Vino 301’s 5th Year Anniversary
Happy Anniversary to us! It’s our 5th year anniversary. Thank you for supporting us over the past five years. We have had a great time creating memories with you. We appreciate you and look forward to sharing more laughs, more adventures and a lot of wine. We have new activities planned for you this year.
Giving Back To Our Community
Vino 301 offered discounted tours or events to demonstrate our appreciation in prior years to celebrate our anniversary. This year we are celebrating our anniversary differently. We appreciate you more than ever. We are grateful for you uplifting us, so we want to uplift others. Vino 301 is showing our gratitude by giving back. A dollar from each regional wine tour, Chocolate and Wine tour, and Wine, Beer & Spirits tour ticket sold will be used to purchase food for The Bowie Interfaith Pantry and Emergency Aid Fund this year. The Bowie Pantry provides emergency food and financial aid to residents in Prince George’s County. From Vino 301’s the beginning, we have always expressed our passion for supporting local vintners, farmers and businesses and we are sharing our passion by assisting our community. If you wish to donate food or funds to the Bowie Pantry, visit Bowie Pantry website.
We have a lot instore for you this first half of the year. More wine packages, and tour experiences!!!
February – We are celebrating National Drink Wine Day on February 18. It is a real holiday. This holiday celebrates wine drinkers and everything that is good about wine. It is only right that we observe this national holiday at a wine bar. Vino 301 Wine Concierge is hosting a social at Red, Red Wine Bar(Annapolis, MD) on February 18 from 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm. Join us and enjoy wine flights and light hors d’oeuvres. More information, click here.
March – March is Maryland Wine Month. Vino 301 is pairing cheese with Maryland wine. Wine and Cheese tour is a new specialty tour. We partnered with Romano Vineyard and Winery and P.A. Bowen Farmstead. Romano’s finest wines will be paired with P.A. Bowen Farmstead (Brandywine, MD) award-winning raw milk artisan cheeses. This wine tour will take you to Romano Vineyard for the cheese pairing. Your next destination will take you to one of southern Prince George’s County local vineyards (Robin Hill Farm & Vineyards, JaneMark Winery &Vineyard, or Gemeny Winery & Vineyard). More information, click here
April – The girls are out of here! Girlfriends Getaway takes you to Inn Boonsboro (Boonsboro, MD). Spend the weekend at famed novelist, Nora Roberts, bed and breakfast. Girlfriends Getaway is a weekend adventure that includes two-night stay at the Inn Boonsboro, wine tour with lunch, evening happy hours, yoga class, and much more. Stay tuned for more information.
May – Shopping is blooming in May. Sip and Shop is an afternoon of sampling selected fine wines, enjoying delectable appetizers and shopping. W by Worth clothing, high-quality women’s fashions, will be on display for a fun shopping spree – hassle-free with personalized service. More details are coming.
June – Vino 301 is headed for the water in June. We partnered with Atlantic Kayak Company. Take a Twilight Kayak tour along the Mattawoman Creek. There’s nothing more relaxing and engaging than spending time on the water. Leave the crowded streets and bike paths behind, and go on a kayak adventure! Top off your evening with a wine and cheese pairing. More details are coming.
Thank you again for five wonderful years. See you along the wine trails.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle and Still Drink Wine
Wine has several health benefits. A few rewards are that it contains antioxidants, flavonoids that promote heart health, it slows the aging process, and it decreases your chances of getting chronic diseases. If wine is so great why do many modern diets discourage you from consuming wine? Perhaps, dieters over indulge and dietitian recommend removing it rather than encouraging moderation. Dietitians consider wine as having “empty” calories and those calories could be better used elsewhere. Nonsense! Wine can give you a weight lost boost. According to researchers, red wine contains a chemical called ellagic acid. Ellagic acid slows the growth of existing fat cells and prevents the growth of new ones. So, do not give up your wine. You can incorporate healthy simple tactics in your every life so you can continue to enjoy wine. Here are a few approaches on how you can maintain a healthy lifestyle and still drink wine.
