Members of the wine and spirits industry took a historic step on January 11 with the official formation of the Delaware Wineries Association, a 501c6 non-profit organization.

The primary objective of the organization is to broaden the market for Delaware wine and spirits. The organization will act by encouraging the production of high quality wine and spirits, and the regional cultivation of high quality grapes, fruit, grains and botanicals. The DWA will also take steps to increase the public's recognition of the Delaware wine and spirits industry, as well as establish, advance and maintain mutually beneficial relationships with local, state and federal government agencies and industry groups.

Two individuals involved with starting the DWA are Ron Gomes and Mike Rasmussen, owners of future Smyrna business Legacy Distilling. Their business expects to open in the spring on West Commerce Street across the street from Citizens' Hose Company.

Gomes is one of the founding members of DWA while Rasmussen has been elected the vice president.

"Today we made history by uniting in Delaware," said Charles R. "Chuck" Nunan, the organization's newly-elected president and a founding member of the board. "Our goal is to improve our industry, give it a voice and move it forward in Delaware," he added.

Nunan is owner and operator of Harvest Ridge Winery located in Marydel, Del.

Other officers and founding board members include: Adrian Mobilia, Second Vice President and Secretary, owner of Fenwick Shoals Wine Cellars in Fenwick Island, Del.; and Matthew Cimino, owner of Great Shoals Winery in Princess Anne, Md., which produces Black Twig Wine in partnership with T.S. Smith & Sons of Bridgeville, Del.

"We welcome members and associate members who will help us advance the interests of the organization," Nunan said. "We are also pleased to welcome our first associate member, Kent County Tourism, producers of the official Delaware Wine & Beer Festival."

The organization will have regular membership meetings, with strategic planning scheduled for later in the spring. For more information, contact the Delaware Wineries Association, (302) 492-8059.