Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spending Saturday hitting the Barrels trail

Winemaker Eric Miller, at Chaddford, and an outside and inside look of the Penns Woods tasting room on Beaver Valley Road.

Just a couple of notes from one day on the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail. First, my thanks to everyone for their hospitality on Saturday. There were a fair number of folks at every stop, and those my wife and I talked to were planning to hit at least three or four wineries on the cloudy and damp afternoon. A couple of proprietors said that while the numbers have been good this March for visitors, that the sales haven't corresponded. But there was no shortage of fun; a few pulled up in limos and it was obvious that there was no shortage of beverage or food in the vehicle.
We started at Chaddsford Winery, for no other reason than it's the perfect spot to begin the journey when you're driving over from King of Prussia AND you know that every one will be good to excellent. They offered a 2007 Naked Chardonnay and 2007 Proprietors Reserve White at the first stop, then had winemaker and co-owner Eric Miller, see above, pulling duty at the second tasting station, where he offered a sample of the 2006 bottled Cabernet Sauvignon and some of the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon out of the barrel. Want big red? Wait for that '08 to age some more and be bottled. Great stuff. At tasting station No. 2 was a 2006 Pinot Noir and a 2005 Chambourcin, the grapes grown her in York County by Seven Valleys Vineyard. That's the one that has been for sale, the asking price the last we heard at $2.3 million. Then it was upstairs for the fourth station, where Chaddsford offered a 2007 Sunset Blush and Hot Mulled Spiced Apple that, frankly, was perfect for the chilly afternoon.
We were among a handful who drove back up U.S. 1 and south on Route 202 to Beaver Valley Road, site of the Penns Woods Winery, where we walked into the tasting room that resides in an old house on the former Smithbridge Vineyard property. Four wines were offered to sample: a no-name blush that the winery is asking for suggestions for a name, a Traminette, a Chambourcin and also a Merlot. The sampling was done in the back room; the front room where the tasting bar was located was filled with what seemed to be those who were not not part of Barrels. Winemaker Gino Razzi's list includes 24 wines and they range from five selling at $18.50 to three ranging over $50: an 2004 Ameritage Reserve for $52, a 2005 Ameritage Reserve for $55, and a 2002 Ameritage Reserve for $78. Those who have tasted the Reserves, including longtime Inquirer food critic Craig LaBan, rave about them.

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