The Chaddsford Winery gave its official launch to springtime by popping the cork on this year's vintage of spring wine during the first of two consecutive weekends heralding the arrival of spring.
Winery owners Lee and Eric Miller hosted a picnic session Saturday afternoon and a wine tasting that night. They will do the same this coming weekend.
About 150 people attended the Saturday night tasting featuring 11 different wines, but the first stop was a sampling of spring wine.
Lee Miller said this year's vintage tastes sweeter than last year's even though the sugar content is less. She said that the acidity level is also less this year, changing the acid to sugar ratio.
Miller said spring wine is the first wine from a given vintage, bottled while "still green" in March.
She said the wine offers characteristics you don't get in older wines. There is more carbon dioxide in suspension, she said and that "a little tickly feeling on the tongue. ...It's light, fresh and crisp."
Spring wine doesn't hold up well, she said, as should be used by Labor Day.
"It's not a serious wine. It's a fun wine for picnics and on the beach. You wouldn't want a heavy red wine while sitting on the beach."
Roger Linde of Westtown Township has been frequenting the winery since the Millers have owned it.
"Ninety percent of our wine comes from here," he said. "It improves every year. You think it can't get better, but then they surpass their peak."
Another long-time patron of the winery is Mark McEwen, of Hockessin.
"This is our house wine," he said. "People here are always helpful and knowledgeable."
First time visitors were also impressed. Sisters Jennifer and Kathleen Leonard, of West Chester, each said the winery held a charm that other wineries don't.
"It's homey, more comfortable and not as snobbish as others," said Jennifer Leonard.
She added that the wines kept getting better as the tasting went on.
After tasting the Spring Wine at the first station, guests moved to Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay, followed by a barrel tasting with Eric Miller.
Miller poured samples of bottled Merlot, then drew sample from barrels of unfinished wine that would become Merlot next year. He said he blends 80 percent Merlot grapes with 20 percent Cabernet Sauvignon.
The next two stations offered the 2004 Proprietors Reserve red and a 2003 Pinot Noir, then a 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2001 Merican, a Bordeaux blend.
The final tasting station included sweet wines, a 2004 Sunset Blush and a 2005 Niagara. Pastries were available with the sweet wines while hors d'oeuvres were served at the other stations.
The winery will offer the same events Saturday, April 29.
Spring Picnics for two are available at $30 per couple both Saturday and Sunday. The Saturday night wine tasting is $20 per person. Reservations are required. Call 610-388-6221.