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Holiday Wine Festival at Crossing Vineyards and Winery in Bucks County

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The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania doesn't normally conjure up thoughts of freshly harvested grapes and award-winning wines, but a fairly new, family-owned winery in Bucks County is trying to change that impression. Crossing Vineyards and Winery is set on a 200-year-old estate, and named for the history of the town. Less than a mile from the winery is Washington Crossing Park and the place where George Washington crossed the Delaware in 1776. Barrels

Recently, during the Holiday Wine Festival, the winery opened its doors to travelers from all over the tri-state area who came to sample the vintner's collection and tour the grounds. The place was founded by the Carroll family -- Tom, Sr. Christine and their son Tom, Jr. -- the vintner. Tom "the dad" was busy buzzing around the winery Saturday afternoon, greeting his visitors with his floppy Santa hat and tiny dog, Tootsie. He spoke excitedly about all the events happening at their 20-acre vineyard, especially some of the awards they've earned since opening in 2000.

The Cabernet Franc '06 Reserve and Estate Vidal Blanc '08 have been recognized in the Jefferson Cup Competition, and their Signature and Vintner's Select Series earned three Silver medals in the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition held in Rochester, NY. "We're busy all the time," Tom Carroll, Sr. said as the ladies behind the counter rang up guests for wine tastings and bottles of wine they planned to take home with them.

The Holiday Wine Festival was meant more for visitors from throughout the region, coming to sample the large selection of Crossing wines. Two sparkling wines, Blanc de Blanc and Brut Rose, were brought back just for the holiday season. Visitors came from as far as New York, East Stroudsberg, Pennsylvania, and even South Jersey during the weekend, Carroll said.

The front entrance of the winery displays the gift shop where a variety of wine-related items are sold, such as wine carriers, openers, books on wine and T-shirts. Finding a gift for that certain someone who is hard to shop for is a breeze here. They offer gift cards and special assembled gift baskets. For those who don't know much about wine but want to learn more, Crossing Winery also has its own "wine institute" where they offer educational courses, like wine and cheese pairing, as well as wine and chocolate pairing. And there's a long list of events on the grounds, like a winter wine-maker's dinner where hearty winter foods are paired with wine, or wine tasting for singles, offered the same night that they hold a jazz and wine festival. "Everything we do sells out," Carroll said, with a smile. Fountain

For those who simply wanted to sample the wines during the Holiday weekend, two choices were offered: a standard tasting for 8 dollars, which allowed a sampling of between 10 and 12 wines, and the premium option a 15 dollar one which offers even more, including the reserve collection. Guests walked through the cavernous barrel room where the Signature and Estate Series wines, including Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc are aged in French Oak casks. On to the tasting room and more than a dozen guests were sampling the various offerings being poured by well-educated staff. There's a rather large selection to choose from. Their red wines include: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc (both reserve and regular), Cabernet-Merlot, Merlot (both reserve and regular), Pinot Noir (both reserve and regular), and a Chambourcin Reserve and Vintner's Select Red. For those who favor white, they offer two Chardonnays, a Viognier, Riesling, Vintner's Select White, and two Vidal Blancs. And there's also a variety that sets Crossing apart from the rest: a special selection of wild berry, Le Nouveau, Blanc de Blancs, Brut Rose, Blush and Apple.

Crossing Vineyard and Winery is open from noon to 6 p.m. daily, but will be closed on Christmas Day and New Years Day. It's located at 1853 Wrightstown Road, Washington Crossing, Penn.