November 14th, 2012 at 1:58 pm
I was a Jersey girl before I moved to West Chester. Although I was born in Pennsylvania and lived in the state through my college years, after graduate school I ended up in northern New Jersey, just outside of Manhattan. I honestly thought I’d stay there forever. I loved the hustle and bustle, the proximity to the “action,” and my job on Madison Avenue.
But when my husband was offered a position in Media, he just couldn’t turn it down. It was a great opportunity, one of those once-in-a-lifetime chances that you just can’t refuse. The only hitch? I didn’t want to leave New Jersey. So he made the commute, staying with a friend three nights a week and driving back and forth to our home on the other days. (I should mention here how wonderful my husband is.)
This arrangement worked for awhile, but with time it grew old. I missed him, he missed me. The stress of it all wasn’t good for either of us. During one of those weeks when we just didn’t want to be apart for three whole days, my husband’s host suggested that we have a mid-week rendezvous at Sweetwater Farm Bed & Breakfast, a Georgian manor and cottages situated on 50 acres in Glen Mills.
Looking back, I can say that our two-day stay at Sweetwater Farm played a big part in convincing me that I should give up New Jersey for the Brandywine Valley. The tranquility and beauty of the B&B and the graciousness of the innkeepers provided a tonic for what ailed me. My stress melted away as I strolled the grounds and took in the splendor of the area. I said goodbye to the big city and embraced a more relaxed lifestyle here.
Fast-forward 12 years to today. Stress has a way of creeping in, no matter how hard you try to keep it at bay. Kids, work, money—and aren’t the holidays just around the corner?—all of it was recently bringing back that old feeling of anxiety. And again, Sweetwater Farm came to the rescue—only this time it was courtesy of Grace Winery, which opened just a few years ago on the grounds of the B&B.
I headed to the winery this past weekend to try their offerings. As luck would have it, the day’s tasting was being held in the vineyard. The week’s earlier cold temperatures had given way to a glorious warm fall weekend, so being outside among the vines was a wonderful escape from reality. Three chardonnays, two rosés, a merlot, and a glass of mulled wine later, I can honestly say that whatever stress I was once feeling is now gone.
The wines are light, crisp, and not too sweet–just the way I like them. The atmosphere is festive yet relaxed, with couples and groups of friends coming in and out for tastings. The hosts who poured the wines, Alex and Kathryn on the day I visited, are knowledgeable and friendly. Ordinarily tastings are held in a converted barn on the property, an amazing structure that perfectly blends the old and the new. (The day I visited, the barn was being used for a wedding party; yes, you can rent out the facilities for group functions!)
Before the stress of the holiday season rolls in—or even while you’re in the midst of it—I suggest you pay a visit to Grace Winery, which is open each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for tastings ($7; check the website for hours). For the remainder of the year, tastings will be held in the barn, with the exception of December 8, when the winery will be closed. If you have family or friends coming into town, consider lodging them at Sweetwater Farm B&B. Who knows? Maybe they’ll end up wanting to move to the Brandywine Valley, too.