Saturday, August 8, 2009

Black Walnut's spacious bank barn becomes Pennsylvania's newest winery

Congrats to Val and Lance Castle and Karen and Jack Kuhn, whose longtime dream of opening a winery was realized on July 31 when Black Walnut Winery in Chester County opened its doors. The couples go back to 2001 when they first started winemaking; several years later they took the first steps toward transitioning their passion into a business.
Overcoming a number of hurdles the past year, and still with some work to do, the renovated (almost) 200-year-old bank barn opened for business a little more than a week ago. It's worth the trip out Route 30 (about 2 miles from where two-lane Route 30 turns into an elevated bypass and heads toward Downingtown and King of Prussia) to see what they've done and try the wines. By the way, if you're headed east of Route 30, stay on the business route. You'll find the winery on the right-hand side about 2 miles after passing a Wawa and crossing Route 10.

From the wide-planked flooring to the gorgeous high ceilings, you'll spend the first few minutes just wandering around the top floor and marveling at how they've converted what some called the oldest antique shop in America into the home of Pennsylvania's newest winery. A member of the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail, expect it to open officially Labor Day weekend or the weekend after. But already on Friday afternoon, as we were finishing up our tastings, several parties were funneling into the place. The winery itself is located below the tasting room. Tasting hours are noon to 6 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

No grapes are grown on the premises, all are brought in from other vineyards, primarily from other members of the trail. Tastings are $6 to try any seven of the six whites and five reds that the winery has bottled. We wound up carrying away a bottle of Mischief ($18), a blend of 2008 Pinot Gris and 2007 Chardonnay that we found interesting and worthy of a spot in our wine refrigerator. And, frankly, we liked the doggone name.
And there were other to savor. Wine writer Roger Morris, who has earned the title of expert when it comes to the wines of the Brandywine Valley, included Black Walnut's Blanc Franc ($16) on his third annual News Journal Case of the Brandywine. The Black Walnut's owners describe this 2007 wine as made of grapes "harvested two weeks before the other Cabernet Franc grapes, crushed and pressed within 24 hours after crush to limit the contact between juice and red skins. The result is a white wine with soft fruity flavors and with about 1 1/2 percent residual sugar, a soft sweet finish."
In short, congrats to the state's newest winery. Here's to a long and fruitful future of producing good wines.