After a day playing at Sesame Place, it was time for the adults to have some fun, so we ventured only a few mile north to visit Rose Bank Winery. A member of the Bucks County Wine Trail, the winery first opened in 1984 as In & Out Winery. Mike Selesnick owned and operated this venture until 1999, when he decided to retire to Florida. Dave Fleming, a neighboring produce grower, had been thinking about branching out into vineyards, so he purchased the property. This action probably saved the historic farm from development and Fleming renamed the farm after the original William Penn land grant: Rose Bank Farm. In fact, the property resides on a parcel of land originally deeded by William Penn to his daughters. The manor house was built in 1719 and is one of only 25 dressed stone buildings constructed in Bucks County. The existing barn was built in 1835, although Fleming lost half the barn in a fire a few years ago.
When Dave Fleming purchased the winery, he had zero experience growing grapes and wasn't even a wine drinker. Mike Selesnick worked with him for a year, while he learned all aspects of running a winery and vineyard, then remained as a consultant even after relocating to Florida. Mr. Fleming also earned a degree in Enology from U.C. Davis from a correspondence course. Since taking over, the product offerings and quality have increased and Rose Bank Winery was awarded their first Gold medal in the 2008 Keystone Wine Competition for their Mulled Apple wine. The winery and vineyard also follow organic practices, where manure is used for fertilization and nets cover the vineyard.
The tasting facility is located in a new building which also holds both the wine making and fermenting tanks. The winery also hosts weddings inside the tasting room or in the historic barn, depending on the size of the party. During our visit there were over a dozen wines available to sample. To satisfy their market, most of the wines are made semi-sweet or fruit wines, but we started with a few of their dry reds. The De Chaunac is a light bodied wine whereas the Chancellor Royale was fuller with an oakier finish. Both were good, but our favorite was the upcoming 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a full bodied wine - with some oak - and a flavorful, smooth finish.
We really liked their white wines, particularly the Vidal Blanc - the 100% varietal and the Nouvelle. Both are made from estate grown grapes and made semi-dry, the difference is that the grapes in the Nouvelle are pressed almost full cluster - just the stems are removed. We left with a bottle of each of these wines. We also liked their Cayuga - it has perhaps the most flavorful that we had previously sampled. The final white was the sweet Niagara - we loved the wine's aroma - a good representation of the grape. The same holds for their Concord, the best part being that its sweet - but not overly so.
Rose Bank offers several fruit wines, besides the aforementioned Mulled Apple. This wine suits as more for winter, but apparently others prefer it year round. The Cranberry was our favorite - but may not be for everyone because of its tartness. The others were fruitier and there's a fruit for everyone: Blueberry, Blackberry Strawberry, Peach, and Red Raspberry.
We enjoyed our visit and hope to return in the Fall to spend more time at the winery and to explore the Bucks County Wine Trail. The area provides examples of both American history and excellent produce.