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Chester County Press

Local winemaker offers seminars on growing, making and appreciating wine

05/10/2016 12:43PM ● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
Staff Writer

Whether you are a dedicated oenophile or merely a casual wine drinker, rare is the opportunity to visit a winery, pull up a stool in its tasting room, and enjoy a glass of a cold, crisp Chardonnay, in the company of the winemaker who actually made the wine. From June 9 to Dec. 2, Galer Estate Winery in Kennett Square is making this fantasy possible for wine lovers everywhere.
Virginia Mitchell, the award-winning winemaker at Galer, will be giving seven, one-hour “lessons” on the many aspects of wine growing, wine making and wine appreciation, during informal gatherings at the winery's tasting room.  Kicked off on May 5 with a conversation about wine composition and chemistry, the series will continue on June 9, when Mitchell will take guests on a tour of the Galer vineyard during a lecture on Viticulture. On July 7, she will discuss the blending and bottling of wine, which will be followed by a seminar on grape harvesting, on Aug. 4.
The series continues on Sept. 1 with an introduction to Enology and fermentation, followed by an Oct. 13 discussion on grape varieties and wine growing regions. On Nov. 4, Mitchell will talk about the bottling and labeling of wine; and wrap up the series with an introduction to food and wine pairing, on Dec. 2. 
Mitchell credits Abigail Miller, Galer's marketing director, for creating the series, which is designed to take the frequently slammed-shut door of wine making and throw it wide open. 
“I think wine making has always been sort of closed,” said Mitchell, who has been at Galer since 2014. “A lot of winemakers don't want to tell each other their secrets, but there aren't secrets in wine making. You can talk to some and they won't tell you what they do, but the process is not a secret.
“A lot of times when I'm working here in the tasting room, people ask me if I ever do any classes about wine making and wine tasting and production. To many people, wine is a huge mystery, and it's intimidating.  There are always so many questions, and I like giving that information to people, and I like speaking to the public.”
In her nearly two-year tenure at Galer, Mitchell has already made her mark on the wine awards circuit. In 2014, her 2014 Rose earned a silver medal in the International Womens' Wine Competition, while her 2015 Red Lion Chardonnay earned a gold medal at the competition. Three of her other wines – the Huntress Vidal Blanc, the Pinot Gris and the Reserve Chardonnay – have been given awards.
A graduate of Penn State University, Mitchell formerly served as the cellar-harvest intern at Mazza Vineyards in North East, Pa. Before joining Galer, she worked a vintage at Two Hands Wines in Australia, and then returned to Mazza Vineyards as assistant winemaker.
Each event will be held from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is $20, and each guest will enjoy one complimentary glass of wine. To make your reservation for any of the seven sessions, call 484-899-8013. Galer Estates Winery is located at 700 Folly Hill Road, Kennett Square, Pa. 19348. For additional information about Galer Estate Winery events, visit

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail [email protected]

Lessons from the Winemaker
hosted by Virginia Mitchell, Winemaker
Galer Estates Winery

Thurs., June 9        Viticulture (vineyard visit)
Thurs., July 7        Blending & bottling
Thurs., Aug. 4        Grape harvest/grape berry sensory
Thurs., Sept. 1       Enology: Fermentation
Thurs., Oct. 13    Grape varieties/growing regions
Fri., Nov. 4        Bottles, closures & labels
Fri., Dec. 2        Food & wine pairing