Discover Maryland’s Wine Trails
Maryland’s wine industry has experienced rapid growth over the past few years. So much so, I joke there is probably a vineyard a few blocks from you during Vino 301’s wine tours. Every county has a vineyard. Almost every county has a wine tasting room including Baltimore City. Yes, Baltimore city has a tasting room. Howard county is the only county that does not have a winery tasting room. Maryland’s wine industry growth is an impressive fact considering there were less than 30 wineries 20 years ago… now over 80.
Maryland’s vineyards and wineries are along seven wine trails. Over the next several weeks, Vino 301 will take a journey along each trail and highlight the splendor of each trail. Let’s discover Maryland’s wine trails.
Maryland’ Wine Trails
The Maryland Wine Association (MWA) established seven trails:
Antietam Highlands Wine Trail (Western Maryland)
Capital Wine Trail (Washington Beltway – Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties)
Carroll Wine Trail (Central Maryland – Carroll County)
Chesapeake Wine Trail (Eastern Shore)
Frederick Wine Trail (Central Maryland – Frederick County)
Patuxent Wine Trail (Anne Arundel County and Southern Maryland)
Piedmont Wine Trail (Central Maryland – Baltimore County)
Antietam Highlands Wine Trail
Antietam Highlands is Maryland’s westernmost trail. The trail’s name is inspired by the historical Antietam battlefields. The Antietam National Battlefields commemorates the American Civil War Battle of Antietam. The Trail spans from Deep Creek to Hagerstown. This region is ideal for growing grapes. It’s high elevations and cool evenings are the perfect for cultivating grapes. The grapes in this area is the source for many wineries in the state. Wineries throughout the state purchase grapes from vineyards in this area.
Although Antietam has ideal growing conditions, there are not many tasting rooms along the trail. A cidery and meadery are among the wineries. Similar methods of make cider and mead are share with wine making; and therefore included in Maryland’s winery count. The wineries are small in production and size, except for Big Cork Vineyard and Knob Hall Vineyard. They are the quintessential boutique wineries. Their wines are not widely distributed outside of the state. So, I encourage you if you find a wine you like buy it. It may be difficult to locate later.
The tasting rooms have limited staff. If you are travelling with a group, I would encourage you to call before you arrive. Do not let the size discourage you from visiting. You will receive personal attention and care. You will learn about about the winemakers’ philosophy and style.
There are many orchids in this region, so you can incorporate apple picking and other outdoor activities during your wine tasting adventures. Late summer and early fall are extremely scenic along the byways and hiking trails.
Capital Wine Trail
The Capital Wine Trail is the newest trail. The wineries are located Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. You can get the best of the countryside and urban experiences when you visit Montgomery’s wineries. Because Montgomery county borders the Nation’s Capital, people forgot there are agriculture areas in the County. The vineyards are in the northern part of the County. Rockland Farms, a traditional farm, added grapes to their farm. They began growing grapes and producing wine near Poolsville, MD.
But if you are not interested in traveling to the countryside, you can stay in the urban areas. Montgomery county wineries popularizes the “urban winery” concept. Wineries are in city centers like Silver Spring, MD. The grapes and juices are purchased from local and international vineyards. The wine is made onsite.
Maryland’s newest wineries are in Prince George’s County. The latest winery is opening fall 2017. Brandywine, MD is home to many of Prince George’s County vineyards. Former tobacco farms are now thriving vineyards. The wineries are close in proximity, so you can visit them all in the same day.
Chesapeake Wine Trail
The Chesapeake Wine Trail is the most diverse trail. The trail spans from the northernmost part of Maryland bordering Delaware and Pennsylvania to the southernmost part of the state bordering the Atlantic Ocean and Virginia. The climate and terroir vary in this region. Micro-climates exist producing very distinctive wines. Grape growers are able to achieve success with grapes, like Barbera, that are challenging to grow in the rest of the state.
Similar to the Antietam Highland trail, the tasting rooms are uniquely apportioned and charming. Many venues welcome visitors by appointment. Bordeleau Vineyards & Winery and Chateau Bu-De Winery & Vineyard are the exception and are large estates. People perceive the Eastern Shore as only a summer place to visit. However, the wineries and vineyards are opened year-round. There are so many places to see and to enjoy tastings. Take a long weekend trip along the shore to enjoy its diversity.
Our journey continues next week. We will discuss the other four trails. Join our mailing list to receive the Discover Maryland’s Wine Trail series.