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Harvest Ridge Winery circles the chow wagons for our veterans

April 10, 2017

Last Friday and Saturday, 20 food trucks rolled out to Harvest Ridge Winery in Marydel for a great cause. These kitchens on wheels included Nothing Better, the Penalty Box, Truck It, Sussex' own Vanderwende Farm Creamery, Meat Wagon BBQ, Philadelphia's Plum Pit truck, Philly Fry, Mojo Loco, I Don't Give a Fork, Thyme To Eat, Delaware Provision Company, Delicious Craving, The Corn Exchange, The Wandering Chef, Cupcake Carnivale, Crave Eatery, The Polish Connection, Rebel Cove, Cajun-Sno, and Wilmington's popular WiLDWiCH. 

Quite a lineup (not to mention the world's longest run-on sentence). And it (the event, not the sentence) went to benefit two worthy causes: The local chapter of the Disabled American Veterans, and Hero-Hunts Foundation. The DAV serves 1.2 million U.S. military veterans who suffered disability while serving. The organization and its volunteers transport sick and disabled veterans to and from VA medical facilities for treatment, and offer education and counseling. The DAV receives no federal funding and relies solely on dues and contributions. 
The Hero-Hunts Foundation is the brainchild of Chuck and Chris Nunan, the owners of Harvest Ridge Winery. This year, they will host 10 military veterans on deer hunting expeditions in the local area, at absolutely no charge to the veterans. A couple of years ago, under the auspices of Operation Whitetail, Chuck volunteered to take in a vet, give him room and board, and take him hunting on his property. True to form for the affable winemaker, he even cooked the guy breakfast! When Operation Whitetail was disbanded due to the founder's health issues, Chuck picked up the baton (or, more appropriately, the rifle) and started his own foundation with a similar mission. Chuck tells me, "The men and women of the armed forces have given so much for the freedom of this country. This is my way of giving back to them." 

Nunan began making wine in his basement in 1995. After visiting a South Carolina vineyard in 2010, he and his wife Chris converted their Marydel farmland into Harvest Ridge Winery. Chuck, his family and their employees planted the first vines - Chardonnay, Viognier, Malbec and Merlot - in 2011. Delaware's fourth winery officially opened to the public Nov. 1, 2013. The property spans the border of two states - Delaware and Maryland - and is smack dab on the Mason-Dixon Line. One of the unique features is one of the Mason-Dixon's original witness stones and crown markers - number 47. In fact, that historic number is integrated into the winery's logo. 

Social media and online promotion manager Sofia Horvath reports that the thousands who attended this year's event voted Fifer Orchards (and those warm apple donuts!) first place in the sweet category. The Nothing Better Truck was voted No. 1 in the savory category. The panel of judges honored the Wandering Chef Catering Cart with the top prize, followed closely by The Plum Pit and Nothing Better. 

Never without an opinion (me?), my take for star of the show was the Quack Attack sandwich at Plum Pit (tender, smoked duck stuffed into a warm, yeasty roll with crunchy chicharrones, chipotle peppers and ... bacon (surprise, surprise). Sharing the top position was the Mac & Cheesesteak from I Don't Give a Fork (Philly steak, grilled onions and mac & cheese on a hoagie roll), followed by those ridiculous made-to-order caramel apple donettes (a mini donut - work with me here...) at Nothing Better. 

Chuck's goal of presenting the DAV with a brand-new vehicle was achieved – and then some! Harvest Ridge Winery is about 20 minutes west of Dover. Schedule a tour and hope that owner Chuck Nunan is your guide. He'll treat you the same way he treats his wines: Like family.

  • So many restaurants, so little time! Food writer Bob Yesbek gives readers a sneak peek behind the scenes, exposing the inner workings of the local culinary industry, from the farm to the table and everything in between. He can be reached at byesbek@capegazette.com.

    Masthead photo by Grant Gursky. Used with permission from Coastal Style Magazine.

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