Monday, July 9, 2012

Lake Erie Meets the Delaware Shore

 While driving along Rt54 into Fenwick Island Delaware, I noticed a parcel of vines planted in very sandy soils about 3 miles from the ocean. Looking around I saw a sign for Fenwick Wine Cellars across the street in a small shopping center. Could this be Delaware's third winery? Yes and no. Yes, the proprietors have planted Concord, Niagara, and Reliance on their farm; but no, the heavy work occurs in the family winery in Lake Erie, PA - Arrowhead Wine Cellars.

Adrian Mobilia was raised on a 200-acre farm growing grapes, apples, cherries, and peaches. After graduating from Penn State with a degree in Horticulture he helped his father Nick plant vinifera grapes and launch to accompany their existing labrusca and hybrid vineyards and launch Arrowhead Wine Cellars. He eventually met an Ocean City native and he and Shannon decided to replicate the family business on the Delmarva coast. They planted the estate vineyard in 2010 and will soon be able to determine if the fruit will tolerate the salt laden sandy soil. In the meanwhile the current Arrowhead wines are getting a makeover with Fenwick Wine Cellars labels. And that's quite a range of wines.

There is a wine for every taste from sweet to dry; red to white to blush, fruit wines, and even slushies. Yea, that's a product I'm really not a fan of - but evidently the tourists that flock to the seashore have other thoughts. I really enjoyed tasting through their entire portfolio - not a bad deal either - $5 to sample 23 wines. And that included plenty of labrusca and hybrids like the aforementioned Concord and Niagara plus Steuben, Catawba, Fredonia, and Vignoles. Each of these wines were exactly what you would expect from that grape and brought back many memories of Pennsylvania wine festivals. My favorite reds where the Chambourcin and Reilly's Red (Lemberger) - right on again with these grapes. For whites, the Riesling was made in a very drinkable semi-dry style; but I couldn't resist the Reflections of Fenwick (Vidal-Chardonnay) housed in the Italian made commemorative lighthouse shaped bottle. That's the Fenwick Island Light, built in 1859.  Yet the most fascinating wine is the High Tide/Port - produced exclusively from Concord (double fermented). First, you would never guess Concord was involved. No jammy grape flavors at all. Then, there is absolutely no burn because there was no fortification with grape brandy or grain spirits. Instead it has all the characteristics of a port - silky with plum flavors with a nutty finish. This wine alone is reason to return. Cheers.

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