The past couple of years, the wine culture around the Brandywine Valley and Chester County area has really awakened. The newly formed Vintage Atlantic Wine Region is working to bring a cohesiveness to the wineries and trails of the belt surrounding Philadelphia. Several players are taking advantage of the recent focus on this territory, and a handful of new wineries and tasting rooms have taken root.
During this renewal of Mid-Atlantic wine, local winemaker Mario Patone has been quietly bringing his dream to fruition, the dream of making kick-ass wine from locally-sourced grapes. I’ve been a fan of Mario’s wine since I discovered him selling it out of his garage during my first Barrels on the Brandywine in 2011. Since then, Mario has been working hard and jumping seemingly endless hurdles with the local township to build his winery. It’s been an uphill battle to resolve issues from zoning to parking and everything in between. No expense has been spared for this beautiful facility which Mario hopes to open this year. He wants it how he wants it, period. I have a lot of respect for a man of his conviction, who is willing to follow his passion without compromise, expense be damned.
The wine production and tasting facility is coming together nicely. I recently spent a few Saturday hours chatting with Mr. Patone and I have to say that his enthusiasm is contagious. He recently installed a massive fireplace in the tasting area, which was roaring on this chilly late February afternoon. His residence sits on top of the newly-constructed winery, which resembles an Italian villa. This is not unintentional, given his roots in Italy. He shared his plans with me for private dinners in the facility, a wine library to showcase his early vintages and expanding his offerings to lesser known grape varieties. He spoke animatedly about the ups and downs of getting the business where he wants it.
Mario Patone’s family hails from Abruzzo, which helped stoke his fire for winemaking. My favorite offering in his 2011 vintage lineup is his powerful Cabernet Sauvignon. Well balanced with a strong finish, this wine has plenty of presence. The Merlot has more finesse, a substantial wine in it’s own right. The 2011 dry Rosato is a treasure, which pairs well with a hot July day if well chilled. The Fiore Bianchi is a blend of Viognier and Chardonnay, with a touch of Traminette. For Thanksgiving 2014, Mario released a Beaujolais Nouveau which was extremely good, as I’m normally not a fan. It’s light bodied but complex enough to hold it’s own against any other Nouveau out there. When the stars align and Patone Cellars is set to launch, it will be a huge boon to the Brandywine Valley.
“Presently, Patone Cellars is in pursuit of making the highest quality of wine by merging modern techniques with traditional European methods. The wines of Patone Cellars have been hand crafted in our boutique winery with a delicate balance between science and nature to ensure quality and taste.”
— Patone Cellars
— Landenberg, Pennsylvania
Remember that you heard Mario’s name right here and tell him that I sent you. I dare you to be disappointed.