Our story started as a vineyard and winery dream. We (Chuck Zaleski & Daneen "Fero" Zaleski) were a busy family with four children living in Lewisburg, PA. As three of children went off to college, we started our family business.
It has been hard work, but it is a labor of love.
Our land had been part of the family farm since 1812. We had good soil and the right conditions to grow premium wine grapes. Our goal is and will always be to make premium wine from the Pennsylvania land that we really care about.
In 1812 this tract of land was purchased by our family. It has remained in the family since then. It has always been a farm. The farm has produced corn, wheat, beans and vegetables for generations. But that dreaded suburban sprawl was closing in. The surrounding land is turning into shopping centers and housing developments. There were plans to develop this property too. But we knew this hillside farm had a greater purpose. There were years of research, test plots, and soil preparation. Finally the plan was launched and with the help of our families we hope to preserve this land for at least a few more generations.
In the spring of 2010 we planted 13,500 vines on 12.5 acres, and all of the vines are viniferous grafted on to phylloxera resistant rootstock either 101-14 or 3309. The varieties were chosen based on test plot and root stock data in our trial vineyard. These varieties do well in conditions like ours. Great wines always start with the best grapes. Nature provides the flavors and sugars that we can turn into fine wine. We practice sustainable viticulture because we respect what nature can do when we are good stewards of the land.
Fero Vineyards lies in the Buffalo Valley, which is part of the Ridge and Valley Province of the Appalachian Mountains. The Appalachian Mountains extend from Alabama to Newfoundland. The Ridge and Valley Province is a section of the mountain chain characterized by long even ridges and valleys. From the air this looks like corduroy fabric. Almost all of this section is lined up from north to south except for this special little bend in Pennsylvania. In the heart of Central Pennsylvania our hills are oriented from east to west giving us the ideal south facing gentle slopes. The deep soils are derived from ancient sea and lake beds weathered for a few hundred millions years. It is common to find fossilized sea shells when walking in the vineyard. The Middle Susquehanna Valley is in the ideal location for premium wine growing in the Eastern United States.
Central Pennsylvania is in a temperate continental climactic region. This means the summers are warm and the winters are cool and there is abundant rainfall. Our growing season starts in the end of April and usually ends in October giving us 170 to 180 days to ripen the grapes. This calculates to about 3,000 Growing Degree-Days. We receive less than 40 inches of rain a year. Our location on the down sloping side of the mountains helps keep us a little drier. This climate closely resembles the conditions found in many wine growing regions in Austria, Germany and Eastern France. We are situated between two successful premium wine growing regions in the Eastern United States. One hundred miles to our north is the Finger Lakes region of New York. They have been making fantastic cool climate wines for years. But the Finger Lakes vineyards have to fight the winter cold by burying their vines under soil every year. Virginia suffers through extreme summer heat and humidity and the risk of tropical storms in the critical ripening season. Right in the middle we are cool enough in the growing season to express the varietal characteristics of our grapes, and we have enough warmth and sun to reach our desired ripeness.