Surrounded by peach trees and sunshine, T.S. Smith and Sons joined a Maryland winemaker and more than 40 officials to celebrate the release of Delaware's first peach brew.
Labeled a sparkling cider, but with bubbles reminiscent of a champagne-style wine, Blazing Star Sparkling Cider pairs T.S. Smith's Ginger Gold apples and Blazing Star peaches in the first hard peach cider of its kind.
"My job was to grow the peaches," said Charlie Smith of T.S. Smith and Sons. "We took a leap of faith in doing this and the initial response has been really positive."
Matt Cimino of Great Shoals Winery of Maryland said he and his father pitted each peach by hand.
"I don't know anyone else doing a peach hard cider," Cimino said. The winery also partnered with the farm last year to produce a hard apple cider, Black Twig.
The peaches and apples used in the hard cider were grown last year, fermented until dry in stainless steel. After both fermentations were complete the fruits were combined equally to create the final product, Cimino said.
The peach cider contains 8 percent alcohol by volume and is considered a sparkling wine, Cimino said.
Sen. Tom Carper said the economy in Sussex is bolstered by tourism and agriculture, and products like Blazing Star appeal to both industries because it creates jobs and an outlet for local produce and establishes a product that is marketed to visitors and residents.
"What we are doing here is adding value and diversifying the agriculture community," Carper said.
"One of the best ways to preserve farms and make sure we have farms 100 years from now is to make sure that farmers make money, and this is a great way to do it," Carper said.
Julie Wheatley of Sussex County's economic development office might have put it best, and she was the only one to put it to music.
Wheatley sang, "Fruitful, fruitful Blazing Star tastes like it's straight from the farm. Orchard-fresh for us to try. Ready for each one to buy."
Jay Caputo, executive chef of Espuma and Cabo in Rehoboth Beach and Rose & Crown in Lewes, introduced Blazing Star during the weekend of May 3 through sales at his restaurants.
Caputo said the dry, bubbly effervescence of Blazing Star pairs well with spicy foods like those served at Cabo and also goes well poured over vanilla ice cream.
Blazing Star is available in liquor stores across Delmarva and will be debuted in additional restaurants soon.
The event concluded with a tasting of Blazing Star and a sangria made with the peachy brew by senior mixologist Chad Ackland of Jay Caputo's restaurants.