Back where it began: Italian wine festival returns to Wilmington next month

Mayor Mike Purzycki (left) and Vendemmia Festival Chairman Ciro Poppiti formalize an agreement to return the festival to the Wilmington Riverfront.

Who makes the best gravy? (That's what many Italians call "sauce.")

Who can make the best homemade wine?

Games of bocce, and an attempt at the world's largest tarantella dance will also be among the highlights of the Vendemmia Italian Wine and Food Festival as it comes back to Wilmington this fall.

The deal was sealed with a celebratory toast Tuesday at the office of Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki. The festival left the city for other venues in the area in recent years.

"Vendemmia is coming back to the city where it belongs, and we couldn't be prouder to have them back," Purzycki said.

 "We think it's a crossroads event, and we are thrilled to be back where we started: Tubman Garrett Park," Festival Chair Ciro Poppiti added. Poppiti is also New Castle County Register of Wills.

According to da Vinci Society President Joe Richichi, the event has been happening since 2003. It relocated to a nearby state park and a hotel outside of the city in recent years.

Ticket proceeds will benefit charitable programs and scholarships. 

The Vendemmia Festival is adding a Dogfish Head beer garden, and it will feature an appearance by Dogfish founder Sam Calagione. 

"The culture at the event is breathtaking," Richichi said. "We will be offering all that exuberance of Italian camaraderie, famiglia, great food and entertainment."

"Everyone's Italian on Vendemmia Day."