A Successful First Year for the Brandywine Food and Wine Festival

The sun was shining and the delectable waft of wood-fired pizzas being baked out of Forno Inferno’s mobile pizza shop filled the grounds. Ice cream was being scooped. Almost 20 craft vendors sold their elaborate jewelry, handcrafted soaps and oil paintings. Bands played their favorite covers for their picnic audience. Wine was poured. Lots of wine was poured.

This was the scene at the First Annual Brandywine Food and Wine Festival presented by The Brandywine Valley Wine Trail on Saturday, June 9 at the rolling hills of the Myrick Conservation Center. Over 1,800 attendees sampled foods from 14 vendors and tasted wines from 15 wineries across the state.  Many of the winemakers have a passion for their pets and proceeds from the silent and live auctions, a total of $1,310, went toward the Chester County SPCA.

This idea for a festival was been fermenting amongst the wine trail members – Black Walnut Winery, Borderland Vineyard, Chaddsford Winery, Kreutz Creek Vineyard, Paradocx Vineyard, Penns Woods Winery, Patone Cellars, and Twin Brook Winery – for years now. The wine trail members invited wineries from the five surrounding counties and were joined by Allegro Vineyards, Flickerwood Cellars, Galer Estate Vineyard, Grace Winery, Karamoor Estate Winery, Kog Hill Winery and Peace Valley Winery for the day.

Compliments from visitors were pouring in as often as the wine, throughout the afternoon I heard “this is hands-down the best wine in PA,” “this wine is fantastic,” and “I had no idea Pennsylvania had this many wineries.” The festival offered a down-to-earth opportunity to dive into the complex world of wines, speaking directly to the winemakers and wine educator Vino Vic, without the pretentious attitude that is prevalent in the wine world.

After weaving my way through the state’s best wineries, these were my notable picks for the day:

Best Red

Penn Woods Winery’s 2007 Proprietor’s Reserve Red. This award-winning wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. First, you taste the dark fruits of the Merlot, followed by a long and full burst of flavors in the finish.

Best White

Twin Brook Winery’s 2009 Naked Chardonnay. There were many Chardonnays poured on Saturday, some were super acidic, some were too dry, while others too sweet, but Twin Brook Winery’s Chard was just right with hints of citrus fruits and a clean finish. Twin Brook brought a special treat for guests, an oaked version of their Chardonnay to pair with their unoaked Naked Chardonnay.

Best Dessert

Black Walnut Winery’s 2008 More Than M. There are some ports out there that are chalky, heavy, and you can only take one sip before you want to put it down, More Than M is the total opposite. This port-style wine is made from 100 percent Merlot Grapes, infused with unoaked Brandy, and is deceptively smooth with an 18 percent alcohol content.

Best Bites

Skip the hot dog and hum drum hamburger, summer isn’t officially here until I sink my teeth into a crab cake and Oxford-based Muse’s crabcake sandwich fueled that craving. This sandwich offered a sweet medley of flavors; the Chesapeake style crab cake was topped with a jalapeno-agave remoulade, lettuce, and tomato and placed inside a light, heavenly brioche bun.

“I was thrilled with the event!,” said Karen Cline, Brandywine Valley Wine Trail Administrator.    “My favorite part was seeing people enjoy themselves.  The whole day was really a relaxing time spent in terrific weather!  We definitely plan on having this event again next year and we’re working on setting the date.  As soon as we have the date, it will be posted on pawinefestival.com.”

Don’t want to wait until next June to enjoy a fantastic wine-infused festival? The next big events for the wine trail include The 7th Annual Brandywine “Big Bang” BBQ on June 30 & July 1 and the 10th Annual Harvest Festival on September 29, September 30, and October 6. In addition, each winery is hosting a plethora of events such as  jazz nights, summer concerts, yoga in the vineyard and more. In case you can’t wait that long to explore local wines, grab a Brandywine Valley Wine Trail Map and taste what our backyard wineries have to offer!

All photographs credited to Allison Benford, Bonsai Doll Fern Photography. View more scenes by clicking here.