Galer Estate: a bit of Napa in Unionville

New local winery combines excellent vintages, artistic presentation and surprising values

By Hannah Christopher, Staff Writer,

Now open on Folly Hill Road, the Galer Estate Winery is a great combination of stellar wines, cool decor and exceptional value. All-in-all, a wonderful addition to the Unionville community.

For many years now I have wanted to go visit Napa Valley and have been envious of my friends who have done so.  After last Sunday and my visit to Galer Estate right here in Kennett Square, I feel now like I have a little bit of Napa Valley right here in my backyard.

Last Sunday, my friend Suzy Hughes agreed to go with me after a game of platform tennis. She and I went to the beautiful, tall wine bar on Folly Hill Road and were greeted by Brad and Lele Galer themselves and the lovely Mary Beth Tryens.  We were able to look out at their vineyard of Chardonnay vines, one of two vineyards that the Galers own in Chester County.  I was especially looking forward to tasting these wines knowing that my friend Jan Grimes (vineyard manager) grew mostly all of these grapes that now were sitting in front of me in the form of delightful wines.

The decor is eclectic, with all kinds of delightful details around the tasting room. It proved a wonderful environment to sample the best of Galer Estate.

Artisan iron work, vintage wood and marble (some from the steps of Independence Hall in Philadelphia) salvaged from area buildings give the tasting room a comfortable, inviting environment.

There were eight wines to pick from and there were four different Chardonnays to taste.  In between each there was cheese and crackers and water to get the palate ready for a fresh tasting.  My personal favorite was the 2009 Chardonnay.  It was oaky which I found out from Lele was due to fermenting in oak barrels exported to the Galers from France.  This particular wine was so delicious that I bought several bottles as “gifts” for Christmas.

One of the Chardonnays available for purchase was an extremely reasonably priced 2008 Chardonnay at $10 a bottle.  This wine is recommended by Galer’s winemaker Catrina North to be paired with fresh seafood, or a pasta or chicken with cream sauce.

The 2010 Chardonnay is a very light, crispy wine that Suzy picked as her favorite of the four. This one according to  North, a winemaker formerly from the famous Wente Winery in Northern California, is a semi-naked Chard fermented in stainless longer so that you will taste more of the fruit flavors and less of the oak.

The 2010 Chardonnay Reserve is outstanding and is called a Reserve because it is made out of hand picked  perfect grapes that are set aside just for the Reserve.  The wine is aged for eight months in the French oak barrels.

The rustic look and fun design details of the tasting room makes any visit to Galer Estate memorable.

After enjoying the tasting of Chardonnay we were now focusing our attention on the two types of Rose” available at Galer Estate. I consider myself solely a Chardonnay girl but I was anxious to give it a go.  Mary Beth Tryens one of Lele’s friends was helping out customers that day with the tastings. Lele had an opinion on the Rose wines and Mary Beth told her to let us decide which one we liked better.  She gave both Suzy and I two tastings each of the Rose 2009 and the Rose 2010. I picked the 2009 and Suzy did as well.  We both liked the fruitier taste. The good news is that they were both delicious and the 2009 Rose is well priced at 12 dollars a bottle.  (More Christmas gifts!)

The 2010 Rose is a pale peach colored with hints of cranberry and apricot aromas.  The 2009 Rose is made similar to the 2010 Rose but is mellow and easy to drink with hints of Strawberry and bright citrus fruits. The grapes according to North were harvested in September and October of 2010.

The only wine I regretfully did not taste was the Pinot Gris 2010. Suzy did taste it and said it was light and she really enjoyed it. The grapes for the Pinot were purchased from the Historic Hopewell Vineyards from Oxford, PA.  North says that 155 Cases of this wine were produced and bottled in April of 2011.

Wine on tap allows customers to enjoy a single, perfect glass of wine every time.

Although there’s many vintages worthy of buying and taking home or sharing — there’s something worthwhile about spending time in the tasting bar beyond to cool decor: wine on tap!

Similar to beer tapping, it allows patrons to enjoy various kind of wine without opening a new bottle. The wine stays in a sealed environment, so it stays fresh and delicious. Plus, if you can’t decide between a rosé or chardonnay you can easily enjoy some of both.

We were having so much fun asking Lele and Brad questions about each of the wines, their vineyards and the harvesting and fermentation process of the wines.  It was great to see the smiles on the faces of this extremely hardworking couple who could now sit back a little and enjoy watching the fruits of their labor on the happy faces of their customers.

Lastly, we were in for a big treat to taste the Vidal Blanc Ice Wine. This is a desert wine that comes in a startlingly blue and very tall and lean bottle. The bottle itself is a piece of art. Not surprisingly since Lele Galer is a renowned artist originally from California but firmly planted here in Chester County.  Not only is the bottle gorgeous but what is inside of it is unbelievably good!  It is a fun and tasty wine with hints of golden fruit and ripe pineapple aromas. North states that this wine is fermented in a stainless steel tank and flashed frozen and was processed in December of 2010. The Vidal grapes are grown at the Galer’s larger vineyard at their home property in Pocopson township.  Suzy and I both bought this Ice Wine for gifts…hopefully they make it to the recipients.

Galer Estate Winery is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 1:00- 5:00 p.m. If anyone needs an afternoon of total and utter enjoyment and relaxation while you buy some holiday gifts and enjoy some divine wine tasting put this on your calendar as soon as possible. For more information contact

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  1. Hannah Christopher says:

    The Galers did buy the Folly Hill property from the previous owners. Thanks Dan

  2. Dan says:

    Very nice article. I’ve been there when it was Folly Hill Winery. Thought they had the setting for some pretty nice summer outings including Chadds Ford type concerts.. Probably the neighbors would like daytime activities rather than nighttime. One point that would be interesting to know – did they buy the winery from previous owners or are they the Folly Hill owners??

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