From the moment we saw the old 1866 barn, Brenda and I knew we were in for a treat at Brookmere Winery in Belleville, PA. Owners Cheryl and Ed Glick were happy to share some of the winery’s history and other interesting facts with us. The prior owners, Susan and Donald Chapman planted the first three acres of grape vines on the 138 acre farm in 1981. The winery first opened in 1984 and has been a fixture on route 655 ever since.
In 1995, Cheryl Glick went to work for the Chapmans at the winery. In 1999, Ed joined the winery staff and began learning the wine making process. When the Chapmans decided to sell the winery, the Glicks were there to buy it and continue Brookmere’s fine tradition. Today the Glicks grow 10 acres of grapes that include such French hybrid varieties as Chellois, Vidal, Seyval and Chambourcin. These represent between 35% and 40% of the grapes that make up the 13,000 gallons of wine that Brookmere produces each year. The remaining grapes come from other Pennsylvania growers. Most of Brookmere’s wine is fermented in steel tanks although some is aged in oak barrels. The bottling line can handle between 150 and 200 bottles per hour and the entire bottling process takes about three months per year.
The Glicks have the capacity and desire to expand the vineyard and winery to 20,000 gallons per year. When I asked them about the impact of the current economic crisis on sales, they replied that there has been no impact whatsoever. People consider wine to be a relatively inexpensive luxury and won’t give it up. It also makes a great gift that won’t break the budget. In fact, the Glicks told me that 2008 holiday sales were actually up over 2007. There are things that Cheryl and Ed would like to see change in the Pennsylvania laws governing wine sales. Under the current law, Brookmere can only sell their wine at five state operated liquor stores within a small radius of the winery. They would like that number and radius to expand. In addition, they wish they could ship their wine to more states. They would have no problem at all is the arrangements were reciprocal and wineries in other states were able to ship into Pennsylvania. According to Ed, “we’re not big enough to hurt them and they’re not big enough to hurt us”.