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Wine: Sip your way to the beach

The Atlantic Ocean isn’t Delaware’s only liquid attraction. The First State recently launched the Delaware Wine & Ale Trail to feature its growing craft beer and wine industries.

The trail showcases the state’s three wineries and nine breweries (including Old Dominion Brewery, which started in Ashland, Va.) Most of the breweries include restaurants, so they make for a convenient and tasty stop on the way to the beach, and you can buy some good local brew for your time at the shore. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Delaware’s most famous export since Joe Biden, is included, offering its “off-centered ales for off-centered people,” whatever that means, and whoever they are.

Nassau Valley Vineyards, near Lewes, is also on the trail, showcasing Delaware’s wine history, which dates all the way back to ... well, to the early 1990s, when Peggy Raley managed to convince the state legislature to change the law and allow wineries to open. With grapes grown on sandy soils just a few miles from the ocean, she specializes in chardonnay and red Bordeaux varieties as well as some fruit wines.

“People will be able to get a real feel for the scenic beauty of our state and to discover many other great attractions,” Raley said of the wine and ale trail. The trail will be adding festivals and other events as the year progresses, she said.

Beach lovers who frequent Rehoboth know that town has become a minor culinary haven recently. That has led southern Delaware to christen itself the “Culinary Coast.” The Web site of Southern Delaware Tourism highlights culinary events and restaurant listings throughout the region, so you can plan your dinners out before you head to the beach. Six regional farmers markets in Sussex County, Del., are available for beach sojourners who rent apartments or homes with kitchens for their stay.

Of course, Maryland will try to divert your attention before you even reach Delaware. The Chesapeake Wine Trail (not to be confused with the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail, which focuses on wineries in Virginia’s Northern Neck) includes nine wineries on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, most conveniently located along US 50 along the way to Ocean City. (A few are further north along US 301.) And the trail keeps expanding, along with Maryland’s wine industry. Costa Ventosa winery is scheduled to open in mid-July in Whaleyville, near Ocean City.

So a beach trip this summer needn’t be just about sand and sunshine. You can eat and drink your fill along the way. Just be sure to drink responsibly. Maybe you’ll even get to the beach!

-- Dave McIntyre
(Follow me on Twitter.)

By The Food Section  |  July 1, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Beer , Wine  | Tags: Dave McIntyre, wine  
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