All Roads Lead to Virginia

Marguerite Barrett
Contributing Writer

To be honest, Gretchen, I hadn’t even started thinking about my route yet.  But since you’ve asked…

Like you I have a couple of different options, both of which hover around 9 hours of driving time (that’s NOT counting New York/New Jersey/DC traffic) – definitely do-able in a single day, but I will likely split up the drive both days for some stops along the way.

The first and most direct route is I-95 which, after skirting Manhattan, will take me down through Jersey, past Philadephia,  through “Baltimore and DC now” (hmm… are you hearing Martha and the Vandellas, too – “don’t forget the Motor City…”  Oh wait, that’s the previous weekend), and then a quick jog west to Charlottesville.

This route takes me through the southern New Jersey wine country which is home to 17 wineries in the area south and east of Philly, four of which appear close to I-95 according to the Garden State Winegrowers Association map.

 

The alternate route bypasses Philadelphia and DC, cutting west across New Jersey on I78 to Pennsyvlania and then picking up I81 to head south into Charlottesville.   The attraction to this route (other than missing the Jersey and DC traffic)?  Gettysburg.  Not only have I never visited the battlefield, but what better tie in with the War and Wine series I hope to kick off with this trip?   And there are also two wineries in close proximity to the park.

I still need to build out an actual itinerary, but right now I’m trending towards the I78/I81 route on the way down with a stop in Gettysburg the first day to visit the local wineries as well as the park.  The park itself is open until 10 pm, so if I time it right, I should be able to make it to the area in time for lunch, visit the wineries and then make my way over to the park before the visitor’s center and museum closes and still have some time to drive around the battlefield in the evening.  The next morning would then be a leisurely 3-hour drive to Charlottesville.

Then I’m thinking it’s the I95 route home; hopefully if I leave early enough I’d miss the worst of the DC traffic.   My thoughts right now are to stop outside of Philly, spend the afternoon touring some of southern Jersey’s local wineries, then dinner and a relaxing evening in Philadelphia, before heading home the next morning.

Those are pretty full agendas, so I need to do some work on the itineraries – this is supposed to be a vacation after all, not an endurance test!

 

Better Know an AVA: Riegelsville, PA (Warren Hills AVA)

Marguerite Barrett
Contributing Writer

One of the joys of Win(e)ding Roads is that in addition to discovering hidden gems among local wineries and wines, along the way you also discover places and people you wouldn’t otherwise meet. I have friends who have lived in Connecticut all of their lives who have told me they’ve never been to a Connecticut winery, and who are amazed that I’ve traveled more of their home state than they have. Without Win(e)ding Roads, that would have been me as well…

So when heading out on a win(e)day, I make a point to slow down and check out the surrounding area – drive through the local towns… find an interesting local restaurant… stop at local farmstands or antique shops. It makes for a longer, but far more interesting, day.

Riegelsville Inn, Riegelsville PA / Photo: Marguerite BarrettWhich is how Maree and I found Rieglesville, Pennsylvania. As we finished our visit to Alba Vineyards, we asked our hosts for lunch recommendations; they pointed us towards Pennsylvania and the Riegelsville Inn.

Riegelsville lies directly across the Delaware River from Milford, NJ and a scant 10 minutes down the road from both the Alba and Villa Milagro wineries.. A National Historic District, the town is one square mile, with a population of 863.  Located in the far northeast corner of Bucks County, one of the three original counties in Pennsylvania, Riegelsville is roughly 40 miles north of Washington Crossing, PA and the Washington Crossing Historic Park.

The town was named for it’s founder, Benjamin Riegel, who settled in the area in the early 19th century.  Throughout the 19th century, the town benefited from the area’s growing industrialization and its proximity to the Delaware River which was used to ship coal, iron ore and goods.  By the end of the 19th century, Riegelsville was a thriving mill town and paper company executives built large houses along what is now referred to as “Mansion Row.”  Many of these houses have been carefully restored, including the Benjamin Riegel House, which is still owned and occupied by the Riegel Family.

Roebling Bridge, Riegelsville, PA / Photo: Marguerite BarrettThe town is also known for the Roebling Bridge which spans the Delaware River providing both foot and automobile traffic with an easy crossing between Milford and Riegelsville.  Designed by Washington Roebling, who also designed and built the Brooklyn Bridge, the bridge is one of the “few remaining multi-span, highway suspension bridges with continuous cables.”  It’s a lovely bridge, almost ethereal looking, particularly when viewed through the trees from the bluffs overlooking the river on the Pennsylvania side.

The Riegelsville Inn, where we did stop for lunch, sits directly across from the bridge.  Built in 1838 by Benjamin Riegel and continuously operating since then, the Inn still occupies the original building and offers overnight accommodations, a restaurant and a pub.  The building is fronted by a large two-story porch which abuts the street and appears to be a gathering place for visitors and locals alike who come for a place to relax and have a drink or a meal.  The first floor is given over to the restaurant and the pub, and there’s also a patio off the pub with additional seating.  The interior of the building is carefully preserved, and the decor is carefully done to both highlight and evoke the character of the original architechtural features.

The menus were interesting and fairly extensive; the restaurant serves lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, and there is also a Pub menu.  We dined off the lunch menu, selecting the house salad with shrimp (me) and the caeser salad with chicken (Maree).  The salads were fresh, and while I didn’t ask, I suspect many of the ingredients were produced locally.

Unfortunately, I had not done any prior research on Riegelsville, so we didn’t know to take a drive through town and down “Mansion Row” before heading back to New Jersey.  But even without the tour, it was a relaxing lunch in an atmosphere that felt like we had stepped back into the lazy summer, small-town America afternoons of a previous age.

Central Delaware Valley AVA

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve, Editor

Welcome to another edition of the Stephen T. Colbert Memorial Better Know an AVA! Stephen wants all Americans to know the rich heritage of our Congressional districts and get to meet the people who occupy those seats. VinoVerve believes that you should get an opportunity to see where your local wine is being produced. So, as an homage to Stephen (who inspired me and who I would love to have a picture of holding a flag and a glass of wine (hint, hint…)) I give you a description of the fighting Central Delaware Valley AVA.

This viticulture area was designated in 1984 and further amended in 1987 and consists of 96,000 acres on both the Pennsylvania and New Jersey side of the Delaware River north of Philadelphia. The AVA at least as far as I can tell takes on the outline of a dragon. Why? I do not know. I just know that I tried to follow the descriptions listed in CFR as closely as possible and I have never gotten the image of an mythical creature before. So, I am going to chalk it up to dumb luck and hope I haven’t made a grave error. Ironically, I don’t think that you will find a lot of other sources for a map of this AVA so I am sincerely sorry for any weirdness that I may have created. I am a map nerd, but I am far from perfect.

Oh, and I am reasonably certain that you will NOT encounter any dragons while exploring this region. Marguerite has been out scouting the area already and she has not yet reported the smell of sulfur or scorched earth, so I think we are safe.

Central Delaware Valley AVA