As the fine winemaking phenomenon continues to flourish in Delaware, Maryland and southeastern Pennsylvania, there has been a concurrent bump in our appreciation of local cheeses, heirloom vegetables, breads, chocolates, charcuterie and canned goods—all produced by local farmers and food artisans.
While all of the wine-tasting rooms of the dozen-plus wineries in the tri-state area offer local wine and foods to sample and purchase, two are particularly devoted to it.
“We buy local cheeses for all our events and also sell them in our gift store and café,” says Lee Miller, co-proprietor of Chaddsford Winery. Her husband, winemaker Eric Miller, does special wine and chocolate tastings using Éclat chocolates of West Chester. “Eric also works with all the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture-type farm and sustainable ag groups,” Lee says, “and has set up many events over the years like his ‘Lessons from a Locavore’ classes in 2009.”
In its tastings, the smaller boutique winery, Va La Vineyards, pairs each of the four wines it serves with a regional cheese or chocolate. “Our regular cheeses, all local, include goat by Shellbark Hollow, wax cheddar by Oak Shade Cheese, Noble by Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op and blue by Birchrun Hills,” says Va La’s winemaker-owner, Anthony Vietri. “We sell them all, as well as chocolates by Neuchatel in Oxford.”
Local restaurants also get involved by catering special dinners and events at some wineries. The multi-restauranted Dan Butler often handles events at Paradocx Vineyard near Chadds Ford, ranging from summer barbecues to sit-down dinners.
Kreutz Creek Vineyards does a clever turnabout of the local BYOB scene. “At our West Chester tasting room, we offer our customers BYOF—bring your own food,” says co-owner Carol Kirkpatrick.
John and Alice Weygandt, owners of Stargazers Vineyard, partnered with Fat Spike Lavender Company of Kennett Square in planting a lavender garden next to their tasting room. They already sell Fat Spike’s locally made lavender oils and cosmetics there.
Drink local. Eat local. Now even smell local.