Use a Smaller Wine Glass
My wine glasses are huge. They could be mistaken for portable wine tanks. Easily, these glasses could hold 20 ounces. I wanted to do my part in ending global warming. So, I bought them to conserve energy by only pour myself one glass of a wine a day. (Anything to help a cause.) However, these glasses are not recommended to sustaining a balance diet. It sounds crazy, but the size of your wine glass influences how much wine you pour. Experts suggest drinking a maximum of 5 to 6 ounces of wine daily. When you pour 5 ounces in a 20-ounce glass it looks like a drop in the bucket. You tend to pour more because it appears to be smaller than it looks. But, when you pour 5 ounces in an 8-ounce glass it looks like a lot of wine. Remember: the smaller the glass the bigger the pour appears.
Count Your Ounces
A glass of wine at a restaurant is at least 40 percent more than your at home pour. The average restaurant serves between 9 to 11 ounces. You have exceeded your daily allowance with one glass of wine when you dine out. Most people have two glasses of wine when they dine out. That is 18 ounces or over half a bottle of wine. You can avoid this by asking for a half of pour. Most places are happy to accommodate you.
Avoid Drinking on an Empty Stomach
Would you have the fastest time for arriving at home from work to pouring yourself a glass of wine? Would you be gold medalist? I would medal every time! I would set Olympic records. This is a practice many people do. They pour themselves a glass of wine while they are unwinding down from the work day. They may have a glass when they are preparing dinner. Experts discourage drinking before you eat. Your appetite increases when you drink on an empty stomach. Alcohol is an appetite stimulant. You will eat more and make poor food choices when you drink 30 minutes before eating. Saving your wine for your meal. You can also try pre-planning your food options. Have healthy snacks like fresh fruit, popcorn, or hummus available while you are preparing your dinner or to snack on after a long day.
When you are tipsy you underestimate your food consumption and overeat. Avoid this by drinking water. Drinking water increase that full feeling. Drink a glass of water between glasses of wine. You should drink at least 8 to 12-ounces. This will also have an effect on your blood alcohol level. Your blood alcohol level will gradually increase, instead of rapidly escalating. Water will not prevent you from getting drunk, but it will slow the process.
Try these few actions and, you will see a difference in your lifestyle.
Holiday Wine Cocktails
Holidays are a time for celebrations and entertaining. Entertaining is always so much easier when you can prep in advance and stay out of the kitchen. Having cocktails prepped limits your need to bartender. Here are two cocktail recipes you can make prior to your guests’ arrival. The best thing about these recipes is that wine has been substituted for spirits. Using wine instead of spirits lowers your entertainment cost. Wine cocktails recipes are easy, and inexpensive. Sip, enjoy and repeat. Happy Holidays!
Serves 10- 12 people
2 cups Fresh Cranberries
1 cup Orange Juice
1/3 cup Sugar
1 Tsp Cinnamon
4 cups Pinot Grigio
¼ cup Grand Marinier©
Orange Slices and fresh Cranberries for garnish
Note: Please do not buy an expense Pinot Grigio. If you want to substitute the Pinot, use a white wine with a medium – high acidity level. Avoid oaky Chardonnary
Serves 10 – 12 people
1 cup Pomegranate seeds
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Water
1 bottle Sparkling Wine
Rosemary sprigs for garnish
Note: Please do not buy an expense sparkling wine.
Cheers! Toast to the holidays. Enjoy your friends and family.
Red Wine Hot Chocolate
Snow days are fun to try Pinterest recipes you always wanted to try, but never do. Yesterday’s snow day was no exception. There is a red wine hot chocolate recipe that looks so good. You add red wine to creamy hot chocolate. Ummm, chocolate and wine!!! This recipe is my cooking bucket list. A snow day was the perfect day to make a decadent, warm beverage.
