Grace Winery

 

Owner(s): Chris and Vicki Le Vine

Winemaker: 

Open to Public 

Fri 4 to 8; Sat-Sun 12 to 5

50 Sweetwater Rd, Glen Mills, PA 19342

phone: 610-459-4711

email: info@gracewinery.com

website


Grace Winery Profile

     Written by Brian—Jul 30, 2018

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The Brandywine Valley in Southeastern Pennsylvania contains several wineries of note. It is also a particularly scenic and historic section of the Quaker State. One winery that epitomizes all of these qualities is The Inn at Grace Winery near the town of Glen Mills.

The property that is now home to the inn and winery was part of a much larger tract originally owned by Sir William Penn (1644-1718), who founded Pennsylvania as a Quaker refuge. The main building that serves as the Inn at Grace is a historic Quaker-style home built in 1734. The winery and tasting room are located in a restored and renovated stone barn that dates to the 1750s. 

Centuries later, in 2008, the vines were planted in preparation for winemaking. Two acres of estate vines now contribute to 1500 cases of wine annually. Most of that is sold direct to consumer through the tasting room that was completed and opened to the public in 2012.

The estate wines are all well crafted and worthy of note. I tasted four during my visit. These included a Pinot Gris, a pair of Chardonnays and the Dragonfly red Bordeaux blend. The Reserve Chardonnay was a particular standout. Barrel fermented, but not overly oaked, this wine was balanced with a big mouth feel and enough acidity to pair well with chicken or fish. 

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The tasting room is as amazing as the surrounding property. Stop in during regular hours for a tasting and plan to linger. If wine is not your thing, Grace is partnered with Dock Street Brewery, so beer is also on the menu. Friday night happy hour or live music on Sunday afternoon may provide additional motivation.

Located just minutes from metro Philadelphia, The Inn at Grace Winery is an easy afternoon outing that will introduce you to quality Pennsylvania wine. I am a strong advocate and huge fan of this venue. So after you stop in, please let me know what you think.


Karamoor Estate

 

Owner(s): Nick and Athena Karabots

Winemaker: Kevin Robinson

Not Open to Public

Tasting room coming in 2019

Fort Washington, PA 19034

phone: (215) 641-0233

email: info@karamoorwines.com

website


Karamoor Estate Profile

      Written by Brian—Oct 19, 2018

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The area around Philadelphia is home to some of the Quaker State’s best wineries. While most are clustered to the south at least one leading producer is just north of the city. Karamoor Estate Wines does not get the attention they deserve, but I suspect that will change over the next few years. This may indeed be one of the best wineries you’ve never heard of.

First of all, Karamoor has no public tasting room. There are plans to build one from a historic 19th Century, stone bank barn on the edge of the property, but that idea is only slowly coming to fruition. The truth is that things do not happen quickly at Karamoor, they evolve to perfection before being revealed to the public. Owners Nick and Athena Karabots have a vision and they will not compromise.

From the road, there are few signs that Karamoor exists. The address is not advertised. It is possible to join a public tour or groups can schedule a visit, but it is not possible to drop in unannounced. We called in advance and met with Sales and Marketing Director Cheri Morrison, who gave us a grand tour and let us taste a few of the wines. The property is absolutely stunning and it is easy to understand why the Karabots are unwilling to move quickly and potentially corrupt the small paradise they have created.

Of the estate’s 250 acres, only 27 are currently under vine. Lucy Morton was retained to supervise the three-year planting process that began in 2003. More will eventually be planted, but the existing acreage produced its first vintage in 2007. Today the winery is bottling between 4000 and 5000 cases annually. There are no hybrids or native grapes used in the Karamoor wines. Only French varieties are grown and only estate fruit is processed.

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To oversee production, the Karabots hired veteran winemaker Kevin Robinson. A native of California and U.C. Davis graduate, Robinson came to Karamoor from Rutherford Hill and 26 years of experience in Napa and Lake County, California. It is safe to say that Robinson has come to understand local conditions and has helped the Karamoor program evolve into one that is truly world class. There is nothing bottled by Robinson that is less than stellar.

We had tasted Karamoor wines previously, but never had an opportunity to work through more than a couple offerings. We tried about a half dozen of the Karamoor wines during our stop and we were not disappointed. The estate Viognier was full of pear and apple notes with bright acidity. The Sauvignon Blanc was a real standout and my favorite among the whites. It was perfectly balanced with rich citrus and grapefruit notes.

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The wine that totally took me by surprise was the estate single-varietal Petit Verdot. I’m accustomed to finding good ones in Virginia, but the Karamoor example was easily as good as any I’ve experienced in the Mid Atlantic (which is the same as saying the best you’ll find anywhere). Hints of tobacco, dark fruit and structured tannins stood out in this big wine. It is a contender in any competition and a brilliant example of what can be done with PV.

