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May 29, 2013 06:31 AM

Wine Tasting in Brandywine

I've browsed through a few of the vineyards webpages, but does anyone have any recommendations? Are there any companies that do organized tasting? Hoping to do a wine tasting for a bachlorette party in September for about 10 people.

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  1. The best wine I've had from the area is at Va La Vineyards in Avondale (, There are others, but Va La's wine is way better than the others I've tasted from (Chaddsford Winery, Flickerwood, Stargazers). There are 5-6 more that I have not been to, and they might be fine.

    Va La has a very nice tasting room and I would imagine that they could accommodate your request easily.

    14 Replies
    1. re: travelmad478

      Chadds Ford does have a nice location, but I agree with travelmad that the wine is subpar, is a good site on Brandywine Valley Wine.

      You could also look at Bucks County where vineyards are aplenty as well. New Hope Winery has four different private event rooms that could accomodate you.

      1. re: travelmad478

        +1 on Va La

        I've been on the Brandywine Valley wine tour, which Va La is not part of. Which is probably just as well, because they would just show the others up! Va La is in a completely different league. Their "orange wine" is particularly good. I served it blind to one of my wine snob friends and they guessed it was from Friuli.

        Amazingly, for a PA winery, The Wine Advocate's David Schildknecht included them in his best of 2012 article:

        "Friends helping me locate potentially interesting growers in Pennsylvania (where I grew up) suggested a visit to Va La Vineyards. After some persistence, I received from proprietor Anthony Vietri an odd reply – clearly not meant to be coy or unfriendly – recommending I spare myself the trouble. I'm sure glad I didn't, because the highly unorthodox quintet that issues from two dozen (mostly Italianate) cépages (largely in field blends!) on six acres set just back from the main drag of tiny Avondale (northwest of Wilmington, Delaware) is worth a detour; and Vietri is passionate, experimental, articulate, and focused on vineyard excellence. Whether his orange "white" La Prima Donna; his deep rosé Silk; Cinderbox; Cedar; or Mahogany (the smoky and chocolaty-rich 2010 of which was due to be bottled about now, but won't be released before late this year) these will cause you to lick your lips as you rethink many things you thought you knew."

        They make 5 wines in tiny quantities (for some you are limited to only 2 bottles/family/year), which are only available on site, and expensive ($30-40/bottle).

        They have a lovely restored old barn as a tasting room (a tasting of bread, olive oil, local cheeses and chocolate with 4 wines is a fairly expensive $20, but worth it), which has a large upstairs room and a beautiful deck overlooking the vineyard. Works from their resident artist, who is very talented, hang on the walls (and are bargains). I'm sure it would work for you.

        1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

          I am lucky to live about 10 minutes from Va La and I was really impressed by the quality of the wine the first time I went there--particularly because the other local wineries I've been to are about what you'd expect for Pennsylvania wine. Va La's is way above that league. They have a lot of outdoor events (wood-fired pizza truck, jazz trio) in the warm weather and it's really nice to go there and sit out on their lawn. The website is kind of cryptic, but in a clever way, and the whole thing is well worth checking out.

          1. re: travelmad478

            Yes, the website is hilarious.

            I've been thinking of going to one of their weekend pizza & music events. How crowded do they get? Arrive early? Do they sell their wines by the glass to go with the pizza, or do you buy a bottle? Glasses or plastic cups provided?

            BTW, regarding their tasting room, they use Riedel glasses. Who else in PA does that!

            1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

              Get there early for the pizza, and put your order in ASAP. Then settle back for a substantial wait :-) On a nice day they get a good crowd, and it can be tough/impossible to find a place to sit if you don't show up pretty soon after they open. You can of course bring your own lawn chairs. The whole thing is just very pleasant. One caveat: the Avondale/Hockessin area is the mushroom capital of the universe, and Va La is smack in the middle of some mushroom operations. So there are some days when the air has a certain perfume, if you know what I mean. But it's not oppressive after you've been there for a few minutes.

              I am not sure if they do wines by the glass--I've only bought bottles. Since they are not a bar, my assumption is that they aren't allowed to sell by the glass, but I could be wrong. They will give you glasses to use if you buy a bottle to drink on site, though.

