This past Wednesday, Executive Chef Scott Megill and General Manager Elizabeth Megill of Grace Winery graced (see what we did there?) COOK with a fantastic seasonal wine pairing dinner. The Inn at Grace Winery is located in the heart of Brandywine Valley in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania. The original Quaker farmhouse from 1734 sits on fifty acres of historic land. From housing the British during the battle of Brandywine, to housing countless barrels of wine, this beautiful land has certainly seen a lot. In 1995, current owner Chris Le Vine named the winery after his sister, Grace, who previously owned the establishment, formally Sweetwater Farm Bed and Breakfast.
While the wine was absolutely a hit, Scott’s execution of locally procured meats, cheeses, and vegetables stole the show. COOK guests enjoyed an amuse trio followed by a four course meal. Each course was served with a wine that complemented the flavors of the dish.
Scott kicked off the meal with some small seasonal bites and a heart-warming butternut squash soup. The cheese featured on the sourdough toast was The Farm at Doe Run’s Dragonfly cheese. This sustainably run Chester County farm churns out award-winning cheeses and their Dragonfly is one of their best. It’s a soft cow’s milk cheese that is creamy and sweet, a perfect cheese to combine with Scott’s cranberry compote. Elizabeth informed the class that Scott makes all of their jams and preserves on the winery’s property. You can’t get any fresher than that!
For the first course, Scott prepared a beautifully bright beet and salmon tartare. While showing COOK patrons his knife skills, Scott gave a great tip for cutting and breaking down beets. He shingled beet slices and then ran his knife through them for a quick dice. The base of the plate was a fragrant chamomile apple butter. According to Scott, the light floral notes in chamomile are similar to apple and helped cut through some of the sweetness of the apple butter. The raw quail yolk on top provided richness and tied everything together. Fun fact: quail eggs are safe to consume raw due to quails having a higher body temperature than chickens.
Paired with the small beet and salmon tartare plate was their pinot gris. This light and sweet wine was a perfect choice to pair with the first course as it has notes of apple and is also recommended for light fish and seafood dishes. The subtle wine was a perfect way to start off the dinner without overpowering the palate.
This next dish was many dinner guests’ favorite course. People marveled at how tender and smokey the pheasant was and couldn’t get enough of it. Before he served the dish, Scott gave a demonstration of how to properly and easily breakdown a whole pheasant. Using his trusty Japanese butcher knife, Scott found where the tendons connected and was able to cut through the bird without cutting through bones. He effortlessly removed the legs and wings and set aside the extra bones to use for stock.
Once the bird was broken down, Scott gave out his simple pheasant rub recipe. Take equal parts brown sugar and salt and lightly rub the meat. Let the rub set in for 30-60 minutes to allow the flavors to get into the meat. The sweetness from the brown sugar went well with the sweet potatoes.
Aged in French oak barrels, the Grace Winery Reserve Chardonnay’s oak flavor paired excellently with the smokey profile of the pheasant. The soft buttery notes help cut through the smoke and provide a nice mouth feel. Elizabeth mentioned that they have a woodworker that makes clocks, beer coasters and more out of the oak barrels that can no longer be used for wine production. Another tidbit she gave was that Dock Street Brewing Co. is infusing their beer with Grace Winery’s Chardonnay. They are calling the creation “Fainting Goat” after the young fainting goats on the property at The Inn.
For the main course Scott grilled up some elk strip loins and brussels sprouts for a hearty savory dish. The elk was gorgeous and was treated and prepared like a fine cut of steak. Scott explained that the loin comes from the back of the elk and is tender since they are on four legs. Our backs undergo a lot of stress from walking upright, and therefore, according to Scott, would be unappetizing (for more reasons than one actually). Scott fried up sunchokes that he grew in his garden at Grace Winery, lending a slight sweetness to bring a balance to the savory components of this dish.
Due to Pennsylvania’s rich and fertile farmland, red blends thrive. It has everything to do with the development of the grape plant. In the less fertile soil of the west coast, the grape plant puts much of its energy into producing its fruits (stressed grapes yield strong flavors) whereas in Pennsylvania, the grape plant is able to thrive – growing full stems, leaves, and fruits. The flavor of these grapes is more subtle, however it opens a world of possibility for mixing flavors for a perfect result that is not overpowering. Fun fact: the vines at Grace Winery hold grapes 2 weeks longer than most typical PA vineyards. In addition, limestone found on their land helps further develop the flavor of their wines. The 1734 Blend is a mix of a lasting, flavorful merlot and bold cabernet sauvignon. 1734 refers to the year William Penn chartered the land. This wine is not 283 years old!
Lastly, what better way to end a wine dinner than with some cheese? This course featured mini cheese stuffed crêpes. The flavor profile of this dessert was akin to an “Italian brie” – a robiola-style cheese with a creamy consistency. This dish featured Farm at Doe Run’s Hummingbird cheese which offered a light, creamy flavor with subtle notes of citrus, as well as Fat Cat, an earthy, raw cow’s milk cheese from Birchrun Hills Farm, a dairy farm in Chester Springs owned by the Miller family. Scott described Sue Miller as the “grandmother of Pennsylvania cheese.”
Wine with cheese is a no-brainer. Grace Winery’s rosé is fruity, light and floral with crisp notes of strawberries, cranberries, and watermelon, plus a little “funk.” Crafted from merlot and cabernet franc, Scott referred to it as “the best” to come out of Grace Winery.
Be sure to visit the Inn at Grace Winery! They have a private dining room in the wine cellar, perfect for private events and parties. Chef Scott Megill designs seasonal menus around the wines. His COOK menu is a great example of a typical wine pairing dinner at the Inn. The dining room is usually booked a month out, so be sure to make reservations ahead of time!
The Inn at Grace Winery
50 Sweetwater Rd, Glen Mills, PA 19342
610-459-4711Back to Blog