No Comments

The Chadds Ford Trip

Having arrived home from our wine weekend in Chadds Ford Pennsylvania. I wanted to quickly get down my thoughts on a fun and educational trip. We began our trek on Friday afternoon leaving at around 4:00 PM. The weather report for the entire weekend was for rain heavy at times as a tropical type storm was quickly moving up the east coast. Having already decided rain was not about to dampen our weekend, we were off for a fun time. The drive down was a little on the frustrating side, the newly purchased Maggelin GPS unit was set to a selection of least use of freeways. You know, a nice, easy, stress free drive on less traveled roads. Well… that added about an hour and a half extra to the trip, we hit just about every red light in the state of Pennsylvania (at least it seamed that way) and the rain was coming down pretty heavy for the last hour. Although, I do have to remind myself it was rush hour on a Friday.
After a four hour trip we arrived at the bed and breakfast and were quite surprised to find it was located just inside a large new residential development. It was dark, but from what we could see it was a lovely old farm house on a beautiful piece of property, it just seemed to be in a strange location. We later learned from Shirley (the owner of the B and B) that the original owner had sold off all the farm land surrounding the house to a developer and kept the home intact as a bed and breakfast on the large piece of land. After checking in Shirley showed us to our room and reminded us to come for breakfast in the morning. We rushed out for our dinner reservation as we had called once already while stuck in traffic to get a later time. Dinner was at a local spot called the Sovana Bistro, a rather up scale place with very good seasonally inspired and locally sourced food. The restaurant is a BYOB so we were able to bring our own wine with the choice being a 2004 Silver Oak Alexander Valley, however, they also have a wine list and we were disappointed not to see any local wines on the list. After a nice dinner it was back to the B and B, and being quite tired from the drive we retired for the evening.
The next morning we went down for breakfast early and found Shirley busy making us a full breakfast starting with a fruit plate, pumpkin bread and apple tarts. The presentation of the fruit plate looked like it came from a five star restaurant, we were very impressed. We finished up with a mushroom and cheese omelet, toast, juice and coffee. Shirley also provided some great conversation on her life and local history. A nice start to our day and all included in the room price (which I must add was very reasonable). Shirley goes out of her way to make you feel welcome, so if you ever visit Chadds Ford, check out the Foxcreeks Farm Bed and Breakfast.
After breakfast it was off to check out the Brandywine Valley. We started out at Longwood Gardens, with 1,050 landscaped outdoor acres and 20 indoor gardens including a heated conservatory, the main fountain garden, Italian water garden and an open air theatre, the place is a garden lovers dream. Of course time did not allow for us to see everything, so Longwood is on the list for a return visit. It was then off to our first winery visit of the day, Twin Brook Winery off of Strasburg Rd in the town of Gap about a half hour ride from our B and B. Arriving we learned that our visit coincided with a wine trail festival weekend, meaning you could purchase a pass to taste at all five local winery’s, all were having their own special events and needless to say were pretty busy. Prior to becoming a winery the most recent activity at Twin Brook was dairy farming. Four acres of grape vines were planted in 1985, later growing to 30 acres, and in 1989 Twin Brook became a modern winery. Entering the tasting area we were guided to the barrel cellar first, where we tasted a sample of unfermented grape juice and a sample of the same from a tank fermenting for about a week. After a short question and answer session, it was back to the tasting bar upstairs where we sampled a mix of about a dozen red, white, dry and sweet wines. All good, though none really stood out for me. I would have to say the Cabernet Franc was about the best so we bought a bottle to retry at home. Twin Brook is well worth a visit if you are in the area. The winemaker is a great guy, however, I think my personal taste did not allow me to enjoy as many wines as someone who is partial to sweeter wines. Our next stop was Kruetz Creek Vineyards located off Guernsey Road in West Grove, PA. The tasting room is in the basement of the owners home and was quite crowded with a bus load arriving while we were there tasting. Again we tried about a dozen wines and were not extremely fond of any except the Ruby K Port which was pretty good. We did thoroughly enjoy our host, a woman who normally works at the tasting room located about an hour away according to what she told us.
Leaving there we headed back to Kennetts Square to find a place for lunch. We had some time to kill before the reason for our trip, an appointment with wine maker/owner Eric Miller of Chaddsford Winery. Lunch was at Newton’s on State Street, a pub and casual dining restaurant. I think you know the type I am referring to, a bar along with dining room seating. We chose the bar side so we could watch some college football. A quick lunch of sirloin burgers and we were more than satisfied, and off to Chaddsford.
We arrived at winery which sits back off the Baltimore Pike about halfway between Longwood Gardens and the Brandywine River Museum, and met up with Eric Miller. Chaddsford is recognized as the largest and most respected winery in Pennsylvania, and the crowd confirmed that. Recent reviews in prestigious publications such as Food and Wine, Gourmet Magazine, The Robb Report, and New York Times, have helped the winery achieve a national reputation for excellent wines.
We spent just about two hours with Eric who I know is a very busy man. Our visit was both educational and fun as we tasted numerous barrel samples of his wines and toured the lab, barrel room and bottling line. My opinion of Eric is he has a strong passion for making wine, absolutely loves what he is doing and is just as happy to share that passion and knowledge with other wine lovers, not to mention that he is a fun guy. I believe he realizes the responsibility of being the states largest winery and has a clear vision of how the wine he makes will help to shape Pennsylvania’s status as a premier wine region.
Brandywine Valley is a stop you have to make if you love wine and make sure Chaddsford Winery is on your list.

Comments are closed.