Talent, timing and terroir come together to form a new industry in Pennsylvania

Eric Miller tells the story of how his father taught him the meaning of terroir when driving through the countryside of Burgundy, France.Derived the French word for land, terre, terroir means the combination of geography, soil and climate as relates to produce such as grapes.

The word wine and the name Pennsylvania were seldom used in the same sentence 30 years ago. After starting the Chaddsford Winery, Lee Miller described the location of the winery as “Upland Atlantic” rather than Pennsylvania. In picture below she shows a map they used which shows bountiful vineyard somewhere between New York and Washington DC

 

Lee and Eric Miller told their story of developing an industry in the state of Pennsylvania to a crowd gathered at the Chadds Ford Historical Society Tuesday Evening. Although Pennsylvania had many wineries in the time of William Penn, few survived the imposition of prohibition in 1919.

Starting a business the mantra is location, location, location. The Millers needed the confluence of a location that would support the growth of delicate varietals of grapes and a location that would support robust marketing.

Eric studied the soil, geography and climate of South Eastern Pennsylvania, and thought the area had the potential to grow the grapes he wanted to make wine. He learned winemaking from his father who owned the Benmarl winery in Marlboro, New York, in the Hudson River Valley.

Lee studied tourism in the area and picked a spot exactly between Longwood Gardens and Brandywine River Museum. She figured that no matter how good the wine, people had to know about it. The wine and the winery had to be in a high traffic area not nestled somewhere in the countryside.

Lee’s expertise in marketing came from her years as an author and founder of Wine East magazine. Starting a business has its challenges. Starting an industry takes energy and imagination. The early years of the winery, marketing took the form of attracting people to an entertainment venue. Then the Chaddsford Winery expanded to locations in Center City Philadelphia, Peddler’s Village and area malls.

After years of hard work, other wineries appeared in the area, grafting their aspirations on the deepening roots of the Chaddsford Winery. The Brandywine Wine Trail is a collaboration of six wineries as a tourist destination.

Both Millers express frustration with the limits of Pennsylvania laws regarding wine production. Although Pennsylvania beat New York to the legislative starting line implementing a law enabling sales of wine directly to customers at the winery itself. Pennsylvania lags behind New York now because its laws have not changed. Pennsylvania only allows a winery to produce 200,000 gallons per year.

Lee and Eric used their respective talents to write a book, “The Vintner’s Apprentice” which was published in 2011. Here Eric is signing a book for Janet and Paul Haldeman. David Poston is in line for the next book.

Eric is encouraged by the ‘Buy Fresh, Buy Local’ trend in food and sees Chaddsford wines as a part of that local cuisine. When ask what will become of the winery, will any of his children take it over? Eric said that two of his children are engineers and too smart to become wine makers. One is having too much fun in London. The fourth son is actually a winemaker in California and makes more money that Lee and Eric together. The answer to the question of succession, however, is that there is a partner who is becoming more active in the Chaddsford Winery, and the future is in good hands. Clearly, Lee and Eric love what they do.

Eric Miller tells the story of how his father taught him the meaning of terroir when driving the the countryside of Burgundy France. Derived the French word for land, terre, terroir means the combination of geography, soil and climate as relates to produce such as grapes.

The word wine and the name Pennsylvania were seldom used in the same sentence thirty years ago. After starting the Chaddsford Winery, Lee Miller described the location of the Winery as “Upland Atlantic” rather than Pennsylvania. In this picture she shows a map they used which shows bountiful vineyard somewhere between New York and Washington DC.

Lee and Eric Miller told their story of developing an industry in the State of Pennsylvania to a crowd gathered at the Chadds Ford Historical Society Tuesday Evening. Although Pennsylvania had many wineries in the time of William Penn, few survived the imposition of prohibition in 1919.

Starting a business the mantra is location, location, location. The Millers needed the confluence of a location that would support the growth of delicate varietals of grapes and a location that would support robust marketing.

Eric studied the soil, geography and climate of south eastern Pennsylvania, and thought the area had the potential to grow the grapes he wanted to make wine. He learned winemaking from his father who owned the Benmarl winery in Marlboro, New York, in the Hudson River Valley.

Lee studied tourism in ther area and picked a spot exactly between Longwood Gardens and Brandywine River Museum. She figured that no matter how good the wine, people had to know about it. The wine and the winery had to be in a high traffic area not nestled somewhere in the countryside.

Lee’s expertise in marketing came from her years as an author and founder of Wine East magazine. Starting a business has its challenges. Starting an industry takes energy and imagination. The early years of the winery, marketing took the form of attracting people to an entertainment venue. Then the Chaddsford Winery expanded to locations in Center City Philadelphia, Peddler’s Village and area malls.

After years of hard work, other wineries appeared in the area, grafting their aspirations on the deepening roots of the Chaddsford Winery. The Brandywine Wine Trail is a collaboration of six wineries as a tourist destination.

Both Millers express frustration with the limits of Pennsylvania laws regarding wine production. Although Pennsylvania beat New York to the legislative starting line implementing a law enabling sales of wine directly to customers at the winery itself. Pennsylvania lags behind New York now because its laws have not changed. Pennsylvania only allows a winery to produce 200,000 gallons per year.

Lee and Eric used their respective talents to write a book, “The Vintner’s Apprentice” which was published in 2011. Below Eric is signing a book for Janet and Paul Haldeman. David Poston is in line for the next book.

 

Eric is encouraged by the ‘Buy Fresh, Buy Local’ trend in food and sees Chaddsford wines as a part of that local cuisine. When ask what will become of the winery, will any of his children take it over? Eric said that two of his children are engineers and too smart to become wine makers. One is having too much fun in London. The fourth son is actually a winemaker in California and makes more money that Lee and Eric together. The answer to the question of succession, however, is that there is a partner who is becoming more active in the Chaddsford Winery, and the future is in good hands. After 30 years, Lee and Eric still love wine making and telling their story.

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About Emily Myers

Emily Myers has lived and worked in Chadds Ford for over thirty years.  She founded the parent company of Chadds Ford Live, Decision Design Research, Inc., in 1982.  ChaddsFordLive.com represents the confluence of Myers' long time, deep involvement in technology and community. Myers was a founding member of the Chadds Ford Business Association and currently serves on its board of directors.  Her hobbies include bridge, golf, photography and Tai Chi. She lives with her husband, Jim Lebedda, in Chadds Ford Township.

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