Food Drink

12 Brandywine Valley Wineries Perfect for Weekend Exploring

Photos by Jim Graham

After 40 years, the Brandywine Valley wine industry continues to reinvent itself with new wineries and new generations.

In 1982, Lee and Eric Miller founded Chaddsford Winery and began crafting their vintages from purchased grapes in an old barn along Route 1, a few miles up in the hills west of Brandywine Creek. The Millers have since retired, but the first winery in the Brandywine region is still producing, and its tasting room remains a popular destination.

In many ways, Chaddsford’s history is indicative of what’s happened to the wine industry as a whole around our region. Though several of the pioneers have moved on over the past 20 years, local wineries have renewed and reninvented themselves. No longer an oddity, their tasting rooms are selling reliably good wines at reasonable prices while providing weekend entertainment and event space.

Twenty years ago, the local wine trail consisted of eight stops. In addition to Chaddsford, there was Smithbridge, Twin Brook, Stargazers, Va La, Folly Hill, Paradocx and Kreutz Creek. Except for Twin Brook, the other seven wineries are still in operation—not a small accomplishment. But only Va La and Paradocx have retained their original owner/operators, and only four still have their original names. Smithbridge is now Penns Woods, Folly Hill is now Galer, and Kreutz Creek has become Acadian.

Five new wineries have been founded in those 20 years—Patone and Grace in 2008, Wayvine in 2010, Vox Vineti in 2012, and 1723 in 2014. In total, there are a dozen wineries in the Brandywine region that actually make wine locally, from fermenting the grapes to bottling the wines. Only a handful of those wines have drawn praise from national wine critics, even if the overall quality is on a par with everyday wines from around the world.

Not that there aren’t issues debated among the winery owners. Should wines be made only from local grapes, or does the source of the grapes matter if the grapes are fermented locally? Should wineries try to accommodate all tastes by making sweet table wines, largely ignored in great winemaking regions? Or should they only offer dry table wines, perhaps adding dessert varieties like port? Most local wineries emphasize using European grape varieties, as all great wine regions do, while some also produce hybrid varietals and those from more pungent native American grapes.

Keeping all of that in mind, we offer a rundown of the 12 Brandywine Valley wineries.

1723 Vineyards

1723 Vineyards’ Sarah and Ben Cody with daughter Payte.

Owners Sarah and Ben Cody are fifth-generation farmers from the Midwest who have a passion for great wines and working with their hands. In 2014, they purchased 36 acres of the historic McMaster Farm and began producing wine four years later. Ben tends the eight acres of vines, while Gabriel Rubilar (also a winemaker at Chaddsford) consults on winemaking. “We’ve made a number of adaptations to optimize our wine quality,” Ben says. “In some cases, this was switching to cultivars and trellising systems that better suited our site. At this stage, we actually feel like it’s more about fine-tuning than major changes.” 5 McMaster Blvd., Landenberg, Pennsylvania, (888) 330-0526, 1723vineyards.com.

Sarah and Ben Cody in their winemaking facility.

Acadian Wine Company

Acadian Wine Company’s Kyle Jones.

Kreutz Creek was 20 years old when owners Jim and Carole Kirkpatrick retired in 2022. A few months later, new owner and Pennsylvania-trained winemaker Kyle Jones opened Acadian Wine Company with a new tasting room and his own vintages. “Currently, there are eight acres of established trellises, three of which contain original plantings from the mid ’90s,” Jones says. “The other five are in transition and will be replanted. We’re also fortunate to have roughly 10 more acres of cropland adjacent to our current blocks that can serve as future vineyards.” 553 S. Guernsey Road, West Grove, Pennsylvania, (302) 256-9788, acadianwinecompany.com.

Jones makes the perfect pour.

The vineyards at Acadian Wine Company.

Chaddsford Winery

Without its own vineyards, Chaddsford buys grapes from growers in Pennsylvania, Maryland and New York, annually producing about 18,000 to 20,000 cases under the direction of winemaker Gabriel Rubilar, a native of Argentina. Though it went all sweet briefly after the Millers’ departure, the winery offers a balance of dry and sweet wines. “We have intentionally recalibrated the customer experience,” says Chaddsford GM Cory Krejcik. “We’ve reduced the number of festival weekends and are focusing on more intimate, experience-driven tasting programs like reservation-based table service, seasonal wine flights and reserve tastings.” 632 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, (610) 388-6221, chaddsford.com.

