Twin Branch may be the new kid on the block as far as wineries go but the property has a history of providing alcoholic beverages to the public dating back to the late 60’s when Blue Laws prevailed. A woman by the name of Bernice Harmon lived in a house that is now the foundation of the current tasting room. She resold beverages on Sunday’s and holidays to those that would venture out there.
According to the owner, Totum Farms’ Shauna Thompson, during the blue law years, Harmon would buy beer and alcohol, so people could come to her house and purchase. Thompson says that when Twin Branch became a reality, the basement was lowered, and the roof was raised. The current basement serves as storage for the wine.
The tucked away parcel of land near the Shamrock golf course is six feet above sea level making it an ideal location for growing grapes. The two branches of streams that border the property were the inspiration for the name – Twin Branch Winery. The first grapes were planted in 2013.
The entrance to the tasting room feels like a traverse down the Yellow Brick Road of Wizard of Oz fame, especially in the summer when tall corn stalks line the very long crushed shell driveway. One almost expects the Tin Man to pop out in front of the car. The speed limit is 10 miles per hour. If you visit, you will know why. There is an amusing sigh toward the end of the drive that says ‘Quit Wining! You’re Almost There.’ (The i’s are little wine bottles.)
The interior of the tasting room is crisp, clean, and modern with a cozy living room feel and an inviting fireplace, perfect for chilly-day tastings. The staff is personable and welcoming, perhaps in the style of Bernice greeting her guests back in the 60’s. The tasting menu is a bit more limited than other wineries in the area, but they all have interesting names. The six selections are: 2019 Whitney Chardonnay, 2019 TBW Chardonnay, 2017 Gratitude Rose, 2018 Blaize Pinot Noir, 2017 Peace Out Merlot and 2017 Envy Chambourcin.
Music prevails on weekends. Matt Lafferty of The Pros from Dover is a frequent performer. His wife, Tenley, serves up tastings at the bar. The duo Two Moore (as in Sean and Kelly Moore) is a regular. Music typically is from 2 – 5 pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
The owners have big plans, according to general manager Katie Hart. The current corn hole game and lawn bowling will be enhanced with a stage for musicians and fire pits for cooking. A limited food is available in the tasting room.
The patio right outside the Twin Branch tasting room is a good option when the weather cooperates. Entire families can gather. Twin Branch is dog friendly, too.
According to Thompson, the property itself constitutes about 27 acres that have been in the family for a long time. The winery also was a long time coming – about 20 years, she says. The newest addition makes Twin Branch the fifth winery in Delaware.
By Mary Jo Tarallo, Guest Journalist
Mary Jo Tarallo spent much of her career in public relations with various non-profits and spent 40 years involved with the ski industry as a journalist, public relations director for a national trade association and as executive director of the Learn to Ski and Snowboard initiative. Prior to her ski industry involvement she worked for the Maryland International Center in Baltimore and United Way of Central Maryland. She won a Gold Award for TV programming for a United Way simulcast that starred Oprah Winfrey. She has been cited for her work by numerous organizations. Mary Jo grew up in Baltimore, attended the University of Maryland.