The original recipe calls for dark chocolate chunks, red wine and milk. Good right!?! Reading the recipe I anticipated there may be problems. Dark chocolate is a heart healthy candy. This is the chocolate doctors recommend you have daily. It has potent antioxidants similar to red wine. Dark chocolate is bitter and the lest sweet chocolate. This is why it pairs well with red wine, likes with likes. Red wine’s high tannin level puts it on the high end of the bitter scale. The combination is normally a perfect pairing, but not for hot chocolate. Hot chocolate is sweet. The recipe needed sugar. It is too savory. The recipe needs a “Fashion Emergency” makeover. I answered the call of duty.
Here is the recipe makeover:
Snow Day Delight: Red Wine Hot Chocolate
12 oz Milk
6 Tablespoons Hot Chocolate Mix. Use a mix that requires milk.
4 oz Cabernet Sauvignon (to taste)
Whip Cream (Optional)
Chocolate Shavings (Optional)
Hints: This is not a dieter recipe. Recommend using 2% or whole milk.
The Best Glass to Sip Sparkling Wine
Sipping Champagne evokes thoughts of luxury, style and elegance. It is the beverage exclusively served to kings and queens at a moment in history. It is the Maserati of the wine world. Champagne or sparkling wine has always been in a class by itself. It is elite and legendary. Even its glassware has a fabled history. The vintage coupe glass, first Champagne glassware, was rumored to be inspired by French queen Marie Antoinette. The first modern glassware was actually designed in England in the 16th century according to Wikipedia and later made popular by the French in the 1700s. Sparkling wine glassware was to modeled to display its delicate bubbles. As sparkling wine has evolved, so has how people enjoyed sparkling wine. The vessel which sparkling wine is poured into has changed over time. When sipping sparkling wine does the style of glass matter? What is the best glass to sip sparkling wine?
The allure of sparkling wine is the carbonated bubbles. The second fermentation process creates carbonation delight. When sparkling wine is well chilled the carbon dioxide is slowly released creating a symphony of tiny bubbles. You want the perfect glassware to prolong the gentle stream of bubbles. Glass Matters!!! Let us examine the popular glassware.
Coupe is also known as the vintage Champagne glass. It is a saucer design wine glass with a wide bowl and shallow shape. It was popular in the early 20th century. During that time a sweet syrup was added to Champagne making a dessert delight. As Champagne drinkers’ palate moved towards a drier style wine, Champagne dessert lost its fizz. So, did the Coupe. Bubbles quickly disappear in the Coupe glass. The shallow bowl design permits aromas and bubbles to escape quickly due to the large surface area. In English, this means your sparkling wine will go flat very fast. Do not throw away your Coupe glasses if you are nostalgic. You can use these glasses for desserts or cocktails.
Bubbles, bubbles and more bubbles. If bubbles are important to you, you will love the Flute style. The Flute slender bowl design is made to capture the carbonation at the bottom of the glass and the bubbles rapidly rise to the rim of the glass. Fizz, fizz and fizz again. The Flute gets an A++ for fizz, but a C- for capturing flavors and aromas. Its small rim circumference restricts smells to collect and develop. Flavors and aromas are lost as a result. According to wine experts, this is problematic when tasting older wines or complex wines. Older wines need more air space to develop and its flavors to appear in the wine tasting experiences. Isn’t this true for all of us maturing. We need a little more space and time to express ourselves.
The Flute traditional has a long stem for drinkers to hold the glass. Modern or trendy Flutes are stemless. Stay traditional. Sparkling wine is best when it is served well chilled. Chilled sparkling wines are between 41 – 46 degrees Fahrenheit (6 to 7 degrees Celsius). You want to avoid holding the glass by the bowl. Your hand will warm the wine when you hold the glass at the bowl affecting the temperature.
If you are clutching onto your Flutes, refusing to get rid of them and ready to boycott Vino 301’s blog, wait! Here is a compromise. Try a Tulip glass. Tulip glasses are similar to flutes but permits more air space. Tulip glasses have a similar slender base but the bowl gradually increases in width giving it a wider rim. You are able to maintain the wine fizz, while capturing aromas. This style is preferred by more professional wine tasters.
