Summer … gone. I can’t believe that fall is here already. Time has a way of getting away from you if you don’t stop, smell the roses (or the Rosé, haha. Sorry, poorly executed wine humor) and take advantage of what life has to offer at this specific moment.
Stone Barn Cellars is located on a rural stretch of Route 100 between Downingtown & Pottstown in northern Chester County. I first heard about them from an astute member of my wine group who passes it on her commute every day. I’ve been eagerly awaiting reports of the sign in front to change from ‘Opening Soon’ to ‘Open’. I’ve also been watching them closely on Facebook for the big announcement.
They finally opened their doors on July 15 to a lot of local fanfare. I’ve been trying to get a visit in, but work & social commitments have made it difficult. I was finally able to throw a date out there that worked for my band of revelers. We had a group of about thirteen and the weather was perfect. I’m glad that it happened before sweater season. I love it when a plan comes together.
The winery & tasting room are both headquartered in a converted 150 year old barn with several rows of Niagara vines planted out front. Owners Ben Morrison and his wife Suzanne have done a spectacular job of creating a pleasant & welcoming environment to enjoy their young lineup of locally sourced juice. The winery is flanked by a large deck on one side of the tasting room and a handicapped accessible ramp wraps around to the other side. In addition, there is seating in the backyard. Bring the whole family.
Tastings are $2 for six wines which is waived with a purchase. Patrons can choose from five whites, five reds (both dry & semi-sweet) and two specialty wines. I of course tried all of the dry reds and mixed in a few others. I spent the last few weeks evaluating Riesling so I was ready for a glass or two of some powerful PA red. My choice today was the 2011 Wildman Red, a light & spicy, Lemberger based gem that had a good presence and should age well. Young & tannic, nice finish. Another standout was the Spice of Life. This spicy dessert wine can be served chilled, warm or at room temperature and oozes with pumpkin aromas & flavor. More details later on this unique wine, very nicely done.
The winery makes their own brand of Sangria, which I understand has been a big hit since opening. They mix a Peach Sangria with the semi-sweet, white Morning Glory and a Cran-Grape with the Deliciously Red, also semi-sweet. Michelle & I shared one of each and they were fantastic. I’m curious what the staff will come up with at Christmas time.
I want to note that since Stone Barn is the newest member of the local wine community, their young offerings have the opportunity to gain some complexity over time. But what I tasted today is very drinkable now, especially the sweeter stuff. The first vintage here was 2011 and they are off to an excellent start. The winery just brought in four thousand pounds of Chardonnay grapes from the farm next door and the same amount of Merlot from the southern part of the county.
We spent the afternoon out on the deck and enjoyed the early fall weather. Visitors can bring food to enjoy on site with Stone Barn’s versatile selection of wine. Which we did, we usually overdo it. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s a good thing we got there early because the place got more crowded as the afternoon wore on. A busload celebrating a 60th birthday rolled in as well, which made for a lively tasting room. A talented young muse provided acoustic entertainment, complete with her own rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’. The spacious room has high ceilings, numerous tables, nice acoustics and a large tasting bar that wraps around the front part of the room.
Going back to my statement about living in the moment, I don’t know where that three hours went on this perfect Saturday afternoon. Or the numerous bottles of Concord & Deliciously Red that we went through. I’m thankful today for good friends, tasty food and quality Pennsylvania juice.
Cheers to Ben & Suzanne and the friendly, attentive staff at Stone Barn Cellars. This is just the beginning.