County, Pennsylvania provides visitors with the opportunity
experience history from pre-Revolutionary times to the wine pioneers who
established the Bucks
Wine Trail. Swirl, sniff, and taste Bucks County
is an introduction to the wine and dine scene; eat, drink, and be merry!
its close proximity to New York City, (a 90
minute drive), and to Philadelphia, (a mere 45
minute drive), Bucks
County is perfect as a
pleasant day trip or for a getaway weekend.
The Wine Experience - Meet the Master Vintners of Bucks County
When one thinks of
the state of Pennsylvania winemaking is not something that immediately comes to
mind at least for most people; Benjamin Franklin, William Penn, and the Liberty
Bell, yes, winemaking, no. However, winemaking is indeed a part of the new
history of Bucks County, ever since Jerry Forest, founder of Buckingham Valley Vineyards,
planted his first vines back in 1966. Since then, other intrepid pioneers have
followed suit; today there are over 140 wineries in the state of Pennsylvania and 8
wineries that make up the Bucks County Wine Trail.
William Penn's First Walking Purchase
As oenophiles, Edward and I have paid homage at wineries
throughout Europe in Cyprus,
France, Germany, Italy,
Switzerland, as well as in Canada.
In the United States, we have
journeyed to wineries in Arizona; to Napa Valley and
in California; to Connecticut,
to the Finger Lakes region and to the Long Island wine region in New York, and even to wineries in Texas. We appreciate the art and science
that takes the humble grape and transforms it into a work of beauty, and enjoy
learning more about wine straight from the master vintners' mouth.
In late March 2010, Edward and I traveled to Bucks County to
discover yet another wine region of the United States, and to have a better
understanding and appreciation of winemaking in Pennsylvania, we visited four
of the wineries on the Bucks County Wine Trail including meeting with Jerry
Forest, master vintner and Bucks County pioneer at Buckingham Valley Vineyards, located in Buckingham Valley, who
had just returned from Germany where he had been visiting wineries.
Jerry Forest of Buckingham Valley Vineyards
Jerry was one of the first winemakers in Pennsylvania, however
his methods are anything but staid; his wines may be made with old world
methods, yet he fully embraces technology, and if they gave a prize for boys
with specialized toys, he would be at the top of the list. Think computer
operated wine presses, an automatic 396-bottle champagne riddling machine,
computerized stainless steel tanks, and a cross flow membrane filtration
machine that can take a cloudy or fermenting wine and make it crystal clear
without stripping it. In fact, he had the first cross flow membrane filtration
machine in the United States
in 1988 and is now on his third machine.
Buckingham Valley Vineyards Technology
Although he has degrees from the University of Pennsylvania
and Wharton School of Business his dream during college was to own a vineyard
and to produce quality, approachable, and drinkable wines. He realized his
dream planting 37 varietals in 1966 in a trial and error method, 10 or 12 of
them actually worked well, and like the little engine that could, (I think I
can, I think I can), indeed succeeded.
Training Young Vines
The 40-acre Buckingham Valley Vineyards is family owned and
operated, and sells approximately 200,000 bottles, (18,000 cases) over the
counter each year. Passion and hard work have paid off handsomely for
Buckingham Valley Vineyards, which produces red wine, white wine, rose, fruit,
and flavored wines, sparkling wines (Methode Champenoise) and their just
released Ruby Port, which until now, was only produced for family consumption.
In addition to the usual Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, they also produce some
different wines that one does not often see such as Chambourcin, which is a dry
oak-aged full-bodied red, Chancellor, which is a dry, medium-bodied red; and
DeChaunac, which is a dry, full-bodied red.
Jerry Forest Showing Debra Sparkling Wine
Vineyards is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11:00 am until 6:00 pm,
Sunday from 12:00 pm until 5:00 pm, and is closed on Monday. Visit their
website for additional information.
Road (Route 413)
Brothers Paul and Joseph Maxian own Sand Castle Winery, located in Erwinna, approximately 12 miles north
of New Hope, where
at the top of a large hill, there is indeed an impressive castle located on the
Sand Castle Winery
We met with Joseph Maxian and his wife, Magdalene and
learned that he was born and raised in Bratislava,
and grew up surrounded by vineyards where his father often "volunteered" him
and his brother to help out the neighbors during harvest time. It was not long
before the seed and the passion for making wine started to firmly take root.