White Wine Glass
There is a movement in the wine world to use classic white wine glasses for sparkling wine tasting. Yes, you heard me correctly, white wine glasses. But what about the sophistication, the elegance, the exclusivity? Sparkling wine is not your everyday Moscato, you say. We hear you. The argument is sparkling wine is more diverse, more complex than it has ever been. It should be treated more like “real” wine. Sparkling wines are extremely complex and need a larger bowl for its aromas to present themselves. The flavors will be accentuated and can breathe in a larger glass like white wine glass. Using a white wine glass will not diminish Champagne’s mystic or character.
Glass matters based on your needs. Select the wine glass for what best suits your desires. Personally, the Tulip glass is my favorite. Do what works for you. Cheers to you!
2017 Wine Gift Giving Guide: Jaw Dropping Gifts
“What do you want for Christmas?” are the six words that always stop me in my tracks. Not because I am a scrooge or I do not like exchanging gifts. On the contrary, I love the holidays and giving gifts to friends and family. I love the look of joy and the smiles a perfectly selected gift brings. Well then, why does “What do you want for Christmas?” bring on temporary paralyze? It is stuff. The thought of having more stuff. I don’t want more stuff. Stuff adds clutter to my overly generous furnished home. I prefer to give experiences to people. Something they hopefully enjoy doing, which will create lasting memories. The jaw dropping gifts list is composed of items or experiences that will create memories for your wine lover.
WineCream is homemade ice cream and wine. The WineCream creators did the impossible. They made dessert better. They improved everyone’s frozen dessert by adding wine. Located in Baltimore City, WineCream has a tasting room where you witness their unique process of making the ice cream and delight in tasting their fruity wine ice cream. You can schedule private tastings. Your visit includes a tour of the historical industrial building, ice demonstration and a tasting. They have seasonal flavors like Apple Pie, Caramel Pie and Peach Cobbler. You taste between 4 and 6 ice creams. If you not interested in the onsite tasting, WineCream does ship locally. $15 for tasting fees, $14.99 pint of ice cream (Shipping not included) purchased online WineCream
Make Your Own Wine
While sipping a glass of Pinot Noir do you ever say to yourself, “I could make this”? We found a place that allows you to get your wish. The Urban Winery (Silver Spring, MD) offers wine making classes. Here is your chance to show off your inner winemaker. You can geek out over the whole wine making experience. The wine classes are small… you and 5 of your favorite people are the average size group. It is a two part experience. During your first visit, you select the varietal and make the wine with the resident winemaker. About 10 – 14 weeks later, you go back to The Urban Winery to bottle, cork and label your wine. When it is all said and done, you make approximately six gallons or 3 cases of wine. Call or email The Urban Winery to book your event $500 – $700 per group
29 Bottle Wine Cooler
A couple years ago my brother gave me a wine chiller refrigerator for Christmas. He immediately became my favorite brother. (By the way, he is my only sibling). It has the dual temperature settings for white and red wines. It is conveniently stored in my basement where I cellar my wine. The chiller’s compressor cycles, as a result it can be a little loud and expends a lot of energy are the only draw backs. I heard similar concerns expressed by other chiller owners. So, when NewAir contacted me about testing their 29-Bottle Black Stainless Wine Cooler, I had reservations. How could this be different then my current wine frig? In the name of wine, I gave it a try.
