By Josh Popichak – The motto for Rushland Ridge Vineyard & Winery near Jamison in Bucks County could easily be “small but mighty.” Although its annual output is a modest 2,000 gallons, owner Ed Ullman’s winery has a devoted following thanks to its award-winning Cabernet Franc and other wines.
Located on the Bucks County Wine Trail amid wind-rustled cornfields that seem a world away from the bustling suburban developments of nearby Doylestown, the first vineyard at Rushland Ridge was planted by Ed and his wife Lisa in the mid-1980s.
Today vineyards occupy six acres of the rural 22-acre property, Ullman said, noting that 100 percent of the wine bottled at Rushland Ridge is made from grapes grown there.
“We’re like a farmstand here,” he said.
An important achievement for Rushland Ridge came in June 2017, when their Cabernet Franc won the prestigious title of “Best Red” at PA Sommelier Judgment Day, a competition organized by the Pennsylvania Winery Association that featured 110 wines from around the state.
Although the flavor profile of a particular wine varies from season to season, since weather and soil conditions aren’t constant from year to year, Ullman said the quality of this year’s Cabernet Franc and all of their wines is consistently high.
“What won isn’t much different than what we’re selling right now,” he pointed out.
The Cabernet is the winery’s priciest vintage other than their port, which retails for $25 for a 500 ml. bottle. Their other wines retail in the $10 to $14-a-bottle range.
The cost of a bottle of wine is just one of the things that has changed since Ullman began making wine as a teenage hobbyist in Abington, on the outskirts of Philadelphia, in the 1960s. But the fundamentals of the wine-making process haven’t changed, he said.
“Making wine’s a lot like cooking,” he said. “The more you do it, the better you get at it.”
Ullman has made a lot of wine over the past 50 years, and he’s developed a following to the point where customers regularly travel to Rushland Ridge just to pick up cases of it.
He stressed that while his family wants to maintain the small-winery atmosphere they’ve carefully cultivated over the years, they are taking some steps to grow their business.
For example, the Ullmans are branching out to related areas of beverage production, with his son fermenting hard cider made from local apples which Rushland Ridge will sell.
Ed Ullman said he may develop something akin to a “wine park” on the property in the future, that would allow for more people to stay and enjoy a glass or two on the premises.
There is also a plan to put their wine on tap at a microbrewery that will be opening nearby.
Currently all the wine Rushland Ridge produces is sold onsite out of its tasting room, which is open Saturday from noon to 6 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.
When you visit you’ll likely be greeted on your way in by the vineyard’s four-legged mascot, the Ullmans’ friendly black lab, Rita.
The winery is closed in January and February, which is one of the reasons Ullman calls Rushland Ridge “a seasonal winery.”
Harvest season is in September and into October, which means all hands will be on deck to harvest this year’s fruit and begin the process of producing another vintage.
“I enjoy it,” Ullman said. “We’re about wine.”
Rushland Ridge Vineyard and Winery is located at 2665 Rushland Road in Jamison, Pa.