Remembering Naylor Wine: Last day for beloved Hopewell Twp. winery

Naylor Wine Cellars is the oldest winery in the York region, and since its opening in the late 1970s, owner Richard "Dick" Naylor could be seen there every day, sitting in the tasting room and waiting to greet everyone.

"Naylor was the pioneer," said Susan Ewing, owner of Balla Cloiche Vineyards, in North Hopewell Township.

It wasn't until 1968 that wineries as they are today could even exist in the state, said Carl Helrich, winemaker and owner of Allegro Wine Cellars — which opened in 1980, about eight air miles from Naylor.

After 40 years, it was the end of an era in York County as Naylor's winery, at 4069 Vineyard Road in Hopewell Township, provided its last bottles of wine on Saturday, Aug. 24.

Following Naylor's death in December at age 90, his family continued operations until Helrich purchased the winery building and vineyard. Naylor's winery will add 7,000 square feet to Allegro's production space.

More:Dick Naylor, owner of Naylor Wine Cellars, dies at 90

It will allow Helrich to double or triple the amount of wine he makes now — which has been in high demand with a changing market, he said. He hopes to open in a few weeks.

"We’ve been neighbors for 40 years; I’ve known them for 17 years," he said of the family. "It’s a perfect partnership with this transition."

One reason he decided to utilize the same space was to keep the memory and tradition of Naylor alive, Helrich said.

York's oldest winnery, Naylor Wine Cellars celebrates their final day of business, Saturday, August 24, 2019. Neighboring Allegro Winery purchased their neighbor after long-time wine maker Dick Naylor passed away December 10.
John A. Pavoncello photo

Naylor didn't begin winemaking until his 50s, said his granddaughter, Amanda Brimfield. He was an established salesman who kept getting compliments and winning amateur contests for the wine he made in his basement, she said.

Before he opened his vineyard, he flew Chambourcin grapes from France into Canada to bypass a quarantine at the time, Brimfield said, adding, "He saw something he wanted, and he went for it."

More:Harvest time at York County vineyards a highlight of Pa. Wine Month

Many who knew him spoke about his larger-than-life character, including tales of Naylor sitting at his special table under the pavilion during music nights and talking to attendees.

"He drank Traminette," said John Stewart, of Glen Rock. "If you went over and you had a glass, he would ask you what you were drinking, and say, 'That goes really well with Traminette,' and pour it in your glass."

"He treated everybody the same — whether he knew them or not," Brimfield said. "People would just come visit the winery to talk to him."

Ewing, his closest neighbor in the wine scene after opening a tasting room last year, said there's a real sense of camaraderie among the York County wineries.

Each has its own niche, so they would often refer customers to each other, borrow needed items or share skills. Naylor's grandson, Dan Potter, "taught us how to prune," she said.

It's fitting that the last day at the winery had a final Summer Sounds — the big band music series — which was a well-remembered tradition of Naylor's.

"Dick's one of those rare guys who actually got to live out his dreams," said Tom McLaughlin, musical director of Unforgettable Big Band, from York County — a longtime performer at the event.

More:Unforgettable Big Band presents throwback New Year's Eve soiree

For at least 20 years, Naylor got to see his favorite style of music played at the summer series — which saw between 300 and 800 people at each event, McLaughlin said.

Gene Gruver, a former principal at Eastern York School District and a big fan of the Unforgettable band, was there Saturday celebrating his 90th birthday and called it "a great place to be — very sociable."

Amanda Brimfield, granddaughter of Dick Naylor, and her daughter Emma, 7, stand by a special memorial table as the Unforgettable Big Band performs "God Bless America" on the last night of business for York's oldest winnery, Naylor Wine Cellars, Saturday, August 24, 2019. Allegro Winery purchased their neighbor after long-time wine maker Dick Naylor passed away December 10.
John A. Pavoncello photo

"To think not to have this around, it's going to be a void," said John Manley, Gruver's longtime friend and former principal for Eastern and Littlestown high schools.

Ron Trayer noted that Naylor always sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the start of each night — and the band gave a tribute to him that evening with "God Bless America."

As the winery is ushered into a new era, the Naylor name will not die.

His family will continue distributing Naylor wine and sell it at Queensgate Town Center and the Markets at Shrewsbury, furthering his original business of selling wine carriers and shipping boxes all over the country.

"I just feel really fortunate that I was a part of it for a little bit," Brimfield said.