By AML Publisher
Photography courtesy of April Ziegler Photography
In 1967, Susan Gross was working as a chemist, rubbing elbows with horticulturists and thinking about her next career move. A country winery was not on her radar. But, before she knew it, Gross was a proud owner of a bare stretch of cornfield in quaint Chalfont, Pennsylvania. She had never been on a tractor in her life. As many first time entrepreneurs do, Gross went with a gut feeling-experimented with her new piece of property and planted three acres of wine grapes along with a large experimental plot of hybrids from France and Germany.
Seventeen years later, Peace Valley Winery opened (in 1984) with Robert Kolmus as a partner. Today, Peace Valley is a quaint, country winery in the heart of Bucks County farmland with over twenty acres dedicated to over two dozen varieties of grapes. “Our philosophy is one of a laidback approach. We are certainly not wine snobs out here at Peace Valley. We are a working farm and small town vineyard, and our loyal customers prefer us to the state store brands-because we have great wines and they can support a local business” Gross explained.
Each season there seems to be something on the harvest for wine lovers to enjoy at Peace Valley. In the spring, Peace Valley rolls out their well known Spring Fling, based on the German style of spring wines that have a secondary form of fermentation or additional ‘spritz.’ It’s flavored with an herb called woodruff, with its sprigs used to sweeten the batch. Gross serves Spring Fling in a punch bowl at the winery (for lucky guests) and adds frozen strawberries to the mix to keep the wine cold and refreshing-while allowing the strawberries to release their natural flavors.
Starting June 5th through the 7th, Peace Valley will release their Summer Solstice wine, one of their most popular in their selection. “It’s sweet and fruity and comes in a very attractive blue bottle. So many people anticipate the release of our Summer Solstice to put aside as a great holiday gift. It has wide appeal,” explained Gross. And, in the fall, Peace Valley offers a ‘pick your own’ event where visitors can select their own grapes in the sprawling fields. For families, the property is also home to several acres of dwarf apple trees which bring in large crowds come harvest time.
Gross is proud of the selection and quality of her wines that keeps regulars coming back, part of a loyal family of local fans and vineyard enthusiasts. “We have a very interesting and wide selection of wines. Our chardonnay is one of our most popular, it’s a Chablis style that has been fermented in very cold temperatures and is very light with lots of fruit flavors and very little oak. It sets us apart from other chardonnays,” explained Gross.
The cozy winery sits high on a hidden hilltop overlooking Peace Valley Park. Besides a stop at Peace Valley, which offers a satisfying daycation for suburbanites, this pristine pocket of Bucks County countryside is packed with other must-sees. Down the road from the winery is a lush lavender farm, a bike trail, a 365-acre lake where people can sail or take an eight-mile hike, a quaint country farm market and the historic Pearl Buck House. “It’s really quite a day trip to come out this way! So many of our first time guests are so pleasantly surprised when they see what is here in this region of Chalfont-it really is ‘God’s country,’” said Gross.
Part of the great appeal of Peace Valley is the resident feline, Moe. Moe’s adventures in and around the winery are well-known by regulars and documented in monthly e-newsletters. Through the years, his squabbles with winery visitors (other cats, an opossum or two) have done their damage on his battle-worn ears. “Everyone always wants to know what Moe is up to! He is quite the cat and came to us with two brothers from a stray that was hanging around. Moe is a survivor-he had two brothers, Manny and Jack, who have since passed. Moe seems to have a certain je ne sais quoi that draws people in,” explained Gross.
Peace Valley will also be one of the thirty plus Pennsylvania wineries participating in the 19th annual PA Wine and Food Festival coming up on June 13th and 14th at Split Rock Lodge in the Poconos. For wine lovers across the tri-state region, it’s a golden opportunity to conveniently sample some of the best wines the state has to offer. “We have been a loyal part of the festival since its inception and would not miss it for the world! There is nothing else like it for wine enthusiasts across the state of Pennsylvania. Instead of traveling hundreds of miles to visit and sample all of the amazing wines that these vineyards offer, wine lovers can spend the weekend at Split Rock and have them all in one convenient location. There’s a great sense of camaraderie among the industry as well, so for us as a small vineyard, it’s a reunion of sorts with all of our Pennsylvania vineyard friends,” enthused Gross.
Great Tastes of Pennsylvania Wine and Food Festival
When: Saturday & Sunday, June 13th & 14th 12pm-6pm
Event Details: Thirty-six wineries across the state will be on hand providing educational seminars throughout the weekend. The festival will feature continuous musical entertainment on three separate stages, Pennsylvania’s finest wineries and a wide selection of food vendors to tempt your taste buds. Split Rock also offers a weekend package for our overnight guests. Each Festival attendee will receive a commemorative wine tasting glass, and you must be over 21 to be served. Pets are not allowed on festival grounds.
Cost: Advance Tickets $25/Group (25+) $22/Day of Festival $29Attendees Under 21 $6/Children 2 and Under are Free
For more information on the festival or for reservations, call 800-255-7625 or log on to www.splitrockresort.com
Peace Valley Winery will be exhibiting at the 2009 PA Wine and Food Festival. Their winery is located at 300 Old Limekiln Road, in Chalfont, PA. If you are interested in tour information or contacting Peace Valley Winery, call 215-249-9058, email email@example.com, or visit their website at: www.peacevalleywinery.com.
Peace Valley Winery is less than an hour drive from the heart of the Main Line, approximately sixteen miles off the 309 exit from the PA Turnpike.
Hours of operation are: Wed-Fri & Sun 12-6pm, Sat 10-6pm