        2. re: travelmad478

          Hey travelmad and PhillyBest -- just wondering if you've ever been to the Galer Estate. It's a relative newcomer to the local wine scene and a low-key operation in that they're not a part of the Brandywine Wine Trail, but they've partnered with Longwood for the Jazz Festival and for a tasting dinner at the 1906 Restaurant. And it's BYOF -- bring your own food. I haven't been there this year, but last year, although they did offer a very small food selection, including freshly baked French bread from the Bakers at Red Lion, right across the road from Galer, guests were encouraged to bring along a picnic, sip some great wine and listen to music out on the deck.

          Maybe I'm partial to Galer because it's right in my neighborhood, but I really do believe it's a hidden gem.

          1. re: CindyJ

            Hi Cindy--I have not been to Galer, nor even heard of it until I read your post from yesterday. It sounds interesting and I'm sure the setting is beautiful. Their website doesn't list any events--do they have a mailing list or something? I am on Va La's list so I keep getting reminded about them.

            1. re: travelmad478

              I'm not on Facebook, but it's my understanding that their events are listed on their Facebook page. At least, that's what I was told last year when I asked if they had a mailing list.

              I'm not surprised that you hadn't heard of Galer. I don't think I've ever seen any advertising for them. I pass right by there most days of the week, but it wasn't until I spotted their "OPEN" banner one day last year, that I became curious about what was going on there. We went to the wine-pairing dinner event that they hosted at Longwood last summer and were blown away by their wines. In fact, I JUST looked at Longwood's website and saw that Galer is having another wine dinner there on July 12. I'll be there!

              Before the Galers bought the property there was another winery there -- Folly Hill Vineyards -- which may have been part of the Brandywine Wine Trail. But the Galers have transformed the property and the business, ripping out old vines, planting new ones, and producing truly noteworthy wines. Last summer they had live music most weekend evenings, and, judging from the number of cars in their parking lot, it's become a popular hangout.

              They're not open every day, so do check their schedule if you decide to check them out. And if you do, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts.

              1. re: CindyJ

                Ha. I'm not on FB either but I created a page for my dog just so I could look at stuff like this. Will check it now!

                We are home on July 12 and are members of Longwood, so I will ask Mr. travelmad478 if he wants to go to this. It sounds great. If we end up going I'll let you know!

                1. re: travelmad478

                  Definitely let me know. I just bought our tickets. Last year it was a sell-out event.

                  1. re: CindyJ

                    Tickets are bought! See you there! We'll have to figure a way to meet up--you can e-mail me at my CH username at Yahoo.

                    1. re: travelmad478

                      Will do! Interestingly enough, I just saw this article in this week's Kennett Paper:

                      1. re: CindyJ

                        Looking forward to this Friday's dinner--e-mail me if you would like to meet up!

                        1. re: travelmad478

                          I emailed you -- and JUST saw this. I'm also looking forward to tomorrow.

        3. While not in Brandywine - Tastings and Tours can provide exactly what you are looking for. I've done the Bucks County tour and it was a great time. They handle a ton of bachlorette parties. You can choose from Bucks County, Lehigh Valley and Cape May.

          1. I would highly recommend the Galer Estate, located in a beautiful setting adjacent to Longwood Gardens. They have a wine tasting room and a deck that overlooks their vineyard, and their wines are wonderful (although a bit pricey).

            1. We were just there in feb (just me and my husband) and I think you will have fun no matter where u go. There are def some wines that are better than others but... You will be on a Bach party so maybe the quality may not be as important as you go further along the trail. One thing I would do is though is call each winery first to see if they accept large parties unannounced or if you need to reserve a spot. Some of the wineries definitely do not look that favorably upon large groups at once (prob some of the ones not listed on the wine trail guide). I guess there are often college kids from west Chester that like to do it sometimes. Just telling you what I heard from a few that we visited! Have fun. Cape may is also a fun place to do a wine tasting tour but there's not that many down there.

              1. VaLa is a nice operation. I've often thought it would be a nice place for a soiree. The wine is pricey but is good stuff. Amazing for southern Chester county.