Immediately, I noticed NewAir 29 wine bottle cooler is a fourth slimmer than mine. Interesting. It holds the same number of bottles, but it is slimmer. The cooler is a sleek black stainless-steel model. It is perfect for people who do not have a lot of space, but need to accommodate at least two cases of wine. It has similar functionality, like dual temperature controls and adjustable wood rack trays, as in my current one. However, it is noticeably quieter. I did not hear the compressor cycling. NewAir is energy efficient. An unexpected surprise, was the lock. I can secure the cooler. This feature is great for people with kids and keeping wine in the “right” hands. I hope I do not lock myself out. I look forward to filling my new wine cooler and the new experiences each wine bottle will bring. The nice people at NewAir is offering a discount to Vino 301 followers. Use code VINO for 20% off the NewAir AWR-290DB-B Black Stainless Wine Cooler when you are purchasing online. $829.95 NewAir.com
Wine & Cheese Tour
Cheese frequently comes to mind when you think of serving wine. So why not have cheese during your wine tour? Vino 301 is offering a Wine and Cheese tour in 2018. Your adventure begins with a cheese and wine pairing, where Romano’s finest wines will be paired with P.A. Bowen Farmstead (Brandywine, MD) award-winning raw milk artisan cheeses. Romano Vineyard and Winery produces handcrafted award-winning wines from their estate grown grapes and grapes from custom growers. PA Bowen make award-winning raw milk artisan cheeses, and we are a pasture-based sustainable farm. Your next destination will take you to one of southern Prince George’s County local vineyards (Robin Hill Farm & Vineyards, JaneMark Winery &Vineyard, or Gemeny Winery & Vineyard). $115 per person. Wine & Cheese Tour
Wine Stocking Stuffers and Small Presents
People who drink wine, love wine, practice at the altar of Cabernet Sauvignon are the easiest people to buy gifts for. You give them wine. Wine never goes out of style. It is always the perfect fit. Wine is what you get a wine lover. But, sometimes you want to add a little something else to the gift bag. Here are some inspirations to get the gift giving juices flowing. Below are a few wine stocking stuffers and small presents you can include with your wine gift.
Homesick Maryland Candle
Homesick candles caught my eye immediately. The state inspired labels stood out. Homesick’s designers created state specific labels for each of their candles. Yes, there is a Maryland candle. Beautifully simple, the label is a silhouette of Maryland. The Maryland candle is lightly scented and burns evenly. It is not a travel candle, but I take mine with me. It is calming and reminds me of home. You can order online at Homesick Candles or pick up one at the Annapolis Pottery. $29
Annapolis Pottery was offering a honey tasting when I purchased my Homesick candle. Intrigued by the different flavors, I had to try the honey. Bourbon, cinnamon, chipotle, chocolate, salted honey are some flavors available. Cloister Honey is the caviar of honey. It takes honey to the next level. The honey can be poured over cheese. The Bourbon honey is especially delicious when you serve with Brie. The honey is also spreadable. Yes, I said spreadable. The cinnamon can be spread on toast. These honeys are an excellent addition to a cheese plate. You can purchase single 3oz honey pot or a customize a set of three at Annapolis Pottery. $8 per honey pot.
Fall Splendor Gift
Capital Gift Baskets assembles the most amazing gift baskets. Lauri Willamson, Capital Gift Baskets owner, adds the personal touches that evokes Oooos and Awwws. Fall Splendor Gift is a wine lovers delight. The basket has right touches of crunchy parmesan bruschetta crisps with smooth gourmet brie cheese spread and Sweet on the Bubbly’s strawberry and champagne jam. A porcelain tapas plate with silver spreader adds to the celebration. Almonds and Zoe’s delightful chocolate truffles make this gift complete. Capital Gift Basket is a local company that can ship throughout United States. $85 (Shipping to US addresses included)
Wine Nots is the latest magician in making wine tongue disappear. Do you know what is wine tongue? Wine tongue is when your tongue and mouth is stained by red wine. Wine Nots effervescent tablets are placed on your tongue. It fizzes and in seconds your mouth returns to its normal color. Red wine stains are GONE! There are 12 tablets in each box. Get a few boxes and place in your favorite red wine lover stocking. Available at Wine Nots or Amazon.com $9
Wine Glass Markers by the Best of Lucy
Throw away your wine charms! Wine charms are nice, even cute but you never had enough for everyone at a party. There is always enough Wine Glass Markers. You and your guests can write your name on your wine glasses, so you do not confuse glasses. The markers are available in multiple colors, usually five markers in a box. The ink does not stain your glass and easily removable. You can purchase them on Amazon or upscale home goods store. $6.99
Vino 301 Tees
When Vino 301 Tour Ambassadors are bouncing to vineyard to vineyard they are frequently asked, “Where did you get your shirt?” Keep Calm and Take A Wine Tour and Got Vino? Tee-shirts are our most popular shirts. Make sure your wine lover is properly adorned when they are enjoying their favorite grape. The Vino 301 shirts are available in a variety of colors and sizes (S, M, L. XL, XXL). Available at Vino 301 website $22.
