If you follow my blog, you know that wine tasting is one of my favorite things to do. There are a number of wineries in the southeastern Pennsylvania area. This past Saturday, we visited a couple of wineries in Chester County, PA. The area is known as the Brandywine Valley, and the wineries are all part of the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail.
Here is a little bit about each winery, along with some of my notes about the wines I tasted.
Borderland Vineyard is located in Landenburg, PA. If you are coming from the city of Philadelphia, just take Route 1 past Longwood Gardens, all the way out to Route 841.
Tip #1: The vineyard is located on a windy road and there isn’t a very big sign. Drive slowly as you are approaching, or you’ll miss the turn in.
The vineyard is located on Fall Line Farm, which is 66 acres of land including fields, streams and woodlands. George and Janet Kalb purchased the property in 1946 and raised their family there. In 2008, two of their children – Kurt and Karen – decided to plant some vines on the property and begin making wine. There are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, Malbec and Syrah grapes all planted.
The tasting room is located inside the red barn at the end of the driveway on the property. When we pulled up on Saturday, the vineyard dog – Tilly – greeted us.
Inside the barn, there are several picnic tables set up for you to sit and enjoy a glass of wine inside. If you walk through the small door on the right, you’ll enter the tasting bar area.
Tip #2: The tasting bar area is quite small. There are only 4 bar stools at the bar, and a couple of chairs on the side. It’s nice to have a personalized tasting, but if the winery is busy, be patient as there isn’t much room.
When we visited, we were the only two customers there, so we got plenty of attention from the person doing our tasting and had a nice chat. I have visited Borderland Vineyards several times over the years, and their wines have really improved from what they were when they first started producing. I enjoyed everything I tried. Here are my notes on the wines I tasted.
2013 Unoaked Chardonnay: I am not a big fan of chardonnay, mainly because I find most winemakers over oak it. So, I’m always pleased to see an unoaked chardonnay on the tasting menu. Borderland’s chardonnay is quite good. It’s very light and crisp, but also quite acidic. It’s pretty unusual for a white wine to still be holding up well after 4 years, which tells me that this is a very good quality wine.
2015 Sauvignon Blanc: This was my least favorite of the wines I tried. It was very floral on the nose – almost too floral. This wine was also quite acidic. It was light and crisp, but very floral in taste as well.
2016 Sauvignon Blanc: This was my favorite wine that I tried, which just goes to show how different wine can be from year to year. Same grapes, but a totally different taste between the 2015 and 2016. I found this wine to be more citrusy. I got a lot of peach on the nose and in the mouth as well. Very crisp and clean.
2013 Reserve Merlot: As with chardonnay, merlot is not my favorite varietal of wine. However, I did enjoy this one. There was a lot of vanilla on the nose. It had lots of tannins and a lot of berry. I would have loved to have a big steak with this wine. It would be a perfect pairing.
2015 Cabernet Sauvignon: This wine had a lot of cherry on it. I think it would be perfect with some good, dark chocolate. A little bit too much berry for me for a cabernet sauvignon, but an enjoyable wine.
After our tasting, we each got a glass of wine and sat outside with some cheese and crackers and enjoyed the warm autumn day. It was a very nice visit!
Tip #3: Borderland Vineyard is dog friendly, so bring your well-behaved pooch when you come to visit. You can also bring your own food, so bring some cheese and crackers and enjoy a glass (or bottle) of wine. They have both indoor and outdoor seating.
Borderland Vineyards is open on Fridays from 4-7, Saturdays from 1-7, and Sundays from 1-5. For more information about their wines or visiting their vineyard, check their website here.
Paradocx Vineyard is located just a couple miles down the road from Borderland in Landenburg, PA.
The vineyard is owned by the Hoffman and Harris families. The four principle owners are all practicing physicians, hence the name of the vineyard (“pair of docs”). The property is over 100 acres in size, 30 acres of which are planted with grapes. Gabriel Rubilar is the head winemaker.
Over the years, Paradocx has really built up their facility, making a visit there an “experience” and not just a wine tasting. They have a large area with corn hole and other games, as well as picnic tables. Additionally, they have a stage area where they host concerts. On this particular weekend in the fall, they had fire pits going, and they sold marshmallows that the kids could roast.
To buy wine or do a tasting, you need to go into the tasting room. They do tastings a little different. There are 3 different wine flights that you can select from – whites, reds or sweets.
Tip #4: If you want to taste more wines, get two different flights to split between two people. Because we got a white and red flight, we were able to taste all of the dry wines.
Tip #5: If you don’t like wine, Paradocx has beer and whiskey as well. They had Levante Brewery beer on tap. You could do a beer or whiskey flight as well.
I had not been to Paradocx in a few years. I was a bit disappointed in the wines this visit, as I felt they weren’t as good as they had been in the past. Here are my tasting notes on the wines I tried.
2015 Pinot Blanc: This wine was very light and citrusy. In fact, it was so light, I thought it was lacking a little in taste. In addition, the wine was also very acidic.
2016 Pinot Grigio: This wine was very floral and very dry. Additionally, the wine was also quite light.
2015 Haywagon: This is their unoaked chardonnay. They tasting notes with the wine describe it as having a beeswax taste. This wine was very unusual. It didn’t taste like a chardonnay at all. It was very sweet on the end and had a very strange nose. This was my least favorite wine that I tasted.
2015 PDX Chardonnay: I am normally not one to say that a chardonnay doesn’t have enough oak on it, but I thought this wine could be better if it had more oak. It was a bit tart for a chardonnay, and a little oak would have smoothed it out.
2015 PDX Cabernet Sauvignon: This tasted like drinking grape jelly. It was a bit too jammy for me.
2013 Reserve Leverage: I’ve really enjoyed this wine in past vintages, but I didn’t care for this version. It had lots of pepper on the tongue, but it had something in the taste that I couldn’t put my finger on, but didn’t care for.
PDX Barn Red: This is a sweet red. I think this would be better a bit chilled.
PDX Spiced Red: This wine had a lot of cinnamon on it – too much in my opinion. I would like to try it warm, as it might have been better.
Paradocx Vineyard is Fridays from 12-8, and Saturdays and Sundays from 12-6. They have several other retail locations. Check out their website here for more information.
KREUTZ CREEK VINEYARD
We also visited Kreutz Creek Vineyard for a quick glass of wine before dinner. Check out my previous article about visiting Kreutz Creek.
Visiting the wineries in the area always makes for a great afternoon. Make sure to check these wineries out!
Have questions about wine tasting in Chester County? Do you have a favorite winery or wine? Comment below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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