So, you can find the Karamoor wines at some retailers or, even better, join the wine club. You might also try to find space in one of the group tours. As things develop with the tasting room, I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, if you do happen to make it out to the Karamoor Estate, please let me know your thoughts.


Kreutz Creek Vineyard

 

Owner(s): Jim and Carol Kirkpatrick

Winemaker: Jim Kirkpatrick

Open to Public 

Sat 11 to 6; Sun 12 to 5

553 S. Guernsey Road,  West Grove, PA 19390

phone: (410) 914-5122

email: kreutzcreekvineyards@msn.com

website


Kreutz Creek Vineyard Profile

     Written by Brian—Jul 8, 2018

Jim and Carol Kirkpatrick started planting grapes in 1998 with an eye toward making fine wine. They initially sold fruit, but in 2003 they opened a tasting room in the basement of their home and began selling wine under the Kreutz Creek Vineyard label. Today they bottle about 3500 cases annually made primarily from their eight acres of estate fruit. Only Pinot Grigio is sourced from elsewhere in the state.

Jim Kirkpatrick is the winemaker and learned his craft primarily from seminars and other winemakers. Despite a lack of lofty credentials, Jim is producing a variety of well-crafted wines. The whites are well balanced and the reds have enough complexity to make them excellent examples of Pennsylvania wine. Standouts from the tasting menu include the Vidal Blanc, Chambourcin Rosé and a Port-style dessert wine. 

The rural acreage feels like it is many miles from the city, but Philadelphia is less than 30 minutes away. Furthermore, Kreutz Creek is surrounded by other great PA wineries, the property is pet friendly and the Kirkpatrick's are gracious hosts. There are no good reasons not to stop by. So after you do, please let me know what you think.


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Paradocx Vineyard

 

Owner(s): Hoffman and Harris Families

Winemaker: Gabriel Rubilar

Open to Public 

Fri 12 to 8; Sat-Sun 12 to 6

1833 Flint Hill Rd, Landenberg, PA 19350

phone: (610) 255-5684

email: info@paradocx.com

website


Paradocx Vineyard Profile

    Written by Brian—Jun 30, 2018

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Situated in the Brandywine Valley among some of Pennsylvania's best wineries, Paradocx Vineyard has been producing fine wine since 2003. The 101-acre property was historically a dairy farm, but today 30 of those acres are devoted to 14 different varieties of grape. The estate fruit is processed onsite by winemaker Gabriel Rubilar to bottle 15,000 cases annually.

The Paradocx moniker is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the couples, all of whom are doctors, that jointly own the winery. This ownership team pooled resources to convert a large existing barn into a very cozy tasting room and modern winery complex. Visitors will find ample tasting space and additional room for public and private events.

I tasted through about a half dozen wines and found all of them to be of respectable quality. I can give high marks to the unoaked Chardonnay and the single-varietal Cabernet Franc. Both were expertly crafted. The Chambourcin rosé also merits a shout out.

The Paradocx version of box wine is a paint can. A pair of wines aptly named White Wash and Barn Red are dispensed from this container. It is admittedly gimmicky, but cute. The unique vessel is almost certainly a crowd pleaser.

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Paradocx Vineyard is a fun stop on your tour of Southeast Pennsylvania wineries. The staff is customer oriented, the venue is lovely and the wines are quite good. After your visit, please let me know what you think.


Penns Woods Winery

 

Owner(s): Gino Razzi

Winemaker: Gino Razzi

Open to Public 

Mon-Thu 12 to 5:30; Fri-Sat 11 to 6; Sun 11 to 5

124 Beaver Valley Road, Chadds Ford, Pa 19317

phone: 610-459-0808

email: info@pennswoodswinery.com

website


Penns Woods Winery Profile

     Written by Brian—Mar 11, 2015

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I have visited and written about hundreds of wineries, but my visit to Penns Woods was singular in every respect. According to American Winery Guide, it is one of the 222 Pennsylvania wineries, but it stands out among that number. It has been my understanding that the quality of wine in the Keystone State is spotty, but I had it on good authority that Penns Woods was making quality wine. Well, that is probably a slight understatement.

I was headed up to the area to film a video along with Marc Supsic of Wine Living for another project. It was Marc, who turned me on to Penns Woods, which is just a few miles south of Philadelphia. We met at the winery, which does not share the same property with the tasting room. Winemaker/owner Gino Razzi, his daughter Carley and the assistant winemakers were all on hand to meet us and answer questions. It’s a team that is doing amazing things to elevate the reputation of Pennsylvania wine. Gino and Carley are playing key roles in that campaign.

