This year’s second recipient started from humble beginnings, and had parents that hoped he would become a doctor. He wanted to purchase the first Honda Motorcycle franchise in North Jersey where he grew up. He and his parents settled on the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied Economics and Statistics.
Strumming his guitar at the University of Pennsylvania with his roommate Vladimir Guerrero, Jerry often talked about owning a winery and making wine. That is also where he met his wife of 50+ years and had three children. During those early years he worked a few corporate jobs including Weyerhaeuser and General Foods.
Eventually he took a job in Bucks County and moved his family to Levittown. He began buying property in Buckingham in 1966 through 1986 totaling 42 beautiful acres and started planting grapevines. In 1973 he and Kathy received one of the first winery licenses in Pennsylvania. They were proud to produce a white, red and Rosé at the high price of $2.75 a bottle. In 1976, the Forests formed the Pennsylvania Wine Association.
Fast forward fifty years, he still owns and operates Buckingham Valley Vineyard and Winery, one of Pennsylvania’s largest wineries, along with Kathy and their three sons. He still plays a key role in the daily operations working part time… twelve hours a day/seven days a week. They grow, produce, and sell over twenty different varieties of wines including sparkling wines. He often reminds his family that life is a journey not a destination.
Though Jerry has always worked hard at fulfilling his dreams, he has always found time to give back to his community. He has served on the boards of the Bucks County Economic Development Corporation, Bucks County Industrial Development Authority, Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce, Bucks County Tourist Commission, and the Bucks County Wine Trail. These are just a few of the organizations for which he has volunteered.
Jerry joined the BCEDC in 1970 when it was still called the Bucks County Industrial Development Corporation (BCIDC). He has served as President of the Executive Committee; 1984-1985, 1992-1993, & 2002-2003. He has also served as Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Past President and Member at Large, has been on the Strategic Planning Committee, and still serves on the Personnel Committee. Jerry is a valuable asset to the BCEDC organization with his knowledge of Bucks County, economics and his positive outlook and laid-back nature.
It is because of this public service he has been chosen for the life time achievement award.
Jerry is and has been the conscience of the Board. His honor, ethics and transparency help remind all of us how much better the world could be if more people went through life as Jerry does. He brings a special vision and insight to the board and to the BCEDC without which we would not have accomplished all that we have. —Jim Tyrrell