Adrian Mobilia and his wife Jessica have found their agricultural niche in southern Delaware.
The couple purchased a 26-acre farm in 2015 where they built Salted Vines Vineyard & Winery which continues to grow every year.
But their stories don’t begin there. Both came from lifelong farming backgrounds. Mobilia is a fourth-generation farmer from Pennsylvania; His wife grew up on a wheat farm in Western Kansas.
“I was born and raised in a little town called North East, Pennsylvania,” he started to explain. “I grew up on a 200-acre fruit and vegetable farm. We had a very large year-round market.”
His family grew grapes, cherries, peaches, apples and tomatoes among other crops. The experiences he learned on the farm as a child and into his young adult years would help him lead his own family to success after moving to Delaware.
“In about 1994, I was graduating from high school and went to Penn State for a horticulture degree. That’s when E. coli hit. There was a farmer who would take all the apples from the ground, where woodchucks could get to them, mice and rats could bite them, or urinate and defecate on them, and we would use them for apple cider. This guy died from E.coli,” Mobilia recalled. “The whole apple cider industry got turned upside down. The insurance guy came to us and said they would no longer insure us if we didn’t pasteurize. And, if you do that, it’s no longer cider, that’s juice. So, we got out of the business and started making wine.”
That was just the beginning.
“We started pressing grapes and selling grape juice to about 100 wineries all around the eastern seaboard,” he said.
While the grape business was booming for the Mobilia’s, their apples were taking a turn for the worst as farmers in their area began purchasing a Zeneca product, now AstraZeneca, called Abound.
The Mobilia’s did not use the product, but their apples were affected due to micro drift as the product made its way to their property as the wind blew.
“It was the best thing ever for powdery, downy mildew. So grape growers everywhere were buying this. It was like the best thing since sliced bread. Everybody was buying it for their vineyards. Right about the same time, all of us with apple trees, they started to die. I was literally picking limbs off the trees and showing the college within three hours to try to figure out what was going on,” he said.
Abound turned out to be deadly to apples thanks to phytotoxicity.
“That was the big thing in my college days. I took on Zeneca and lost,” he said of the experience.
After a few years in the winery business and having completed his college degree, Mobilia was scouted by Cliffstar Corporation where he would travel the world to purchase fruit from farmers for private label fruit juices.
Nowadays, however, he enjoys a less traveled life as he works to grow Salted Vines Vineyard & Winery with his wife and crew.
“We typically have 200-300 people every Friday night and Saturday, sans COVID,” he said.
They host wine tastings to ensure their guests find the perfect wine for them before enjoying live music, food trucks and other offerings.
“Your first visit is a wine tasting. They get a tasting list, glass and pretzels. You can take notes and scientifically see the sugar content in our wines. The goal of the tasting is to give them a tasting in a controlled environment,” he said.
As a company, they also try to give back to the community with donations and activities, he added.
“It’s been really good, a lot of fun. We have a great staff. I like what we do and we like to find a way to get involved in the community and give back what we can,” he said.
Salted Vines Vineyard & Winery can be found online at www.saltedvines.com/behind-the-vines.html. Mobilia emphasized that visitors should check the website before coming to Salted Vines for up-to-date COVID-19 protocols, but they are looking forward to enjoying the company of their guests as Delaware begins to re-open.
To discover volunteer opportunities with the Delaware Farm Bureau and make an impact in the community, call (302) 697-3183.