Hard Cider Puts Del. Fruit Back on the Map

6/1/2013 7:00 AM
By Michael Short Delaware Correspondent

BRIDGEVILLE, Del. — Delaware has a new hard peach cider.

The cider, perhaps the first of its kind in the nation, was unveiled on Friday, May 3 before an appreciative and thirsty audience.

Blazing Star is a mixture of approximately half peach and half apple juices blended to create the second in a series of hard ciders or sparkling wines by T.S. Smith & Sons, a fourth generation Bridgeville farm known for its orchards.

It’s an effervescent, light cider or wine created in cooperation with Matt Cimino and Great Shoals Winery.

Last spring, Black Twig Hard Apple cider began production. It’s also made in conjunction with Great Shoals Winery. The hard apple was a hit with consumers, making a peach follow-up a natural for the Smith family.

Delaware was once a major peach producer, although orchards have slowly waned in popularity while other products have become more dominant. “It wasn’t summer for a Delawarean unless peaches were part of their diet,” said State Rep. Dave Wilson, R-Bridgeville.

Dignitaries gathered at T.S. Smith’s on May 3 to taste and toast the new wine straight out of the bottle or mixed to make sangria. It was paired with fresh asparagus soup, grilled asparagus (cut in the T.S. Smith fields) and barbecue sandwiches.

It’s considered the latest effort to promote agritourism, an effort that appears to be paying major dividends in Delaware. For T.S. Smith & Sons, it’s the latest effort to diversify and seek new markets.

Long known for peach and apple orchards, Smith’s is working hard to promote farm tours, fresh apple cider donuts and alternative farm products like the two new wines. The farm is also known for its efforts to promote sustainable agriculture.

T.S. Smith is owned by three brothers and can trace its roots back to 1907. Today, only T.S. Smith and Fifer Orchards in Wyoming, are the major peach and apple producers in Delaware.

“You don’t have to be in Sussex County long . . . to know that tourism and agriculture are major drivers,” said Scott Thomas of Southern Delaware Tourism.

“It’s just an extension of Farm to Table,” said Greer Stangl of T.S. Smith & Sons.

Jay Caputo, a local chef, said the new wine goes well with pork barbecue sliders and spicy food. It also makes good sangria and is wonderful with vanilla ice cream.

Matt Cimino said that the wine is made with Blazing Star peaches and Ginger Gold apples. The apples are known for a crisp flavor while the peach variety has a strong, traditional peach taste.

They are fermented separately and then combined in roughly equal measure to create a cider with the taste of both fruits present.

“It really is just a natural partnership,” Caputo said of the efforts to marry local farmers with local restaurants. “It’s only been in the last 50 or so years that we have gotten away from buying local.”

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