Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pennsylvania Wine Country

Having never been to Brandywine Valley, PA I had no idea what to expect of its wine trail. Its right in the heart of Amish country and civil war battlefields. I guessed most wines would probably be more fruit forward deserty wines (due to climate and my experience with Maryland wines in general). For the most part I was right but we managed to find a few gems. For $40/couple you can buy a pass for tastings at all 7 official wineries on the trail. This is available through most of the local hotels. You also get a collectible glass to take with you. We started off at Twin Brook winery. It was quaint. The tasting room had a gift shop with very cute wine related merchandise. We surprised to find that each of us got to choose both enjoyed the Vignoles, a sweeter white wine they served with a wonderful sheep’s milk cheese that was made locolly. The majority of the wines there I didn’t care for… They were all way to sweet for me. I was pleasantly surprised by their spice wine which can be served cold hot or room temperature.
Next we headed to Kreutz winery. This was another small winery. The family lived in a large house and set up vats, barrels and a tasting room in their basement. The wines there were very young. They are making a nice effort to produce drier wines but the temperature and climate work against them. The red wines are very young and very tart and could use some serious stems or oak aging in the production. We did find a dessert wine we liked for the purpose of blending it with strawberries and crushed ice to make slushies.
Our final stop of the day was Va La winery. http://www.valavineyards.com They technically are no longer part of the trail package but the owner and all of the staff was very accommodating and honored it anyway. This winery was the most recommended by everyone we talked to. We were very pleasantly surprised when we arrived. The winery is only about 7 and a half acres but produces about 1500 cases per year of some surprisingly very good Italian red and white wines….no fruity dessert wines here. The family came over from Italy in the late 1800’s with root stock in hand and started a farm. Over time the roots have prospered and the farm was turned into a full scale winery in 1998. All guests receive some excellent cheeses, homemade bread and excellent olive oil while tasting their wines. These wines included some very full bodied reds, all Italian grape blends. Their pinot grigio is 100% pinot grigio, a rare thing to find these days. Our favorite of the day was called “silk”: a blend of nebbiolo, cabernet franc and ---- grapes.
This winery is designed to be visited. They have picnic tables and adirondack chairs out back for guests to relax in. We received some very nice wine glasses as well. On a funy note we couldn’t help but notice the signs encouraging people to keep an eye on their kids: "Unattended children will be sent home with a 5lb bag of sugar and a drum kit" and "stray children will be given a triple espresso and a new puppy". After the tasting we bought some of the wonderful, local aged cheddar cheese, took a bottle out back and relaxed in the sunshine while enjoying a live jazz band that was performing that day. We’re already looking forward to going back in a few months to check out their newest vintages with some friends. After such a wonderful visit we decided not to pursue any other places on the trail, as we knew everywhere else would pale in comparison and be a disappointment.

We finished up the day at the Half Moon tavern in Kennett Square, PA http://www.halfmoonrestaurant.com/ . The tavern specializes in wild game and decent variety of Belgian beers. I enjoyed a wild game sampler that included Ostrich, Kangaroo and wild boar. My boyfriend had wonderful Spicy crab melt, a southwest inspired crab salad served tuna melt style. The restaurant is supposed to be featured on the travel channels’s special on the best burgers, where some of their wild game burgers will be featured. Its definitely worth checking out. So at the end of the weekend we were happy discover this small town area had a wuite a few surprises to tickle our palettes and our senses.

1 comment:

  1. Oh you had me at Nebbiolo! I am jealouse, sounds like a great time!