Wine Tasting Notebook
Does your favorite wine lover have to share with you the color, nose, palate and all of his tasting notes before he can enjoy his wine? I have the perfect gift for you! Give him a notebook to record his thoughts. Steve De Long published the Wine Tasting Notebook It is a pocketsize notebook and wine guide. Your wine lover can record their tasting notes while learning how to taste wine like a professional. Vivid graphics, wine tasting terms and how to taste wine is included in the notebook. After using this notebook your wine lover will be a Master of Wine. Available at DeLongwine.com or Amazon.com $7.95
5 Wines You Must Try This Fall
Fall appeared to sneak up so quickly. Summer was just here, long sunny days and warm evenings. Before you know it, the leaves are changing and the nights are longer. Fall was here without warning. Fall is definitely here. Just like the seasons are transitioning, people are transitioning to earthier, spicier and fuller body wines. We found wines that will make your transition to fall easier. Here are five wines you must try before fall ends.
Rocky Shoals, Slack Farm (Leonardtown, MD)
There is never a bad time to have sparkling wine. Have a tough day at work; have a glass of sparkling. Win the lottery; have a glass of sparkling. It is 4:00 pm; have a sparkling glass of wine. See what I mean, never a bad time.
Slack Farm’s Rocky Shoals sparkling wine is always good to enjoy. Fall is a better time of year to enjoy this cranberry red color, demi-sec sparkling wine. You are immediately greeted with a lot of fuzz and mellows to a mild effervesces. There are fruity notes of strawberries and raspberries on the nose. You will enjoy tart cherries and rhubarb on the palate.
Zuccàto Pumpkin Spice, Mount Felix Vineyard & Winery (Havre de Grace, MD)
In this season of pumpkin spice this and that, it is not surprising there is a pumpkin wine. Someone had to do it. Pumpkin wine sounds odd and gimmicky. But, it is not. Trust me. Zuccàto wine puts you in the mood to go to the pumpkin patch or visit the apple orchard. Its color is striking, brilliant autumn gold. Clove, nutmeg are the spices you smell. The spices are more pronounced when you taste the wine. You also get hints of applesauce on the palate and baked bread. This is a seasonal wine. Mount Felix only produces this wine this time of year and it sells out every year. Do not wait to try it.
Peach Kissed, Harford Vineyard &Winery (Forest Hill, MD)
Why are we recommending a peach wine in the fall? Shouldn’t we wait until the spring to discuss peaches? Its name, Peach Kissed, leads you to believe it is a light airy wine. By its name, it is expected that it is a sweet wine. Its name is deceiving. It is not a fruit wine. It is a wine that has hints of peaches. It is not a sweet wine, but an earthy wine. The wine is pale straw color. What is most striking are the spice flavors, you would enjoy in a warm peach pie. The finish lingers in anticipation for your next sip.
2015 Concerto, Harmony Vineyards and Winery (Baltimore County)
Harmony Vineyards is one of Maryland’s lesser known vineyards because it does not have a public tasting room. However, if you frequent Baltimore restaurants or Mills wine store Harmony wines are very popular. I stumbled upon Harmony’s Concerto at Mills and I am happy I did. Concerto is a blend of Merlot 66%, Cabernet Sauvignon 22%, Petit Verdot 5%, Barbera 4% and Syrah 3%. Aged in 18 months in new and old French oak. It is the perfect wine to serve at Thanksgiving dinner or sip by itself. Its color is velvet. The black fruit aromas capture you when the bottle is uncorked. An enjoyable medium body, mild tannin wine has mineral notes and cook fruit like plums and currant on the palate. Concerto is an excellent excuse to go out to dinner.
