Tom Carroll Jr. knew he was going to be a winemaker when he was 10 years old.
“I remember thinking, ‘everybody seems so happy,’” Carroll said of his experience visiting a winery as a child during a vacation with his parents, Tom Sr. and Christine.
It might not be the most conventional childhood dream, but it blossomed into Crossing Vineyards and Winery located in Washington Crossing.
The 200-year-old estate is listed on the Bucks County Registry of Historic Places and is close to where the first President crossed the Delaware River with the Continental Army in 1776. It was originally owned by William Penn in the 1600s and later by a close friend of Charles Lindbergh.
Deep roots anchor the vineyard in Bucks County’s history, however the roots of the grapevines that today line the property have been planted with an eye toward the future.
“When I was in California, I was impressed by how environmentally conscious they are,” Carroll said. “I wanted to bring those sustainable practices here.”
Those practices include composting, a high-efficiency geothermal heating and cooling system and a solar panel system that stretches across the roof of the winery. Carroll said that he tries to minimize the number of chemicals, herbicides and insecticides that he uses in the vineyard.
“I don’t go for that complete eradication where you’re just dumping chemicals into the ground,” Carroll said.
Crossing Vineyards “green” initiatives are helped by its location. The lack of nearby agriculture has minimized the number of insects on the property, according to Carroll.
“The bugs haven’t found us,” Carroll said.
Crossing Vineyards and Winery currently produces about 20,000 gallons of wine annually. Carroll said he would like to grow the vineyard’s grapes in a fully organic manner, but that a completely organic vineyard would not be economically practical.
He said that his commitment to being environmentally sustainable is “not a political thing,” and added that part of his mission as a vintner was to “desnobberize the concept of wine.”
“You can’t really be a snob here because it really comes down to your palette,” Carroll said. “Anyone can be a connoisseur.”
— Ted Bordelon