Now, keep up to date
with daily feeds of newly posted stories
about America's Seniors...click on the box
Bucks County enticing tourists
to follow the wine trail
may not be Napa Valley, but Bucks County is making a bid to attract a
growing piece of the wine-tourism business.
Bucks County Wine Trail Ltd. was developed to showcase the county's
eight wineries -- the most in any Pennsylvania county, according to the
Bucks Co. Conference & Visitors Bureau Inc.
"What I hope to get out of it is for people to recognize that right in
their back yard are wines they could consume, wines that come with a
guarantee that if you don't like them, you can just walk over to your
neighbor to complain," said Joseph Maxian, owner of Sand Castle Winery
in Erwinna. "Try doing that with a wine from South Africa or Australia."
Starting Sept. 27, the county's tourism bureau will host the food and
wine press for a three-day conference, "Bucks County: Fruits of Our
Labor." The event will include tours, tastings and dinners at wineries,
but also visits to the James A. Michener Art Museum, Mercer Museum,
Pearl S. Buck Historic Site and Peddlers Village shopping center, among
brochure introducing the Bucks County Wine Trail was paid for with a
$5,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic
of the effort is to help a fledgling industry, but it's also to help
ensure that the rapidly developing Bucks County retains the open vistas
that draw visitors and residents alike.
"Wineries are open space and they keep it that way, keep the
agricultural heritage and add a wonderful product. It celebrates the
landscape," said Linda Brinker, assistant director of the Bucks CVB.
"Wine trails are sort of the new strategy for saving open space, from
Missouri to the Pacific Northwest."
Bucks has sought to differentiate parts of the 600-square-mile county
into three tourism districts: the northern, Lake Region; the central
Cultural Region; and the southern Heritage Region.
wineries are based in all three regions.
Bucks County's effort follows those of wine trails around the country.
Such trails have become big business, generating revenue for wineries,
hotels, restaurants and retail operations. Bucks County is not France,
Italy or California. But if regions such as Long Island and Georgia and
Missouri can do it, the Bucks folks argue that modest aspirations are
not pipe dreams.
this case, Bucks County modeled its efforts after the 7-year-old Wine
Trail of Lehigh Valley, which has 10 wineries.
followed their lead, and also looked at New York state, where the wine
trails have signs, directions, maps," said Bucks County Wine Trail
President Jerry Forrest, owner of Buckingham Valley Vineyards in
Buckingham. "For years, we were scratching out directions on the back of
Bucks County's effort will include brochures, lists of wineries and
available wines, a Web site, promotions and special events, including
fall festivals on the second weekend of each month.
Despite a lack of recognition, some of the wineries have been at it for
Forrest was the first, starting out in 1966.
were here before it was fashionable," Forrest said. "We were told you
cannot grow wine grapes here. The [agricultural] agent said you couldn't
do it. Now, we have a following and a clientele," and produce 12,000 to
15,000 cases of wine a year.
Castle Winery's Maxian, a geologist by training, bought his land in 1974
but didn't produce the first bottle of wine until 1988.
me tell you something," he said. "I used to be 170 pounds, and now I'm
over 200, so it's a little better now."
Castle now produces 15,000 cases a year, on average, and this year built
a freestanding winery building.