September-October 2015 | FESTIVE ATMOSPHERE

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: The four-and-a-half-hour SoDel Festival will serve up a potpourri of national and local epicurean talent.
FESTIVE ATMOSPHEREFESTIVE ATMOSPHERECULLEN-ARY HOSTING: SoDel Festival host Paul Cullen with Event Chairman Stacy LaMotta.THE PLACE TO BE: The inaugural Southern Delaware Wine, Food & Music Festival takes center stage at Independence Hall in Millsboro on Oct. 17.FESTIVE ATMOSPHERE



Written By: Nick Brandi | Photographer: GRANT L. GURSKY

Save the date October 17, because that’s when the inaugural Southern Delaware Wine, Food & Music Festival takes center stage at Independence Hall in Millsboro.

The four-and-a-half-hour event begins at noon and serves up a cavalcade of national and local culinary talent. In addition to 2014 Food Network Rewrapped Champion Neil “The Singing Chef” Fuentes, James Beard “Rising Star Chef” Hari Cameron (aMUSE), Cornerstone Award winner Lion Gardner (Blue Moon) and Sean “The Pasta Whisperer” Corea (Nage), co-sponsor SoDel Concepts will be ably represented by Corporate Chefs Ronnie Burkle and Doug Rugley.
Event Coordinator Carlene Roche says the libations will certainly be on par with the food, with John McDonald and Level II Sommelier Mike Zygmonski of SoDel Concepts on hand to oversee a collection of palate-piquing fine wines. In all, more than 20 labels will be paired with the diverse cuisine of restaurants such as Abbott’s Grill, Bluecoast, Bramble & Brine, The Cultured Pearl, grandpa (Mac), JD Shuckers, Lupo Italian Kitchen, Michy’s, Palate, Semra’s, Summer House and Touch of Italy. Additionally, Sussex County craft brewers 16 Mile, Mispillion and Dogfish Head will be there, trotting out their best brews for attendees.

Former Bad Company bassist Paul Cullen (now personal chef, wine geek and guitarist) will host the event featuring marquee musical acts such as Manhattan Transfer founding member Erin Dickins, Lower Case Blues, Vinyl Shockley, Bryan Russo and Bruce Anthony.

“This is absolutely going to be not only the most exciting event of its kind in the region but also the one and only all-Sussex County event,” said Roche. “There’s going to be so much going on for people to enjoy.”

Among the attractions expected to draw crowds is affectionately dubbed “The Man Cave” by Roche and Event Founder/Chairman Stacy LaMotta. As the nickname implies, the venue will target the fellas but will cheerfully welcome all adults, with Pittsburgh craft-whiskey-distiller Wigle, a raw bar by JD Shuckers, a cigar station by Big Humidor and, all the way from Scotland, distiller Chris Riesbech of Benromach, who will come to the table with a medley of single-malt scotches sure to redefine the palates of even veteran scotch enthusiasts. “Best Bartender at the Beach” winner Rob Bagley and the folks from George’s Bloody Mary Mixes will be in the house as well, to make sure the good cheer keeps flowing.

There will also be a 100-point (95+) wine tasting, an exclusive gourmet cheese tasting (with wine accompaniment) from Touch of Italy, a free blind wine tasting by Mike Zygmonski and John McDonald’s free wine 101 seminar. Last but not least, award-winning vintner Manfredo San Bonifacio of Conti di San Bonifacio is flying in all the way from Tuscany to share some of his world-renowned wines, along with some personal anecdotes, with the festival’s eager oenophiles. Locally owned Sposato Family Vineyards will also be on hand pouring wines from their Argentinian vineyard.

“We can't wait to show off our top-notch local talent,” beamed LaMotta. “Now combine that with world-class talent and products from around the country and the globe, and one can easily see why this is going to be an unforgettable event.”

Festival proceeds will benefit End Polio Now and the Lewes-Rehoboth Meals on Wheels. General admission tickets for the first annual Southern Delaware Wine, Food and Music Festival are $75. VIP tickets are $160. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit or email

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