Through trial & error I’ve learned that four wineries in one afternoon may be pushing it a bit. I mean, is it fun? Absolutely. Just ask the half dozen bachelorette parties that we ran into through the course of today’s trip. And except for one stop, I’ve been to all of these places before and tasted their wines. So no big deal, right? However there were a few surprises today, which I’m eager to share. Keep reading.
We were about halfway through Havertown when I realized I forgot our passports. So it’s going to be that kind of day? Delaware County is relatively small square mileage-wise but there are a lot of stop lights & impatient drivers between our residence and today’s destination in rural West Grove. It shouldn’t be a big deal, we’re meeting up with friends from the wine trail, who could vouch for me. My OCD won, though. I was a good soldier & went back for them. There they were, right on the fridge.
It’s been about two years since I’ve been to Kreutz Creek Vineyard. Fran and I snuck into the tasting room just ahead of a bus. The rest of our eager party was already there. So, armed with a variety of pepperoni, crackers, pizzelles, a variety of cheeses & bottled water, we strategically claimed one of the standing room only tables (We’ve done this a few times).
Kreutz had a generous selection of pours ready to go today. The tasting consisted of the following, in this order:
Pinot Grigio – Crisp & unoaked
Vidal Blanc – Hints of citrus
Proprietor’s Red – 90% Chambourcin/10% Kordeaux (Kreutz’s signature red blend). My pick today from Kreutz.
Cabernet Sauvignon – Dark, 100% Cab Sav, aged in French oak. This is Kreutz’s first Cab release on it’s own. The grapes have historically been used in the Kordeaux. (Karen described this as “Inky”. That’s one for the books.)
Steuben – A Concord blend w/ strawberry flavors. Steuben is used at Kreutz Creek Summer events in slushies & sangria.
Niagara – From the Concord grape. Think Welch’s grape juice with a kick.
Holiday Wassail – Made with Niagara grapes & served warm or chilled. Fermented with cinnamon & cloves.
Ruby “K” Port – Kreutz’s Port-like dessert wine. We tried this by itself and then with chocolate, which complemented it very well. I can personally vouch for the fact that it is great poured over vanilla ice cream.
The winery was quite crowded today. The weather was agreeable and there were a number of buses & limos. Five weekends this March may have helped the numbers. This is the most people I’ve seen out to this event since I started going.
The second stop was the Trail’s brand spanking new member, Borderland Vineyards. The GPS couldn’t even find it so I had to consult Google to manually find the address. Yeah, I heard you … First World Problems, right? There’s a joke in there somewhere about phones getting smarter and people going the opposite way. I’ll work on it.
Anyway, the farm is about six miles south of Kreutz, and almost against the Delaware & Maryland borders. It’s pretty rural down here. The tasting was being held in a large, heated tent next to the farmhouse. There was music, outdoor food and a massive line for the tasting. The staff informed me that this was a slow day so far. Kudos to them.
I don’t have a lot of information about Borderland just yet, stay tuned. But their wines are all on the drier side, which complements the mostly sweeter local selections quite well. The 2011 vintage was their first. The following wines were being poured today:
2011 unoaked Chardonnay – Light & crisp. Made from Lancaster County grapes.
2012 unoaked Chardonnay – Grapes from Chester County & heavier than the 2011.
2012 Leaping Sheep Riesling – A drier Riesling with a very floral aroma.
2011 Sheared Sheep Blush – Not your standard blush, a more French style rosé. Dry. The lable has a sheep blushing, get it?
2011 Preminée – A very unique taste. Preminée is a softer, lighter Merlot. Chester County grown grapes.
2011 Merlot – A more traditional Merlot. Did I mention that their wines are dry here?
2012 Merlot (from the barrel) – Delicious. More acidic. There’s something about young wine right from the barrel.
The Sheepwarmer mulled wine (They have a sheep theme going on here, remind me to get the story on that) was being served last. They mull the Sheared Sheep Blush in spices and serve it in the glass with cranberries & orange. I could see this selling heavily around the holidays.
There was a festive atmosphere here and I could have stayed all afternoon. The staff was friendly, though very busy and I really enjoyed the wine. Our friends Debbie & Greg had to depart for another engagement though, and we weren’t done. So we pushed onward.
Paradocx Vineyard is ALWAYS a good time. Less than three miles from Borderland, and even closer to the tri-state point, Paradocx’s tasting room has a jubilant feel and they host many concerts & events over the summer. Maybe it’s the Hawaiian leis that they pass out at the entrance.
The stations were spread out today. In the regular tasting room, the tea/wine infusion Twine was being poured, along with a mulled blend of reds with cloves, cinnamon & cardemom. I should have saved this stuff for last but whatever.
I found out that the whites & reds were being poured separately in the adjoining tank filled warehouse. These stand up heaters that they use are awesome. I may have to invest in one or two myself for entertaining. The barrel room pouring locations:
Old Stone Vineyard Chardonnay (out of the tank)
Whitewash – Quote by C.J.: “Longwood Gardens in a glass”. You have to be local to know what that means. Let’s just say it’s floral.
2010 Cabernet Sauvignon – Medium toasted and aged in American oak. Nice structure on this.
Barn Red – Sangiovese/Cabernet Franc blend.
Paradocx was promoting their annual “Cheeseburgers in Paradocx” event during Barrels on the Brandywine again this year. I couldn’t find them today though. It’s possible they ran out, or it was too cold to set up the grill. Like I mentioned earlier … A LOT of people out today.
Talented winemaker Mario Patone was on site, as Paradocx graciously allowed him to pour & sell his wine on the grounds for Barrels. He was offering four of his outstanding selections for tasting as follows:
Fiori Bianchi – A smooth Chardonnay/Viognier blend.
Cabernet Sauvignon – Authentic. (My red bias is showing)
Merlot – The cork was nice and dark coming out of the bottle for the first time.
Sangiovese – Loved this.
He is still working to get his winery & tasting room open for business and it is slower going than they initially expected. My group & I were chatting him up about the progress and he is obviously very excited about the project. As luck would have it, he had to run back to his winery to get some Sangiovese (which sold out) and he graciously offered to give us a tour. We couldn’t resist.
Mario’s project was right up the road, less than a mile away on Route 841. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this place is magnificent. A little piece of Tuscany here in rural Chester County. Mario designed the structure with the living quarters for the family upstairs and the winery & tasting room below. There are plans to host authentic dinners to pair with his top notch vino. It’s still a work in progress, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say it will be completely worth the wait. He is doing it right and obviously meticulous, passionate & sparing no expense.
If you are interested in attending Barrels on the Brandywine next year, I suggest picking up passports early. This thing is really taking off.
Thanks for reading!