Go to any city bar, order a spirit and you’re looking at an easy $12 drink. Generic brand beers are cheaper but prices are still high and the quality isn’t there. Luckily, as more breweries and wineries are opening across the country, drinkers don’t have to settle. You can jump on a beer and wine trail and get tipsy for less.
The wine and ale trail you’ll find in Kent County Delaware, the state’s Southernmost county, is ripe with passionate beer, wine, and spirits artisans. Three marketing minds at the Kent County tourism office wanted to differentiate themselves from other states and re-name the trail as a tour.
They came up with the Good Libations Tour, a drive through three towns to five locations in Southern Delaware.The tour promotes the growth of the county’s local-made wines, beer and spirits industry.
The Good Libations tour takes guests on five stops through Milford, Marydale, and Smyrna, Delaware. Guests visit Harvest Ridge Winery, Painted Stave Distillery, Fordham & Old Dominion Brewing Co., Pizzadili Vineyard & Winery, as well as Mispillion Brewing Company.
Here are some facts about the stops along the tour:
Harvest Ridge Winery: 447 Westville Road, Marydale, DE 19954
- Sommelier Milan Mildga is passionate about the wines they’re creating and truly enjoys educating guests on Harvest Ridge’s products.
- Bottles here are priced on the higher end at $16, $18 and $30.
- The 2012 Malbec is their strongest contender but you will pay for it - it’s their $30 bottle. * I’m a fan of the 2011 Merlot.
Painted Stave Distillery: 102 W. Commerce Street Smyrna, DE 19977
- Painted Stave is the state’s first stand-alone, legal craft distillery since prohibition.
- The distillery is housed in an ironic and unique location: next door to a church in a renovated movie theater that dates back to 1948, complete with the original marquee sign.
- Co-owner Ron Gomes is a cell biologist turned distiller and mixologist. He and his partner Mike Rasmussen came up with the idea of opening up the distillery over drinks.
- Take a tour of the distilling room and watch the process of corn fermenting in open vats alongside a 50-gallon still, playfully named Frankenstill. The 250-gallon still which creates most of Painted Stave’s product is made by Vendome, an old Kentucky manufacturing company that makes stills for the likes of Jack Daniels.
- Ron and Mike do a lot of experimentation with flavors for their contemporary gins. *The espresso gin was one of my favorites.
Fordham & Old Dominion Brewing Company: 1284 McD Drive Dover, DE 19901
- In 2012 Fordham and Old Dominion brands collectively did 24,000 barrels (330,000 cases) of craft beer.
- The company brews their own beer and makes their own old-fashioned soda as well.
- Because of the short life span of craft beers, distribution is contained within a 150-mile radius to ensure that the consumer gets fresh beer.
- The craft beer industry accounts for only 10% of the beer sold annually in the United States - Fordham Old Dominion is positioning itself to be a part of the industry’s growth.
Pizzadili Vineyard & Winery: 1683 Peach Basket Rd Felton, DE 19943
- The vineyard and winery sit on 110 acres of land, 20 acres of which are used for grapes.
- Owner Pete Pizzadili has been in the wine business for 58 years; Pizzadili has been opened since 1992 and is run strictly by family.
- Everything that goes into Pizzadili wines is planted and grown on the land.
- Pizzadili offers 21-22 wines and plants 12 different variety of grapes.
- Pete is a warm hospitable wine maker who’s proud of his product yet contempt with staying small and not selling to the world. *I left with a bottle of the Wives’ Table wine.
Mispillion Brewing Company: 255 Mullet Run Street Milford, DE 19963
- Mispillion is young (just opened in November) but they already have 15 different beers they can put on tap - they currently offer 8.
- Owner Eric Williams sees brewing as an art form so it’s no surprise that they’ve brewed 41 different beers since their opening.
- $5 will get you a tasting of four 5 oz. beers - do that twice and you might need help walking out of Mispillion.
Once you’re done wetting your tongue on the five stops of the tour, you’ll want to know where to go grab something to eat. Here are a few places we visited along the way and what they’ve got going for them:
Frankfurt Bakery & Deli (323 S. Governors Ave Dover, DE 19904): Hearty sandwiches on dense soft, fresh-baked bread
Odd Fellows Cafe (34 S. Main Street Smyrna, DE 19977): Their bread pudding is worth the stop.
Abbott’s Grill & Restaurant (249 NE Front Street Milford, DE 19963): Don’t let the exterior fool you. Four words (not including the conjunction): Calamari and Raspberry Ricotta ice cream.
For more information about the tour, visit www.GoodLibationsTour.com.