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Chester County Press

Climb aboard the Chester County Cheers Trail

03/13/2024 02:07PM ● By Richard Gaw

Over the last decade, the 750 square miles of Chester County has transformed from having a moderately good reputation as a destination for locally made libations to an emerging industry that now draws both raves and visitors on a regular basis. 

In a county known for its history, for cultural meccas like Longwood Gardens and for its quaint hometowns, there is now a bright and bountiful new kid in town, with beer, wine and spirits to enjoy that are tucked along the country road crevices of a growing county.

Over the past several years, the Office of Chester County Tourism has championed – and promoted – each stage of the industry’s growth. In 2018, the agency launched BV Brew Scene that recognized the emerging craft brew scene, and its website served as a mapping tool and information source that connected legions of brewing aficionados to the dozens of breweries that were popping up throughout the county. A few years later, as the county began to enjoy a rising number of wineries and distilleries, it formed Chester County Cheers, a broad overview in the form of a printed brochure and website – that now encapsulates 50 breweries, wineries, tasting rooms and distilleries from Phoenixville to Oxford under one umbrella of tours, tastes and tourism.

“All of these places are part of the infrastructure of Chester County, but by putting them all together, they become more of an attraction and more of a story,” said Nina Kelly, director of marketing and communications for Chester County Tourism. “It has enabled guests – no matter where they are in the county -- to look at the map and see that a winery and a distillery or a brewery is not far from where they are.”

In a larger sense, the agency’s program is following the lead of what has become a growing phenomenon across the U.S., the economic impact of which is providing ancillary business for hotels, inns, restaurants and other social amenities that are near wineries, breweries, tasting rooms and distilleries.

“Beginning several years ago, we began to see an uptick in people who were embarking on what are called brewcations and a substantial number of others were putting them on their radar,” said Jack Lodge, Chester County Tourism’s communications technology manager, who also has experience in the local craft brewing industry. “They’re driving, they’re staying in nearby hotels, they’re engaging in the local flair and they are taking this unique experience home with them, and telling their friends, ‘Try this.’”

“We rarely promote a single entity in Chester County on its own,” Kelly said, “so the beer, wine and spirits industry is marketed as part of a larger experience in visiting Chester County, in terms of, ‘I am coming to Chester County for ‘X’ and I am staying for ‘Y’. It is intrinsically tied to agritourism because of the use of the land, and it is tied to open space that is used to grow the products made in the making of wine, beer and spirits.”

Chester County Cheers Trail

While the burgeoning growth of the industry is being supported through the agency’s Chester County Cheers initiative, there is a new incentive program -- launched at the Kennett Winterfest on Feb. 24 -- that is very likely to draw additional visitors. By registering for the Chester County Cheers Trail (, visitors can receive points simply by stopping by any of the 25 breweries throughout the county. Those accumulating points will be able to turn them in to receive prizes like hoodies, t-shirts, baseball caps, winter caps and beer glasses – all with the new Chester County Cheers Trail logo emblazoned on them.

The Trail – free to all members who sign up -- is a cooperative venture created by Chester County Tourism with support from Bill Covaleski of Victory Brewing Company and Seth Mathlery of Iron Hill Brewing Company.

“We wanted to establish a simple incentive plan as a deliverable for our guests that will help them build their own itineraries throughout the county,” Lodge said. “Every time a guest visits a brewery, their phone tracks their location to that brewery and points are just a simple click away. Another great benefit about this new platform is that it informs members about upcoming bottle releases and special events and incentives for visiting. 

“The more places you visit, the more points you build up.”

Chester County Tourism will expand the Chester County Cheers Trail Program to include wine and spirits on June 9 at the Kennett Summerfest in Kennett Square, sponsored by Kennett Collaborative. First introduced in 2022, the event will bring local wineries and distilleries together with food, art and live music in a sophisticated festival atmosphere.

“Coming from the craft brewing industry, I place the same importance on internal collaboration as I do with the people who enjoy our Chester County Cheers program and this new incentive,” Lodge said. “Our hope has always been to get all of our breweries to know each other and work with each other. There is cross-pollination between all three of our beverage sectors, and our role is to interconnect them as part of a whole. It’s all about helping each other.”

To learn more about the Chester County Cheers program, see a list of all participating wineries, distilleries, tasting rooms and distilleries and register for the Chester County Cheers Trail, visit

To learn more about upcoming events and key attractions throughout the Brandywine Valley, visit

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