Delaware Wine Overview

Delaware is one of our smallest states in land area, and most of the state is surprisingly rural considering its proximity to large cities and its location along the eastern seaboard. The climate here is quite moderate, with harsh weather generally tempered by the moderating effects of Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean farther afield.

In fact, Delaware is best known in travel circles for its prominent beaches located in the southern half of the state. Places like Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach attract throngs of vacationers seeking to catch some sun and surf in summer months. Inland from Delaware Bay, the state becomes quite rural and agriculturally based, particularly in the southern half.

The state’s first winery is Nassau Valley, located in Lewes, — just a few short minutes from Rehoboth Beach.

Perhaps due to its small size, grape-growing and wine production aren’t very prominent in Delaware. For many years, farm wineries were illegal in the state, something that has finally changed in the last twenty years. At present, there are only three wineries in Delaware but we expect that number to grow in upcoming years. Each of the wineries has their own adjacent vineyard and they report great success growing grapes. That grapes grow well here is not a surprise, as Delaware is surrounded by three states with thriving and robust wine industries — Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. In fact, the Brandywine Wine Trail is just across the Delaware-Pennsylvania border.

Delaware Wine Trail

The state’s first winery is Nassau Valley, located in Lewes, Delaware. It’s located just a few short minutes from Rehoboth Beach. Nassau Valley opened in 1993, and their adjacent vineyard produces a variety of grapes, including Merlot, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Fenwick Wine Cellars is located in West Fenwick, a tiny hamlet just west of Fenwick Island in the extreme southeast corner of the state, just a stone’s throw from the Maryland border to the south and the ocean to the east. The family who owns this winery has a long tradition of grape-growing and wine-making in the Lake Erie wine area in Pennsylvania.

Delaware’s newest winery is Pizzadili Winery, located in the town of Felton, just off Route 13 in the central part of the state. The vineyard and winery are on the same grounds, and the winery produces a wide variety of styles.

It’s entirely possible to visit all three Delaware wineries in one day. Or, you can combine visiting the wineries with a stop at one of more of Delaware’s breweries and brewpubs. The Delaware state tourism council recently developed the Delaware Wine and Ale Trail, which consists of the three wineries and ten breweries across the state. This is part of an emerging trend in wine trails, where kindred attractions or interests are grouped together into one trail. For states like Delaware with a limited wine industry, we think this is a great idea. It’s an excellent example of cross promotion for like-minded small businesses.

You can follow the Delaware Wine and Ale Trail and see the entire state. The trail runs from Wilmington, in the extreme northern portion of the state, all the way south to Fenwick Wine Cellars. One particular stop of interest for beer lovers is the well known Dogfish Head Brewery and their related brewpub.

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