October has been designated Pennsylvania Wine Month by the Pennsylvania Winery Association. The transition into fall is the perfect time to take advantage of PA’s rich wine culture and award winning juice. Activities are going on at wineries all over the state for the entire month. Take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and experience it for yourself if you can.
The signature Harvest Festival by the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail has become an annual staple of my fall activities. As the weekends have been filling up, I was afraid this one might pass me by. Luckily, a scheduled family visit to Lancaster County made a stopover at two of the Valley’s finest possible today.
Black Walnut Winery’s impact on the local wine scene is well documented. They continue to offer innovative blends in their lineup as well as come up with creative local events (Fire & Wine is already slated for next year). Also, their tasting room in Phoenixville has helped the town’s resurgence into a trendy shopping destination.
Today the winery’s beautifully restored barn in Sadsburyville was decked out for Halloween and there was already a bustling crowd here in the early afternoon. Yes, complete with your standard limo full of bachelorettes. They always seem to manage to get to these places just ahead of me.
The main bar was two lines deep so we were directed to the slightly less busy side room. Behold, I found the bachelorette party. Black Walnut co-owner Valerie was overseeing the activity here. She explained that two busy tasting rooms during the festival and two other events today has spread the staff a bit thin.
The standard passport tasting today includes any seven wines. The white Port-style Deception was not part of the standard tasting and cost a dollar per pour. Money well spent, I might add. I got Vanilla on the nose and hints of caramel. Similar to brandy. There’s not another wine quite like it on the Trail. Rumor has it that a Merlot based Port-style offering with notes of bourbon may be making an appearance on the tasting list soon. And it might be called Seduction. But don’t quote me.
Some other notables:
- Tryst 2010 – A 50/50 Pinot Noir/Merlot blend. Very powerful & finishes nicely. This wine can be aged for awhile but it was awesome now.
- Bank Barn Red NV – This wine has mild sweetness up front which evolves into more tart flavors. A friendly table wine which will complement barbeque or Thanksgiving dinner.
- Merlot 2009 – In your face berry & cherry flavors. Great presence. Finishes light.
- Smitten 2009 – Syrah/Merlot blend with seasonal spices. Christmas in a glass. Really.
The complete list of Black Walnut’s current offerings can be found HERE
The Trail is promoting “Think Pink, Drink Pink” during the month of October. In recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, all BV Wine Trail wineries will donate $1.00 per bottle from select wines to local breast cancer charities. In addition to that, all wineries are participating in “Stomp for a cure!” to kick things off on Saturday, October 5th. Five dollar minimum donation will give participants an opportunity to partake in the old school practice of grape stomping.
Black Walnut scheduled their stomp at 4 p.m., but our next stop, Twin Brook Winery, was set up to go at two. We got there just in time to witness the messy festivities. Twin Brook’s Winemaker, Tim Jobe was overseeing the event. There were two large vats of fresh grapes waiting I have to say it looked like a lot of fun. I was informed that the stomped grapes won’t go into the wine. They weren’t really ready to pick anyway. There may be a market for old school crushed wine in the future, I guess time will tell.
We were able to sample six of any Twin Brook wines, minus the Esperanza, which is their sparkling, estate grown Chardonnay based wine which won awards in the U.S. and Internationally. I imagine they don’t want open bottles of this fine sparkler sitting around & going flat.
When doing consecutive tastings at different wineries, differences in winemaking styles can be very apparent. Twin Brook is known for their sweeter wines. Though both are very good, Black Walnut and Twin Brook each offer distinct character in their wines, which comes out in back to back tastings.
- 2011 Vidal Reserve – Delicious, award winning off-dry wine with pear & citrus on the nose. Flavors of summer fruit.
- 2011 Vignoles – Sweet & medium bodied. Swimming with notes of tropical fruit. The consensus from the staff is that it beats the pants off of the last vintage.
- Icebreaker Red NV – A dry, complex Norton blend with dark cherry flavors. Very enjoyable wine throughout. Smooth, even finish.
- Strasburger Red NV – Dark fruit flavors & aromas. Easy drinking, sweet wine.
This year marks ten years of the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail. The word is out as these events are getting more crowded every year. Book early and get out to see what the trail has to offer.
Wine & beef jerky coming up next weekend! Followed by our Maryland invasion. Stay tuned.
Thanks for reading!