Joseph and Magdalene Maxian
Joseph and his brother Paul moved to the United States, purchased their
property in 1974, planted their first vines in 1985, and sold their first
vintage to the public in 1988. Joseph's approach to winemaking is to create
old-world style wines, which includes three different styles of Johannisberg
Rieslings, Chardonnay, Rosé,
Claret, Cuvee Blush, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Alpine Spice.
Sand Castle Barrels
Sand Castle Winery
is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm, and on Sunday from
11:00 am until 6:00 pm. Visit their website for additional information.
755 River Road
Toll Free: +1-800-722-9463
The Carroll family, Tom, wife Christine,
and son, Tom Carroll, Jr. of Crossing
Vineyards are relative newcomers to the wine industry having purchased
their 200-year old property in 1985, established their vineyard in 2000,
produced their first vintage in 2002, and opened the vineyard to the public in
October 2003, which had been a dream of Tom Jr. since the age of 10.
The Carrolls, Christine, Tom Sr., and Tom Jr.
Tom Jr. is the passionate master vintner whose wines have
already received many medals in international competitions, and who modestly
describes himself as, "I am a professional janitor who maintains the quality of
the fruit, as the quality of the fruit dictates 95% of the result of the wine."
Crossing Vineyards Awards
Although his parents are involved in other aspects of the
wine business, there is perhaps another budding winemaker in the family, Tom
and his wife, Kate, have a daughter, who at the tender age of 4½ is already
swirling and nosing wine, picking out aromas, and letting her likes and
dislikes be known judging the wine solely by the nose; as for their son, age
1½, it is still too early to tell.
Crossing Vineyards Barrel Room
Crossing Vineyards produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet
Franc, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Chambourcin, as well as Chardonnay, Viognier,
Riesling, Late Harvest Vidal Blanc, and specialty wines such as Wild Berry, Le
Nouveau, and Brut Rose wines.
is open daily from 12:00 pm until 6:00 pm. Visit their website for additional
Richard and Deborah Fraser established Wycombe Vineyards in 2005, which is
the youngest of the vineyards that we visited. Although the vineyard is a new
endeavor, the 65-acre estate has been in the family since 1925.
Richard and Deborah planted their first vines in 1999,
classic Vitas Vinifera. Their approach is to create fine wines using
handpicked estate grown grapes and using Bordeaux
style pruning. Richard explained that the American soil is so rich that you can
get volume, however without pruning there is uneven ripening of the grapes,
and with pruning, you get a lower quantity of grapes, but the quality is better.
Wycombe Vineyards produces red wines that include
Chambourcin, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon, and white wines that
include Traminette, Riesling, Vidal Blanc, Naked Chardonnay, and Just Married. Family photo album labels distinguish this up-and-coming vineyard.
Wycombe Vineyards is open Wednesday through Friday
from 12:00 pm until 5:00 pm, Saturday from 12:00 pm until 6:00 pm, and Sunday
from 12:00 pm until 5:00 pm. Visit their website for additional information.
The Dining Experience - The Restaurants and Chefs of Bucks County
Bridgetown Mill House
in Langhorne was built as a private
mansion in 1791. In 1998, this stunning Federal style building was
transformed into a tiny luxury inn, and in 2003, the owners added an elegant
fine dining restaurant. Chef Michael
Sujansky, a Bucks County
native, has been creating inspired recipes since the restaurant opened.
The Bridgetown Mill House Dining Room
We had a wonderful dinner at the restaurant dining on first
courses of Roasted Quail with Chipotle and Cranberry Flavored Risotto,
and Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and Lobster Bisque with Parsley and
Roasted Quail Lobster Bisque
Other dining highlights included Pan Seared Pork Chop with
Cranberry and Blue Cheese flavored Risotto, Braised Red Cabbage, Haricot Verts,
and Port Wine Sauce; and Sautéed Atlantic Salmon with Basil Flavored
Whipped Potatoes, Buttered Asparagus, and Bordelaise Sauce.
Pan Seared Pork Chop Sautéed Atlantic Salmon
The Bridgetown Mill House is open for Dinner from
Tuesday through Saturday from 5:00 pm.
