Though Bellview Winery was only established in 2000, its history is almost a century long. After immigrating from Italy, Angelo Quarella purchased the original 20-acre plot in 1914. Angelo named the farm Bellview, and worked its soil over the decades, all the while maintaining his own cellar of homemade wines. Jim Quarella, Angelo's great-grandson, would see the family farm expand to more than 150 acres, 40 of which are populated by swelling grapevines. The winery building still contains Angelo's original cellar.
Even after 100 years, the land is still good to the Quarellas. Its fruits go into each of the winery's 30 varietals, encompassing dry, semisweet, and fruit concoctions. Fistfuls of freshly plucked dandelions go into a family-recipe dandelion wine, the flower's wish-granting ability distilled down into a potent vintage. Bellview Winery offers something for everyone in a friendly and accessible environment. At the pastoral tasting room, visitors lounge under the shade in picnic seating, sipping at filled glasses and endlessly chomping the ends off cigars from the humidor before stopping at the gift shop.
Guided by wine connoisseurs-turned-creators, Auburn Road Vineyard & Winery bottles a passionate appreciation for fine wine into every vintage made on its secluded countryside property. Tours gather at The Enoteca, the vineyard's wine bar, before venturing out into the fields to see the green and purple bunches that start the oenophilic life cycle. Journeys continue to the barrel room, where rows of sealed oak casks rest and gradually transform their liquid stores into wine and corks into monarch butterflies. Tour-goers rest their feet and test their palates during the wine tasting back at The Enoteca as they comb the depths of varietals, such as the merlot reserve 2008, with velvety flavors of toasted vanilla and cherry, or the White Bottle chardonnay, a green-apple- and oak-infused drink named after the Beatles' White Album.
When Wagonhouse Winery owners Dan and Heather Brown were first starting their business, they were also starting a family. As the couple worked vineyards on land owned by generations of Browns, they raised three adorable boys?Dallas, Dawson, and Dower?honoring them with a specialty sweet-wine label. Visitors share in the family's joy with tastings, sipping cabs and chardonnays while snacking on cheese from Cherry Grove Farm. The rustic tasting room surrounds guests with dark varnished wood, rocking chairs, barrels, and a shuffleboard table, evoking the image of an old-timey colonial tavern or grandpa's secret man cave.
Home to a rousing lineup of award-winning wines, Sharrott Winery's passionate staff helps make the nuanced art of drinking wine more easily accessible. Located on 35 rolling acres, the winery and vineyard crafts a host of varietals from start to finish—tending to rows of grapes and fermenting the juices at their on-site facility. Samples of nectars such as the silver medal-wearing dry riesling or the trio, a grape trifecta that results in smooth notes of vanilla, lilac, and fresh cherries, are available inside the spacious tasting room, which overlooks the vineyard so grapes can mature before guests' very eyes.
When record amounts of water from Tropical Storm Henri ravaged Red Clay Valley, it left six historic bridges destroyed and reduced the 10-mile Wilmington & Western Railroad to a mere two miles. The railroad is no stranger to change—since officially opening for passenger and freight service in 1872, the approximately 20-mile track was gradually shortened before beginning to escort tourists on steam-powered jaunts in 1966. Through all its transformations, the rail has persevered, and its encounter with Tropical Storm Henri was no exception. By June 30, 2007, the track was restored and Royal Blue coaches followed a locomotive 98 for the first 10-mile journey on the track in nearly four years.
These days, Wilmington & Western Railroad's locomotives continue to follow Red Clay Creek on leisurely round-trip jaunts, romantic rides, and themed excursions. After their ride, youngsters can learn about railroading heritage with a series of online games, and individuals or groups can charter a train for subsequent travels to any destination along the line.