A taste of history

Bucks County Wine Trail presents first “Wine on the Waterfront” festival July 29 at Washington Crossing Historic Park

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

Picture this: a beautiful afternoon with a waterfront view and more than 40 unique wines waiting to be tasted, not to mention scenes that transport you to memorable moments in our country’s history. On Saturday, July 29, this vision will become a reality as the Bucks County Wine Trail presents its first-ever “Wine on the Waterfront” festival at Washington Crossing Historic Park.

Cheers!: Joe Maxian (L) and Kathy and Jerry Forest of Buckingham Valley Vineyards sample wines from the Bucks County Wine Trail at Washington Crossing Historic Park. Photo: Theresa Katalinas

Set among the Colonial Village near the corner of River Road at Route 532 in Washington Crossing, the event will feature live music and tastings of more than 40 varieties of wine from seven wineries — Buckingham Valley Vineyards, Crossing Vineyards, Peace Valley Winery, Rose Bank Winery, Sand Castle Winery, Unami Ridge and Wycombe Vineyards.

According to Joe Maxian, vice president of the Bucks County Wine Trail and owner of Sand Castle Winery, this is the first large-scale event the group has hosted in more than 15 years. In the early 90s, it held its first wine tasting festival at the Quakertown Airport, and though it was successful, each business went their separate ways afterward. Now, with the formation of the Wine Trail and unity of the seven, they’re ready to show the community all they have to offer.

When brainstorming locations for the festival, many came to mind, but the winery owners settled on Washington Crossing Historic Park for various reasons. In 1683, William Penn planted the first vineyard in Philadelphia. Since the park highlights historical moments such as when George Washington crossed the Delaware River, hosting it there seemed fitting and a way to honor Penn’s vision.

The Wine Trail also needed a location that could handle the event. The park previously held a beer festival, and according to Maxian, it was extremely organized and well-run. It doesn’t hurt that the organizers have some political clout as well, and were able to easily secure township approval.

At the festival, each winery will have its own tent and special presentation. Though they’re all from the same county, each has something different to offer.

“That’s the charm of it,” Maxian said. “The style of the wine depends on the personality of the wine maker.”

Sand Castle will have a varying selection of four sweet wines, including a sangria-style and blush, and three dry wines including sauvignon, champagne and dry Riesling. Even after years in the business, Maxian named Riesling as one of the biggest challenges during a wine tasting. Many complain it’s too sweet, but end up loving Sand Castle’s because they never knew a dry version existed.

For Maxian, it’s all about educating attendees. Though they’re taking a chance and trying something new, he believes the more they know about the wine the more they’ll enjoy it.

“Wine is like life itself,” he said.

Sand Castle Winery began operations in 1974 and corked its first bottle of wine in 1988. Comparing themselves to some of the best wineries in the world, Maxian and his staff constantly purchase and taste European wines to see what they like and how they can improve their product.

Though his business has been going strong for more than 40 years, Maxian explained how local wineries are often overshadowed by big companies spending millions of dollars on online advertising. People in a 20-mile radius tell him they never knew Sand Castle existed. It’s events like “Wine on the Waterfront” that help local wineries get their name out to the community and show people all they have to offer.

“It allows you to introduce yourself to the neighborhood,” Maxian said.

A portion of ticket sales will benefit the Bucks County Wine Trail while the remaining proceeds will help the Friends of Washington Crossing Park provide educational and historical programming. Food and wine (bottles and cases) will be available for purchase. Tickets are $25 per person and can be purchased at wine-on-the-waterfront.eventbrite.com.

“Wine on the Waterfront” will take place July 29 from 1–5 p.m. at Washington Crossing Historic Park located at 1112 River Road, Washington Crossing, PA.

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com.