Read more about The
Bridgetown Mill House in the Restaurants section and in the Chefs' Recipes section where Chef Michael Sujansky shares a
delicious taste of the restaurant with his recipe for Lobster Bisque .
Chef Michael Sujansky
Lodging & Dining
Langhorne-Newtown Road, Route 413
The historic Logan Inn,
located in the village
of New Hope has
proudly upheld the tradition of hospitality since it opened as a tavern in
1722, and as The Ferry Inn in 1727. It is the oldest building in New Hope, is the oldest continuously operating inn in Bucks County,
and is one of the fifth oldest inns in the United States. Chef/Owner Pete
Gialias purchased this unique part of American history in 2007 and is
clearly making his mark on the restaurant scene.
Chef Pete Gialias
We had an excellent lunch at the restaurant enjoying Braised
Short Ribs served with mashed potatoes, boiled and braised white onions,
sliced carrots, and broccoli crowns in a rich and hearty gravy, and the Jumbo
Lump Crab Cake Sandwich, the restaurant's signature dish, that was served
on a housemade onion roll accompanied with lettuce, tomatoes, Bermuda onions, a
pickle spear, golden steak fries, and fried asparagus spears.
Braised Short Ribs Jumbo Lump Crab Cake Sandwich
The Logan Inn is open for Lunch Sunday through Monday
from 11:00 am until 4:00 pm, for Dinner Sunday through Thursday from 5:00 pm
until 9:00 pm, and Friday and Saturday from 5:00 pm until 10:00 pm; and for
Brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 am until 1:00 pm. There is live music
in the evening, check their website for the schedule.
Logan Inn Dining Room
Read about the Logan Inn in the Restaurants
section and in the Chefs' Recipes section where Chef Pete Gialias shares
his classic Greek recipes for Lemon Olive Oil Sauce and Moussaka .
10 West Ferry
has an abundance of interesting antique and boutique shops that have found new
life in former residences; however, perhaps the most interesting transformation
is that of the Marsha Brown
Creole Kitchen and Lounge, which is housed in a former Methodist church.
Marsha Brown Dining Room
The exterior features large fork and spoon sculptures
affixed to the building, while the interior features beautiful stained-glass
windows. Chef/General Manager Caleb Lentchner is the man in
charge of the kitchen who brings a taste of Creole cuisine to New
Hope featuring authentic Creole cuisine using many of Marsha
Chef Caleb Lentchner
We had an enjoyable dinner at the restaurant recalling fond
memories of time in New Orleans, where a few of the many highlights of our
dinner included starters of Lobster and Shrimp Bisque, which was a rich
and hearty stew with a hint of cayenne and sherry; Crawfish Spring Rolls with Mardi Gras slaw and remoulade sauce;
Crab Cheese Cake which combined jumbo lump crab meat and smoky Gouda cheese
into a delectable savory tart.
Mamére's Crab Cheese Cake Lobster and Shrimp Bisque
Main course highlights included Jambalaya made with
crabmeat, shrimp, duck, and andouille sausage; Eggplant Ophelia, a
shrimp and eggplant casserole; and the 20-ounce bone-in Cowboy Ribeye that was rubbed with a mixture of 22 spices
and sugar mixture, and then broiled in a 1500° F oven to create a crème brûlée crust, and was finished
with a generous amount of sautéed mushrooms and onions.
Cowboy Ribeye Eggplant Ophelia
Read about the Marsha
Brown Creole Kitchen and Lounge in the Restaurants and Chefs' Recipes section where Chef Caleb Lentchner shares his recipe for Seafood Court B ouillon - Creole Style Bouillabaisse .
Marsha Brown Creole Kitchen and Lounge
15 South Main
Come and discover Bucks
County for yourself, as
you swirl, sniff, and taste the goodness of the region. Eat, drink, and be
Read about Bucks County in the Restaurants and Chefs'
For information on Bucks
County please visit the website: www.VisitBucksCounty.com.
Bucks County Wine Trail Awaits
Sand Castle Winery
For information on the Bucks County Wine Trail please
visit the website: www.BucksCountyWineTrail.com.
© April 2010. Luxury Experience. www.LuxuryExperience.com. All