Aviator Winery, a newly opened Bedminster-based winery that’s part of AGA Farms, has become a member of the Bucks County Wine Trail.
The winery, which is run by Central Bucks High School math teacher Chris Burns and owner Dan Devery, is an outgrowth of the family-owned and operated 100-acre farm that’s been in his wife’s family since 1980.
Burns, his wife, Laura, and their four children are the third and fourth generation, respectively, to assist with the farm’s operation. Adding wine to the pick-your-own pumpkin, hayride, and corn maze season in the fall; and cut-your-own Christmas tree in the winter months was a way to “sustain us for another generation,” he said.
“We have all this gorgeous property,” Burns said. “It’s all preserved.”
The roughly 1-acre vineyard is in its sixth season. Burns began trying his hand at winemaking about five years ago. With plenty of practice under his belt, he makes 1,000 gallons per year from 10 total wine varieties, including Riesling, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Rose’, Apple – made with apples grown at Solebury Orchard – and his most popular among customers, First Class Cabin, a blend of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon aged in whiskey barrels.
“We’re on the very small side with room to grow,” he said.
Burns coined the winery name from the half-mile airstrip situated on the property, one of few privately owned airports in the five-county area. The 2,000-square-foot tasting room is an airplane hangar with 42-foot wide pull-down doors that lead out to an open area where, in warmer months, Burns hopes visitors will bring their own blankets and chairs to relax by the water.
The winery’s logo features a yellow airplane, a graphic of the actual 1946 model is stowed in a section of the hangar adjacent to the tasting room.
His father-in-law, Dan Devery, who purchased the farm from his father seven years ago, is a certified flight instructor who still flies on occasion. These days, his focus is more on the hand-planted 14,000 pumpkin crops the farm grows each year and the fresh Christmas trees available for the holiday.
“The pumpkin crop is phenomenal,” Devery said, adding that the family donates leftover pumpkins to local farms to feed their animals. “They’re very healthy.”
In addition to the winetasting room, the farm features a seasonal shop with wreaths, honey, jewelry, and home décor items available for purchase.
“We use all local vendors,” Devery said.
With the exception of a few hired hands, the farm and winery are family run. The youngest apprentices are the Burns’ kids, who relish putting labels on wine bottles, assisting with bottling and “helping with the whole process,” their proud dad said.
For now, the winery is open Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 6 p.m. through Dec. 24. It will close from Christmas through winter, reopening sometime in April. Eventually, Burns said he would like to expand Aviator Winery’s operations and remain open year-round.