks the location of the observatory Mason and Dixon used in surveying the border between Pennsylvania and Maryland. According to the site, they were known as "the stargazers" because they used celestial navigation to correct their measurements over the ground.

It’s a vineyard and winery that has been owned and operated for years by Alice and John Weygandt, who are just beginning a succession plan that will turn over full operation to Jennifer and Brian Dickerson.

Reached by phone the other day, Brian said this phasing in of the new owners could take three to five years. “We want it to be [that length of time] so I can get as much knowledge with them around as possible instead of just saying, ‘Here ya go, have fun.’ We want it to be a smooth transition, not just for the entities involved but for the business itself, the winemaking and the wingrowing.”

Brian said they should soon complete work on enclosing a patio overlooking the Brandywine River and valley that to this point has had a roof over it but was open on three sides and connected to the winery on the fourth. Not that it will change what Brian called “probably the best view in Chester County as far as the wineries go,” but it will turn that spot into a 12-month-a-year site that can be heated during the winter and open for breezes during the summer. “We’ve framed it in and put in very large glass overhead doors so when we have inclement weather, like in March, they’re going to be closed and [it will be] warm and toasty,” he said.

They plan to be pouring eight wines during Barrels: two of their sparkling wines, their oaked and unoaked Chardonnays, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and
Dornfelder. Care to taste? They provide two wines from the barrel: their 2008 Chardonnay and their 2007 Cabernet Reserve.

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