Gino supplies the vision and a great deal of the winemaking passion. He was born in Abruzzo, Italy, grew up around wine and learned to make wine at an early age. After moving to the United States and serving in the Marine Corps, Gino started a successful wine import business. For a time, his passion for winemaking was pursued as little more than a serious hobby. Of course, that’s how it often starts. Gino soon began to realize the potential for Pennsylvania wine and took the next step. Today, Penns Woods is one of the state’s premier boutique wineries producing about 3500 cases annually. 

I was able to sample about a half-dozen Penns Woods wines during my visit. All of the whites were uniformly excellent and all were gold-medal winners. The Chardonnay was a particular standout and demonstrated all the best qualities of that varietal. I will say, however, that later in the day I tried the Traminette. Traminette is a Gewürztraminer hybrid, that is grown widely throughout the eastern United States. Its beautiful floral and tropical notes and hints of spice lend it well to the making of quality wine. I recently tasted a Traminette that was selected as the best Ohio wine of 2012. I think the Penns Woods example may be superior. I’ll do a blind tasting and report more on this in a later post.

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We also sampled a handful of red wines. Penns Woods makes a Chambourcin that is a gold-medal winner and a wine to write home about. I’ve tasted many Virginia examples and this one will stand up to the very best. Gino also opened a 2005 Meritage from his wine library. It was full of dark fruit, with hints of chocolate, soft tannins and a finish that just went on forever. This was an offering made from the old-growth Penns Woods fruit and demonstrated that the wines have aging potential.

If Gino is the driving force behind the production of award-winning wines, his daughter Carley has been equally influential in molding the tasting room and customer experience. She took the old farmhouse that sits on the thirty-acre vineyard property and transformed it into a well-decorated and very comfortable tasting space. The rooms have been filled with tables and the back porch was windowed in and now accommodates live music in addition to guests. The Penns Woods calendar is full of special events for both adults and families. The tasting staff is not comprised of college students reciting a tasting script, Carley has organized a group of regular, long-standing wine stewards, who are knowledgeable and customer oriented. Everything about the operation is first rate.

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There are plans afoot to build a new and larger tasting room. Based on the throng that was assembled during my visit, more space is necessary. The existing building will be pressed into service as a special event center and Carley has even bigger plans for the future.

I could go on at greater length singing the praises of Penns Woods. I do believe they are setting the bar for Pennsylvania wine and represent the future of that region. I am excited to do a little more exploring in this area, but I’ll definitely return to Penns Woods. If you are anywhere in the area or happen to be visiting Philadephia, you should make it a point to stop in. When you do, I’d love to hear what you think.


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Stargazers Vineyard

 

Owner(s): John Weygandt

Winemaker: John Weygandt

Open to Public 

Call or visit website for hours

1024 Wheatland Dr, Coatesville, PA 19320

phone: (610) 486-0422

email: See website

website


Stargazers Vineyard Profile

      Written by Brian—May 20, 2018

Pennsylvania has been producing wine since the 1970s. It is fair to say that Stargazers Vineyard in the Brandywine Valley was one of the viticultural pioneers.  Owner and winemaker John Weygant started planting grapes in 1979, which makes his vines the state’s third oldest vinifera (European varieties) plantings.

 In the early days, Weygant sold his fruit to Chadsford Winery. It was not until 1997 that Stargazers started producing under its own label. Today, the 12 acres under vine are turning out between 1000 and 2000 cases annually.  While most of the wine is made from estate fruit, some Riesling is imported from the Finger Lakes and Vidal Blanc is purchased from a grower in Lancaster County. 

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Weygant is growing and bottling a lineup of very interesting wines. He is one of the few United States growers of Arneis, which is a Northern Italian grape originating in the Piedmont. The Stargazers example displays ripe pear and low acidity, which is typical for this variety. 

Cabernet Franc, which does well regionally, was one of the standouts with nice fruit and hints of black pepper in the finish. Another grape that does well locally is Grüner Veltliner and it was probably my favorite Stargazers wine.  The hints of peach and balanced acidity really make this a great food wine.

Finding the tasting room was mildly challenging. Part of the roadbed on the primary route has been washed out and it is my understanding that it will never be repaired. It was easy enough to navigate around this and detour signs help mark the alternate route. Weygant told me that the road closing has led to a reduction in tasting room traffic. In response, he has opened a satellite tasting room in the town of Lititz.

Despite any minor inconvenience posed by the road closing, a visit to the main tasting room is still a good idea. Weygant is typically behind the tasting bar and he is a wealth of knowledge about the local region and the history of Pennsylvania wine. The proximity to Philadelphia and the historical significance of Stargazers Vineyard make this an important stop as you explore wineries in the Quaker State. After you stop in, please let me know what you think.