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Meet the Winemaker: Buckingham Valley Vineyards
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO HAVE YOUR WINERY IN BUCKS COUNTY?
In the early 60s, when Kathy and I were at the University of Pennsylvania, we had friends from Jamison. We frequently visited Bucks County to dine at some great restaurants and canoe on the Delaware Canal. When we decided to follow our dream to start a vineyard and winery, Bucks County was the natural choice. Bucks had everything we dreamed of: fertile, affordable farm land (at that time as little as $500 an acre), proximity to New York and Philadelphia, and as they said, "A good place to live, worship and work." In 1966, we purchased five acres of Buckingham; then five more, ten more and 20 more acres, all contiguous. Our love of all that Bucks County had to offer has not diminished.
DESCRIBE YOUR WINEMAKING PROCESS.
Our winemaking process is unique in that we are one of the most automated, technologically advanced and equipped small wineries in the country. Our mechanical harvesting, automated processing and high speed bottling allow us to make consistently high quality wine. We still use many traditional methods, but with greater control.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE WINEMAKING BUSINESS?
My history and background well-prepared me for a life in the alcoholic beverage business. My grandfather was a bootlegger. I started making wine when I was about 12. Since that opportunity was somewhat limited, not to mention unlawful, my family insisted that I get a more rounded education. I earned a B.S. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School, and attended the University of Maryland Law School. Jobs at General Electric and General Foods eventually led to Bucks County and employment as Advertising Director of the Bucks County Courier Times, a job I held for 14 years as we worked to develop our winery and vineyard.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE PLACES IN BUCKS COUNTY?
We love to tour the back country roads of upper Bucks County in our convertible. We dine mostly at BYOB restaurants in Central Bucks. Our favorites are: Luigi's in Warrington, Perfect Taste in Buckingham, and Villagio's in Lahaska.
DO YOU HAVE ANY FUTURE PLANS FOR THE VINEYARD?
To me, happiness is a journey, not a destination. We plan to expand our vineyard acreage, as well as re-plant some existing vineyards to new varieties. Our current technology, production methods and equipment are constantly improving. I love new "toys." Our current emphasis is on expanding our sparkling wine, or "Champagne," production. As the only Bucks County winery making sparkling wine, we see great growth potential.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT MAKING WINE?
My favorite part about making wine is the freedom and flexibility it allows. This is a family business with three generations and many friends involved. Being able to share the fruits of our lifelong dream with others is very satisfying.
DO YOU HAVE A RECIPE YOU'RE WILLING TO SHARE?
We had so many recipes to share that we published a cookbook, "Cooking with Wine," authored by Sir John Pearse, an English author and entertainer. We also produced a series of five minute PBS TV shows based on the book. The series was shown in more than 80 markets worldwide.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE WINE AND FOOD PAIRING?
Our suggestion for a favorite wine/food pairing is: any wine you like with any food you enjoy. Red wine with meat and white with fish or white chilled and red at room temperature are no longer the rule. The fact is, each person is the expert on what they like and how they want enjoy it. Don't let anyone tell you what you like.