Meadery – you know, honeywine. I wasn’t talking about a butcher’s meatery!

Sometimes I think about how living in Delaware there are things I miss out on.  (I’m talking about you, Ikea.  Why don’t you have a location in The Great State yet?)  One thing we just don’t have readily available are wineries.  We definitely have our fair share of breweries that are generally accessible statewide, but our pathetic three wineries (I haven’t visited any of them.  I know it’s a DelaDarling fail, but I’m saying the number is pathetic not the quality!) are all located downstate.

As I was lamenting this fact while nursing my wine crawl hangover on Saturday my friend came up with this brilliant idea: Continue the party into Saturday night by heading to a preview at the new Liquid Alchemy Beverages near Elsmere.

lab logo

Y’all know I love a good Saturday night tasting and that I love hanging out in Wilmington, so off I went!

In short, the owners and volunteers/employees were super cool, knew a lot about mead and even taught me a few things.  Even though I’d had mead before and knew it was honeywine, I didn’t know a lot of the specifics that really make it different than a traditional wine, so it was cool to get a behind the scenes tour!

We also did a tasting, and for a recently opened Mom & Pop shop I was blown away.  Of course, the mead was good and clearly the most important thing, but they had eight varieties available for tasting and purchase.  For a small scale hobby turned business that’s an impressive repertoire!

Even though I was finally coming out of my Saturday morning hungover stupor, I managed to try all eight varieties.  Just a sip each – possibly less alcohol than a swig of cough syrup!  (That being said, the hangover did keep me from remembering to take any pictures, but there’s always next time!)

My fav was the Red Cowabunga, “blended fresh Bing Cherries and Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans.”  Seriously, you guys, so good.  I likened it to a cherry vanilla coke.  I could honestly imagine making a sweet little ice cream float with this number – can’t wait!

My cousin Ashley raved about the Cosmo-Naughty, a classed up mead Cosmo, and her hubs Steve really liked the Thai-Grrr, a Thai Chili Pepper and fresh lime mead.  He even started working out some food pairings and a little recipe integration.

(Can you tell we’re foodies?  And that we LOVED Liquid Alchemy?)

Anyway, here’s the good stuff:

  • LAB is having their grand opening on September 10th.  Here is the FB event.
  • They have a little something for everybody when it comes to flavors, but be forewarned that in my opinion mead is sweeter than wine.  (It’s the honey!)
  • They’re total nerds.  You’ll see what I mean, but just look for the Dr. Who and Star Wars references…and other nerdy fandoms, and you’ll see what I mean.
  • LAB is almost located in an industrial park, which translates to sketchy from the outside, super cool on the inside.  Just double check for their sign out front!
  • Here’s an actually informational story at Delaware Online.
  • The only way to keep small and awesome businesses like this alive in Delaware is to visit and become a regular patron!  I know I’ll be heading back and already have an idea or two for Christmas gifts…
  • This post, while I’m sure was entertaining, really doesn’t do it justice, so you’ll really have to check it out for yourself.
  • I totally forgot to mention our rad tour guide.  I can’t remember his name, but shout out to the guy who teaches at A. I. Middle School; you were awesome and kept us laughing the whole way through!

How to Plan a Wine Crawl

Since one of my girlfriends is home visiting for the week, I’m taking the day off tomorrow to spend with all three of my high school lady friends!  What are we doing?  Winery hopping, of course!

planning a wine crawlOne of my favorite activities when I have the day to spend with friends is doing a winery crawl.  There’s a lot of enjoyment and it’s actually a very reasonably priced day.  Also, wine.

wine timeThat being said, I take pride in being able to organize a well-planned winery  crawl, providing minimal driving, maximum hopping and optimal wine-ing.  I’m not sure that’s a word, but when it comes to wine, anything goes!

Step 1: Choose a wine trail.

I always like to start with choosing the wineries I may like to visit.  Sometimes you can do this using an *official* wine trail and sometimes you can just make up your own.  It’s good to have about eight wineries on your trail list.  You’ll narrow it down later but you’ll want some options.

Example:  For tomorrow, I chose to work off of the Bucks County Wine Trail.  I’ve been to several of them (Am I the only one who keeps detailed Google Drive maps of where I’ve been?), but I still haven’t visited five of them.  These are located within a 2-hour drive of my house and are all relatively close together, so they make a great choice for a day-trip type activity.  We’re tentatively going to hit Sand Castle Winery, Buckingham Valley Vineyards, Wycombe Vineyards, Rose Bank Winery and Rushland Ridge Vineyard & Winery.

bg-map

Step 2:  Gather all the relevant data.

Not every winery is open for tastings every day or all day.  You’ll want to make sure that for the day you are planning to go, they’ll be open and available for tastings.  If you have a large group, you’ll also need to call ahead with plans, so be sure you get all the info now.

I like to list out all of my possible wineries, addresses and hours so that I have all of that information in one place.  (This is also a great time to check out tasting prices.  Most wineries around here are $5 per tasting, but some are more, some are less and some will waive the cost if you buy a bottle.  Guys, that’s like FREE WINE.  I love it!)

Pro Tip: Most of the smaller wineries have no or limited weekday hours.  Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are usually the most flexible, but also the most crowded!

