"Attention campers! Bug juice will be served at the mess hall in 10 minutes!"
Yes, it's summertime, and camps throughout the region are ramping up for another busy season.
Yet there is one local camp where the "bug juice" they're serving is hardly the Kool-Aid variety, and where campers surely need to be over the age of 21 to enjoy it.
"Wine Camp," sponsored by the Chester County Conference and Visitors Bureau, is a three-day, two-night tasting and touring experience that features visits to five area wineries; two dinner events, a retreat at Longwood Gardens, and two nights' lodging at a nearby bed and breakfast.
Brandywine Valley Wine Camp starts the evening of Friday, June 20, and runs through the afternoon of Sunday, June 22, at a cost of $375 per person, including taxes and most gratuities. As of early this week, there were a few spots left.
The conference bureau's executive director, Blair Mahoney , is enthusiastic about the inaugural season. "It's a way to enjoy the great wineries and terrific B&Bs in the area; a hands-on weekend opportunity to really learn about wine."
"Campers" will get the chance to enjoy a barrel tasting at Chaddsford Winery; take an educational walk through the grape plantings at Kreutz Creek Vineyards in West Grove; dine and sip at a food-and-wine-pairing lunch at Paradocx Vineyard in Kennett Square; learn the wine-making process, from grape crushing to wine bottling, at Twin Brook Winery in Gap, and get a lesson in the chemistry of wine at Stargazers Vineyards just outside Coatesville.
In addition, there will be a picnic dinner concert at Chaddsford Winery the opening night, and a wine dinner at Brandywine Prime restaurant on the final night.
The focus at each venue will be to provide a better understanding of wine through fellowship with winery owners, winemakers, and fellow campers.
Mahoney stresses the sobriety factor of his camp. "The impetus is in combining various food components while not making the weekend a drink-fest. Wine-pours will strictly be samples - just a few ounces each, and spit buckets will be furnished for those who don't want to imbibe, hence the word
Casey Kaleba along with his wife, Jennifer, plan on doing some tasting of their own that weekend. The couple, who are in their early 30s, are excited to travel from their home in northern Maryland to become wine campers for a couple of days. They look forward to learning more about wines in a structured yet easy-going environment. The Kalebas say they welcome the opportunity to meet other wine enthusiasts.
"My wife and I think this will be fun, a nice weekend of good food and wine within a picturesque corner of the world. The fact that we can make it a sleepover makes it all a great combination."
If this initial event proves successful, Blair Mahoney sees other camps in the offing, including history camp, horticultural camp, culinary camp, and, possibly, motorcycle touring camp.
For more information on Wine Camp, go to
» READ MORE: www.brandywinevalley.com/winecamp.asp
or call 800-228-9933.
The number of spots for campers is limited.