Galer Estate Winery & Vineyard

Galer was founded in 2002 as Folly Hill. Brad and Lele Galer purchased the winery and vineyard in 2008 from founders Glen and Sherry Sowers, re-opening in 2011 after extensive renovations. The winery has a large and loyal customer base that flocks to its tasting room for winemaker Virginia Mitchell’s offerings made from locally purchased grapes and those from Galer’s four-acre vineyard. Though the winery has been a success, it’s currently up for sale through Sotheby’s. “We expect to sell to someone who will continue the beautiful property as a winery,” says Lele. “Brad and I both turned 61 this year and are ready for the next phase of our lives together.” 700 Folly Hill Road, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, (484) 899-8013, galerestate.com.

Grace Winery

After taking over what was then Sweetwater Farm B&B after the death of his sister Grace in 1999, Chris LeVine transformed the historic 1740s malting barn and created a state-of-the-art winery complete with catering and event space, planting an eight-acre vineyard with Andrew Yingst as winemaker. LeVine and his wife, Vicki, also manage the property’s inn, its kitchen presided over by chef Dan Wood. 50 Sweetwater Road, Glen Mills, (610) 459-4711, gracewinery.com.

Paradocx Vineyard

After first establishing a commercial vineyard that grew to 30 acres, the Harris and Hoffmann families opened Paradocx Vineyard in 2002. It’s since become one of the area’s largest local wineries and entertainment venues, and one of the few open every day except Monday. David Hoffman serves as winemaker, buying grapes locally and from Maryland while the estate vineyard is under reconstruction. 1833 Flint Hill Road, Landenberg, Pennsylvania, (610) 255-5684, paradocx.com.

Patone Cellars

Opened in 2008, Patone has been an under-the-radar winery, with owner/winemaker Mario Patone crafting nice wines from locally purchased grapes. 1051 Wickerton Road, Landenberg, Pennsylvania, (302) 545-7388, patonecellars.com.

Penns Woods Winery

Harvesting grapes at Penns Woods Winery

In 2001, Italian winemaker and importer Gino Razzi took over the struggling Smithbridge winery and later brought in the second generation, daughter Carley. Renaming it Penns Woods, the two have made the winery into a success story with the assistance of Italian winemaker Davide Creato. Of its 45 acres of estate vineyards, 30 are in two separate Coatesville sites, and Penns Woods occasionally purchases additional grapes grown regionally. “On the weekends, we host a variety of events from food and wine pairings to live music and workshops when the weather allows,” Carley says, “We have over 1,000 wine club members, so we often host events to allow members to mix, mingle and enjoy our wines together.” 124 Beaver Valley Road, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, (610) 459-0808, pennswoodswinery.com.

Its inviting grounds

Penns Woods owner Gino Razzi strolls the vineyard with daughter Carley.

Stargazers Vineyard

Original Stargazers owners Alice and John Weygandt turned over the keys to Jason Kirkpatrick and Michael Vorauer in 2020. The two retained the name, and Vorauer took over winemaking duties. For the past two years, Stargazers has produced wine from its 12 acres of vineyards, creating a Vintners Reserve series to broaden the Stargazers portfolio. “We’ve added more seating and a more open environment,” Kirkpatrick says. “It’s great for spending an afternoon with friends and family.” 1024 Wheatland Drive, Coatesville, Pennsylvania, (610) 486-0422, stargazersvineyard.com.

Va La Vineyards

Va La Vineyards’ Anthony Vietri at work.

Anthony Vietri is the longest serving winery owner and winemaker in the region. Since 1999, he’s grown Va La into an ultra-premium winery producing about 500-800 cases annually from the farm’s eight-acre vineyard. Vietri expects to add about 4,800 new vines to production in the next two years. “For 25 years, we’ve conducted R&D devoted to selecting the varieties that make up the field blends of our four wines, a process that continually changes and is a constant evolution,” Vietri says. “We’ve devoted a great deal of effort toward creating our Nebbiolo clonal and massal selections.” 8820 Gap Newport Pike, Avondale, Pennsylvania, (610) 268-2702, valavineyards.com.

Anthony Vietri with the fruits of his labor.

Vox Vineti

Along with Va La, Vox Vineti aims to set a high bar in the quality of the few wines it makes annually from its six-acre hillside vineyards. Founded in 2012 by Ed and Adrienne Lazzerini, Vox Vineti is open weekends for tastings; reservations are recommended. 49 Sproul Road, Christiana, Pennsylvania, voxvineti.com.

Wayvine Winery & Vineyard

Zachary and James Wilson founded Wayvine in 2010, subdividing 10 acres of the 260-acre family farm to start growing grapes. The industrious pair now has 18 acres of vines. “We’re 100% estate and only use our fruit in our wines,” says James. Wayvine also owns Tulip Pasta, an eatery in Philadelphia’s Fishtown section that’s a tasting room as well. 4374 Forge Road, Nottingham, Pennsylvania, (610) 620-5261, wayvine.wine.

Roger Morris

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