Friday, May 25, 2012

Brookmere Alexander Red NV (PA)

Brookmere Farms 138 acres of rolling tillable landscape was a part of a large land grant from William Penn to the Alexander Family. This property remained with the descendants of the clan until the 1960's when a Wall Street broker, Charles Rodarmor (Business address 1 Wall St.) acquired it from his three children. They had inherited it from their recently deceased mother, Virginia Haughwout Rodarmor, wife of Charles. Some of the Haughwouts still reside in what is commonly known as "Big Valley", and run a large dairy farming operation in Alexander Springs which is adjacent to Brookmere Farm.

After the civil war, James Alexander built the southern mansion type farmhouse with a federalist front as an intended wedding present for his bride to be. The bricks used in construction were sun baked and made in the back yard of the property. As the story goes, before he could finish the project, his intended took off with another suitor. Consequently the inside of the home was never finished i.e. cherry stair treads with no bannister, minimal plumbing, no formal kitchen, etc. The Reverend Leffard Haughwout lived there for a while as did a number of tenant farmers who lived in half of the house. After Charles Rodarmor acquired the farm, the family used it as sort of a getaway house and rented the land to local farmers. It became a repository of antiques of all types, and became an unkempt mess with wisteria growing up through the slate roof and the porches were rotting off. In the late sixties and early seventies one of the Rodarmor children and friends used it as a place to make music and "party" and thus it took on the "Hippie House" handle.

In 1973 Donald and Susan Chapman who hail from Connecticut had been living in the Milroy area since 1966, when Don brought the domestic tool business of the Collins Company of Collinsville, Connecticut, to nearby Lewistown and became a principle in the Mann Edge Tool Company there. They had been looking to buy a farm and came upon the run-down Brookmere mansion. After numerous communiqu├ęs (spanning over a year) with Mr. Rodarmor, he suddenly asked for a $5000 deposit on a $125,000 price tag for the farm. The Chapman's swallowed hard and jumped (that was a lot of money at the time) and they consummated the deal in November of 1974. They moved in...scarey...bats, that first night it snowed, bad noises, snow on the bed in the morning...needless to say, they resurrected the mansion over the next seven years.

After 16 years in the tool business, Don thought that he would like to do something a little more healthful, thus began their affair with the grapes. Starting with an aborted effort to purchase a Lewistown Winery and enough knowledge to be dangerous, he converted his 1866 PA bank barn into a sales room and wine making facility and in 1981 planted three acres of grapes. The grape varieties are primarily French Hybrids i.e. Vidal, Seyval, Chelois, DeChaunac, Chambourcin with a few Vinifera varieties, Carmine, Chardonel, and Bianco. Although the soils are very good, the humid climates and cold weather limit the varieties that will thrive here. However, the grapes and fruit that round out Brookmere's menu are available from vineyards in other areas of Pennsylvania.

After 23 years in business, Don and Susan sold the business to Ed and Cheryl Glick. Cheryl was an employee for the Chapmans for 12 years prior to purchasing the business with her husband Ed, who was a former dairy farmer for 18 years. When a business opportunity arose, they decided to take a new adventure. Ed learned the wine making trade as he worked for the Chapmans. After 7 years the Glicks purchased the winery. Ed and Cheryl still maintain the same high standards of wine making as the Chapmans did with their friendly knowledgeable staff-Carolyn, Amanda, and daughter Alisha. With the help of their staff, the Glicks have a lot of changes going on for 2008. The 1866 Mansion will become a warm and inviting Bed and Breakfast. A pavilion is being built in the Vineyard to host weddings, receptions, and special events. Also, they plan to hold wine and Music festivals during the spring, summer, and fall months. Keep checking our website for updates.

I recently tried the Brookmere Alexander Red. This was a blend of Cabernet Franc and Chambourcin aged in oak. This is a non-vintage wine. An as a table wine it is among the better red table wines available on the market from an East Coast winery. Big flavors of ripe cherry and raspberry burst from the glass, with himts of mocha, and a hint of plum, and some spices. A nice dry finish. Nice acids, with a bit of tannin in the back. A delicious, fantastic blend. An excellent wine!

Borrowed a photo fromt The Culinary Couple who visited the farm in's their post: