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Chaddsford aims to ‘demystify’ sweet wines in the Pennsylvania Fruit Belt

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Tuscany, Bordeaux, Rioja, the Gold Coast, the Silverado Trail, the Pennsylvania Fruit Belt. Wait a minute. One of these things just doesn’t belong.

Or does it? While many wine aficionados may be unfamiliar with the Keystone State’s “fruit belt,” its harvests are cultivated for wine as well as table fruits. Chaddsford Winery’s Vice President and General Manager Corey Krejcik said apples largely sourced from the Lake Erie region (also known as the Lake Erie Fruit Belt) produce the winery’s well-respected apple wines.

Winemaker Gabriel Rubilar stands before stainless steel tanks where Chaddsford Winery’s celebrated Spiced Apple Wine is made.

It was a surprise to learn that more sweet wines are sold in the United States each year than dry.

Krejcik said the idea that sweet wines are less credible than dry wines is a misconception.

“Winemakers know this, but many people do not,” he said. “It’s a perception that motivates us at Chaddsford to demystify wines. People should drink what they like … unapologetically.”

This sentiment is at the heart of the Chaddsford Winery’s culture –  “to make approachable, food-friendly wines and share them in a casual, fun environment.”

Talking about sweet wines led me to ask about the impetus for producing Chaddsford’s Spiced Apple Wine, which is one of my favorites and a holiday staple in my home.

 

“Mulled wines have been a European tradition for centuries,” Krejcik said. “We use a proprietary blend of spices when making our Spiced Apple Wine, which is best served warm. It’s perfect for cold weather and holiday cheer.”

Legal-age visitors to Philadelphia’s Wintergarden at Dillworth Park and Tinsel Town in FDR park, among other pop-ups, can enjoy a warm cup of Spiced Apple Wine to-go while shopping.

Chaddsford’s Spiced Apple Wine has been recognized by Food & Wine as a “boozy blend of sweet-and-tart.”

“It’s a great wine,” Krejcik said, “and we have a niche for making it.”

Enter Chaddsford master winemaker, Gabriel Rubilar, who hails from Argentina. Rubilar is hands-on in all ways. (Our interview caught him touching up some paint in the West Tank Room.) Rubilar is ebullient about winemaking, and our conversation transitioned from Spiced Apple Wine to the vineyard’s sparkling line. “We use the Charmat method for adding carbonation to our sparkling wines,” he said, “similar to making Proseccos.”

Charmat is also known as metodo Italiano or, the Martinotti method, after its inventor, Frederico Martinotti, who created the process in 1865 in Asti, Italy. It involves a second fermentation that takes place in a pressurized tank, rather than in a bottle, producing larger, coarser bubbles.

Rubilar explained how this process differs from that of Champagne. “Bubbles are trapped in the wine when sugar and yeast are added during a second fermentation in steel tanks,” Rubilar said. Champagne, on the other hand, is fermented inside individual bottles.

Indigenous to the mid-Atlantic climate and landscape, Chaddsford Winery produces many award-winning regional wines including chardonnays, rosés, pinot noirs, merlots, cabernets, and more, with fruit sourced mostly from local growers throughout Pennsylvania and New York. It’s one of 350 wineries in the state of Pennsylvania.

 

From its beginning, when the Petrillo family partnered with Eric and Lee Miller of New York’s Hudson wine country (the oldest in the country) to open the winery in 1982, the objective was to create “new American classics from old world vinifera grapes,” Krejcik said. Eric Miller’s approach was heavily influenced by his love of Burgundy and he felt instinctively that varieties of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay would thrive in the Brandywine Valley. In 2012, the Millers retired selling their interests back to the Petrillo’s who are the sole owners today.

Chaddsford Winery continues to define itself as a serious Pennsylvania vineyard producing sweet, dry, and sparkling wines – to the tune of 17,000 cases per year. Their products are sold in selected retail locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland and Ohio.

As one of Pennsylvania’s oldest wineries and set in rustic Chester County, Chaddsford hosts a variety of public and private events. Additionally, plans are underway for constructing overnight accommodations for wine-inspired getaways, with work scheduled for completion in 2025.

To learn more about Chaddsford Winery, visit www.chaddsford.com, or call 610-388-6221.

Natalie Pantaleo

Natalie Pantaleo, a resident of Haverford Township, Pa., is a marketing communications consultant, brand strategist, and consummate storyteller. In addition to being a published features writer, Natalie is the author of “Lying Down with Dogs,” a novella globally released by The Awakened Press in September 2022.

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