Wine School of Philadelphia

2007, the First Great Pennsylvania Vintage

Eric really should have told me to take the right infront of the Amish lass picking flowers. She was there everytime I sped past. Eric Miller’s voice, recorded and replayed several times over the feeble speaker on my cellphone, is calmly giving directions to turn right at Mansion street.


After a few more circles through the Brandywine Valley, I manage to accidentally turn up that correct street–Natmensing Road–and drive between an home that looked to be propped up by tall grass and a barn that should have been. I turn up the hill, and am suddenly –potholes be damned– driving into a hilltop vineyard at 40 miles an hour.


Hitting the brakes as the rows of empty vines flicker by, I tuck the car against the deer fence on the top of the hill. Getting out in a juggle of camera, notebook and cellphone, I make a few stumbling steps until I can get my self in order. Calm and professional, I start walking into the nearest row of vines. Within a few steps, I loose my footing again. This time, its not just my inherent clumsiness, it is pure amazement.


Eric, the winemaker & co-owner of Chaddsford Winery, had called me a few days before. There was a possiblity of a ladybug infestation and he had asked me to tag along as he inspected the vines. He was planning to finally harvest his Cabernet Sauvignon in a few days, but such a infestation would mean problems. The bugs –if accidentally harvested with the grapes– would give the wine a nasty swampy smell.

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