Owner(s): Brad and Lele Galer
Winemaker: Virginia Mitchell
Open to Public
Fri-Sat 12 to 8; Sun 12 to 7
700 Folly Hill Rd, Kennett Square, PA 19348
phone: (484) 899-8013
Galer Estate Vineyard & Winery Profile
Written by Brian—Feb 14, 2018
You might be surprised to learn that there are a couple hundred wineries in Pennsylvania. The overall reputation for quality is somewhat spotty, but the southeastern corner of the state near Philadelphia is one the bright spots. Located about 30 miles west of the city, Galer Estate Vineyard & Winery is one of that region’s premier producers.
I recently stopped by the tasting room on a particularly grim winter morning. I sat down with owner Brad Galer and winemaker Virginia Mitchell to talk about the winery and taste a few of their offerings.
The Galer Estate project began back in 2005 when Brad’s wife Lele told him to “find a hobby.” As often happens, that pastime grew in scope to take on a life of its own and is now a full-fledged boutique winery business.
Lucy Morton was brought in as a vineyard consultant. The result was seven acres of high-density vines planted over 3 years at Galer’s Home Vineyard. In 2008 the Galer’s purchased an existing winery, which included four additional acres under vine. Today, by supplementing the seven acres of estate fruit with a small additional of locally sourced grapes, Galer Estate produces between 2500 and 3000 case of wine annually. Current production levels are unlikely to increase, but the goal is to continue improving quality and to eventually use 100% estate fruit.
The tasting room and winery were a separate challenge. The space required major renovation. The Galer’s consulted with John Levenburg and upgraded the winery equipment. Lele remodeled the tasting room to create a comfortable space for visitors. It all came together and opened to the public in 2011.
Winemaker Virginia Mitchell received formal enology training from Penn State and gained practical experience in northeastern Pennsylvania and Australia before landing at Galer Estate. In my estimation, she is a rising star in the industry. There is nothing pedestrian about her wine. She is currently bottling wines that I will categorize as great and a couple flirt with world-class status.
We tasted through five of the Galer Estate offerings. The whites included a Vidal Blanc done in a vino verde style, a Grüner Veltliner and reserve Chardonnay. All were well crafted and perfectly balanced. The Vidal and Grüner, in particular, were just over the top. The bright acidity and tropical notes of the Vidal stood out and made it one of the best examples of that varietal that I have ever tasted.
We also sampled a pair of reds. The Bordeaux-style blend was solid, but Mitchell nailed the single varietal Cabernet Franc. It had hints of tobacco on the nose, red fruit mid palate and a long finish. It is easy to understand how it won double gold in San Francisco.
The wine is enough reason to visit, but the area offers more than just Galer Estate. Other nearby wineries of note include Penns Woods, Va La and Stargazers. Longwood Gardens is right next-door and the lovely little town of Kennet Square offers a variety of dining options. So there are plenty of excuses to explore the area.
At the end of the day, this is one winery that should not be missed. You cannot pretend to know anything about Pennsylvania wine until you have visited Galer Estate Vineyard and Winery. After you stop in, please let me know what you think.