VIENNA — The story of the economic recovery is bound to be a local one. As buying local is moving from quasi-fad to wise economic choice, small businesses all over the peninsula are rethinking the way they do business. Or rather, not so much the way but the attitude with which they proceed.
Small businesses, though legislatively wooed, are not yet the real focus of government assistance and access in the way their larger siblings are. Often over-regulated and underrepresented at the state and federal levels, they have to find ways to succeed all on their own. But to be honest, that’s why most small business started, the freedom and the responsibility that comes with making your own decisions and living with them.
It was with this attitude that four small local wineries — Fenwick Wine Cellars in Fenwick, Del. Costa Ventosa in Whaleyville, Bordeleau in Eden, and Layton’s Chance — began meeting a year ago, looking for a way to support one another.
While each of the wineries is part of their particular state’s or region’s wine trails, because of the political demarcations not all appeared on the same maps. People who followed the Chesapeake Wine Trail, for instance, might stop at Costa Ventosa having no idea how close they were to the Fenwick Wine Cellars.
The local vintners decided that, rather than wait for support they knew would never come, they should start to work together to support a Delmarva wine country separate from both the Delaware and Maryland wine trails and Four on the Shore was born.
Their first effort was the Shore Passport. Not unlike the passports in Maryland or Delaware, the Shore Passport is kind of a frequent flyer plan for the local wineries. After patrons have had a tasting at each of the wineries and had their passport stamped they were entered in a drawing. The winner receives two bottles from each winery.
As the Shore Passports grew in popularity, each of the vintners got a better handle on how their respective businesses related to the others. Encouraging guests to visit the others and making suggestions about which routes to take and talking about favorite wines became, if not standardized, at least a natural enough practice to build an even stronger wine community.
While each of the businesses have distinct wines, they all share a love as much for the wine-drinking culture as for anything else. Each on its own has successful small events wherein they get to show off not only their wines but also their abilities as hosts.
Next weekend the Four on the Shore wineries will inaugurate the Grape Blossom Festival on the vineyard at Layton’s Chance, which will also act as a kind of coming out party for the Four on the Shore winery group.
The Sunday afternoon event gives each of the wineries a chance to show of some of their best wines as well as provide attendees opportunities to get to know wines they might not yet be familiar with.
Each of the vineyards will bring at least five wines for attendees to sample and, like any other wine festival, there will also be wines for sale if you’d like to enjoy sharing a bottle while listening to the music and enjoying the sunshine.
Bryce Butler, a folk singer and student at Worcester Prep, will open the show and play several sets throughout the day. He’ll warm up the crowd for JohnE Wa2C, who plays beach country in the Jimmy Buffet vein.
The Layton’s Chance property was chosen as much for its location as it’s expansive property. The thrust of the Four on the Shore notion is to promote that fact that there is plenty of good local wine within a short car ride from pretty much anyplace in the region. Once it is clear how short a trip to Vienna is, especially in comparison with the quality of the wine, the hope is for each of the wineries to begin hosting more group visits as well as individual trips.
Unlike most wine festivals, however, the Grape Blossom Festival isn’t expected to be static. Inaugurated this year at Layton’s Chance it will rotate between the four wineries each year, eventually giving each a chance to show off their grounds as much as their wines. In the case of Layton’s Chance, the 12-acre vineyard is part of an 1,800 acre grain farm which includes 20 acres of nature trails winding through the property.
Chesapeake Bay Farms, another of the Berlin area businesses participating, will be one of the more than 20 vendors in the farm’s picnic area, where the festival proper will be held. While there is sure to be plenty of good food available for purchase, people are encouraged to bring their own as well.
Tickets to the Grape Blossom Festival are $15 in advance, $20 at the door and include a free wine glass and tastings of all wines. Children re welcome and there is no charge for guests under 21.Tickets are available at Costa Ventosa in Whaleyville, at the Fenwick Wine Cellars, in Fenwick or online at www.tinyurl.com/3cfovsy