You’ll need a map. And you might need a couple of days. And come thirsty.
Kent County, Delaware, has organized a new tour for visitors. You can tell by the logo this could be fun. This isn’t a wine trail or a beer tour. Instead, it takes visitors to a distillery, two wineries and a two breweries all within the limits of Delaware’s middle county.
Dover makes a good starting point. The tour (here’s a map) takes wine/beer/spirits lovers all over the county from Marydel to Smyrna to Felton and Milford. In between it’s all country and small town — with a few little shops, restaurants and in summer some farm stands to make it a relaxing way to spend a few days.
I had only a day away and that turned out to be enough time to see Harvest Ridge Winery in Marydel, Fordham & Dominion Brewing Company in Dover and Painted Stave Distillery in Smyrna — a day for beer, wine and distilled spirits.
On another day I was able to visit Mispillion River Brewing Company in Milford, and one day soon I’ll make my way Pizzadili Vineyards and Winery in Felton. (They make pumpkin wine. After my visit to Harvest Ridge, I’m going to have to go here and try the pumpkin wine.) With two full days, I could have seen all five with some good meals and great scenery in between.
Each stop offers tours of their facilities and tastings (about $5) in their nicely appointed tasting rooms. You can also expect cheerful staff to go along with the tasty refreshments. Bring a few friends or make a few. I went alone to Fordham and had not a bit of trouble making a few friends within minutes of my arrival.
I found the whole experience quite educational. This was my first visit to a distillery — and I had no idea how gin and vodka were made. At Harvest Ridge, we talked about tannins, old and new oak barrels and other important facets of the winemaking process.
The key to this tour is the variety — something Kent County Tourism Executive Director Cindy Small said was a hard concept to sell, well at least at first.
Now, the wine/beer/spirits tour is attracting attention and bringing in thirsty visitors.
I enjoyed my visits to the four of the five destinations — and I have every intention of getting to Pizzadili soon as I can.
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© Text and photos Mary K. Tilghman
Pizzadili Vineyard photo and tour logo courtesy Kent County Tourism.