Example:

WineryAddressFriday HoursTasting Price 
Sand Castle Winery755 River Rd, Tinicum Township, PA 1892010 am - 6 pm
Tastings on the hour
Not listed
Buckingham Valley Vineyards1521 Durham Rd, Buckingham, PA 1891211 am - 6 pm$5
Wycombe Vineyards1391 Forest Grove Rd, Furlong, PA 1892511 am - 6 pmFree on Fridays!
Rose Bank Winery258 Durham Rd, Newtown, PA 1894011 am - 5 pmNot listed
Rushland Ridge Vineyard & Winery2665 Rushland Rd, Jamison, PA 189293 pm - 6 pm$5 - cash and check only

Step 3: Check the map.

After you have all of the information you’ll need, you’ll want to see how far apart the wineries are from each other and which ones are closest/farthest from your starting and end points (in case they’re different!).

Step 4: Reorganize based on the map, driving times and winery hours.

An awesome feature in Google maps is that you can just click and drag your destinations to rearrange them.  I like to play around with this in order to minimize the driving time by truly following the wineries in a trail.  You’ll want to keep in mind their hours though.  In my case, I knew we should probably end at Rushland Ridge because it doesn’t open until 3 p.m.  On the other end Sand Castle opens at 10 a.m., so it made sense to start there.

Pro Tip:  I always think it’s best to start with the winery farthest from your end point and end with the one closest to your end point.  You won’t mind the longer drive early in the day, but when you’re done, you’ll just want to get home ASAP.

Step 5:  Create a loose timetable.

From my many wine crawls, I’ve found that I typically spend about 45 minutes in each location.  With that I either work backward or forward to make sure I’m able to hit each one as I intended.  I also like to schedule a “lunch” break at the third stop.  It’s really important to keep your BAC in mind if the driver is going to be tasting and it’s really important to make sure you’re eating!   A lot of wineries will have a cute patio, deck or porch where you can sit and eat while looking out over the scenic vineyard.

Be sure to schedule in an appropriate amount of driving time as well.  I like to round up to the nearest 15 minutes when I’m scheduling as I think this typically gives enough leeway.

Example:  Since we can’t really arrive at Rushland Ridge until 3 p.m. I worked backward from there!  In order to hit all five we have planned, we’re planning to depart Wilmington around 9:30.  Even though we have five wineries planned, we may only hit four.  If you’re tired or just don’t feel up to it, don’t feel like you have to pack it in!

Step 6:  Pack your bags and make moves.

Whenever I’m headed out for a wine crawl, I make sure to have a bag with everything I’ll need to get me through the day.  This includes snacks (I’m a fan of pretzels, crackers and cheese, apples and grapes), non-alcoholic drinks (water or unsweetened iced tea are my go-tos), car games/activities if it’s a long ride, an awesome playlist for the drive, reusable wine carriers in case I decide to purchase any bottles and my list with addresses and other info I may need.  Since there will be four of us on our outing tomorrow, we’re each going to bring a snack to share!

Pro Tip:  Be sure to check what forms of payment you might need.  One of the wineries on our schedule only accepts cash and check.  Since I usually don’t carry cash, I need to make sure I have enough to cover that stop!

Example: I like to stock up on treats from Trader Joe’s so that we’ll have something inexpensive and (relatively) healthy to eat while we’re out.  Since we’ll be breaking for lunch I like to bring the Trader Joe’s Broccoli Slaw and Kale Salad with Chicken.  Seriously, it’s a great lunch option and I usually have enough to share with a friend.  Also, you just can’t beat the price at $3.99!  (This isn’t sponsored.  I just really love this salad and Trader Joe’s as a whole.)


It may seem like a lot of work on the front end, but I promise it’s worth it when your entire crawl goes smoothly and you have a plan before you start!  Good luck on your next wine adventure!


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Quarter Life Crisis

For those who don’t know, I turned 25 last week.  That’s right.  S*!t just got real.

Seriously, this birthday was the hardest one I’ve had, but not because I’m having a crisis.  I think that all of the changes from my 24th birthday to now (moving out of my parents’ house, saying goodbye to my dog, preparing to buy a house) have just added up to indicate that I’m really adulting now, but I still feel like I have so far to go.  I mean, I still only do my laundry every other month or so…

I snapchatted everyone I invited early on to show them how much fun they would have. (I really did this.)

 

 

Anyway,  over the weekend I got together with friends to commiserate celebrate my birthday and my plans could not have worked out better.  I had decided to have a “quarter life crisis” bar crawl, hitting five of my favorite spots in Wilmington and inviting pretty much anyone I know who lives in driving distance.

My wonderful parents and my uncle & aunt

 

 

 

 

 

I locked in a few people who would be with me for the entire thing, from 4 p.m. until last call which worked out well, but I also had a lot of stragglers who came for happy hour appetizers and drinks (mom & dad!) and some who came out later for after dinner bar hopping.

We hit Ernest & Scott, Chelsea, Anejo, the Taphouse and Hummingbird.  I hadn’t been to Anejo in a while and I seriously had forgotten how good their empanadas are.  But really, don’t walk; run there right now.  Forget Taco Tuesday, Empanadas Everyday!

Two of my friends from wayyyy back in middle school – can you believe it?

 

 

 

I definitely recommend taking the bar crawl route as a fun birthday event out.  I loved getting to spend time with all my friends and family and showing them my favorite hot spots in my favorite city!

(Also a quick happy birthday to Dara who is celebrating her quarter life crisis today!)