2015 Pinot Noir, Black Ankle Vineyard (Mt. Airy, MD)
As far as I am concern Oregon and Washington winemakers have a foot up on us when growing Pinot Noir grapes. Not saying west coast winemakers are superbly smarter or better. They just have better conditions to grow Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir is an extremely difficult grape to grow well on the east coast. You have to have the right, maybe even perfect, growing conditions to cultivate this grape. These conditions influence what goes into the bottle. I have tried many right coast Pinot Noirs and very few have left a meaningful impression until this weekend.
It was by chance I had an opportunity to try this particular Pinot Noir. One of the Tour Ambassador’s became sick and I had to substitute for her. The tour was to Black Ankle Vineyard on the Westminster Regional Tour. One of Black Ankle’s Assistant Managers told me have to try this Pinot Noir. Skeptically, I thought not even Black Ankle can make a noteworthy Pinot. I was wrong. Aged 18 months in French oak, it is a beautiful jewel tone garnet. Fruit forward on the nose, but not overwhelming. You are greeted with Bing cherries, currants and smoke. There is generous minerality, soft tannin, and medium body. Black Ankle’s Pinot Noir is limited in production. If you are interested in being wowed, take a trip to Black Ankle.
Cheers to fall! You can purchase most of these wines from the vineyards’ websites.
Interested in more wine recommendations, join Vino 301’s mailing list
Piedmont Wine Trail
Most people who have ever visited a Maryland winery have traveled along the Piedmont Wine Trail. The Piedmont Wine Trail is home to the oldest vineyard and attracts over 80,000 visitors a year. The Trail’s attraction may be due to its diversity. It is pleasing to a variety of palates. Wine, spirits, cider, mead and ice cream, yes I said ice cream, can be found along the Piedmont Wine Trail. The Trail’s setting is another element of its attraction. Spanning from Baltimore City to Harford County, it attracts both sides of the coin… those who enjoy an urban tasting experience as well as those who prefer a traditional countryside wine tasting. Let’s begin our journey discovering the Piedmont Wine Trail:
Basgnani Winery (Sparks, MD)
Boordy Vineyards (Hydes, MD)
CharmCity Mead Works (Baltimore, MD)
Dejon Vineyard (Hydes, MD)
Fiore Winery & Distillery ( Pylesville, MD)
Harford Vineyard (Forest Hill, MD)
Millstone Cellars (Monkton, MD)
Mount Felix Vineyard & Winery ( Havre de Grace)
Royal Rabbit Vineyards (Parkton, MD)
WineCream (Baltimore, MD)
Traveling the Trail
People often forgot vineyards are farms. They are small family-owned farms. You witness this when you travel the Piedmont trail. Beautiful acres of vineyards, corn and other crops native to Maryland. The tasting rooms are quaint, cozy places like Basignani Winery and Mount Felix Vineyard & Winery. The venues are often staffed by family members. This is kinda cool. The staff works side by side the winemaker. The winemaker is also pouring wine in the tasting room. You can meet Roy Albin, Royal Rabbit’s wine maker when you visit. Tasting room staff are able to give you first hand account of the wine making process. You get interesting stories about whats in the bottle. You will never get by reading the back of the bottle.
Redefining Dessert Wine
Sherry, Port, Maderia, Ice Wine are the styles of dessert wines commonly mentioned when people discuss dessert wines. Ice cream is sometimes accompany these dessert wines. But, what about ice cream wine. Your dessert wine is ice cream. Wine is one of the main ingredients of this homemade gourmet ice cream. Just because they use wine in the ice cream, how does this make the Piedmont Wine Trail? WineCream makes the wine, they are winemakers. You cannot buy the wine independently. The wine is made to use in the ice cream. It is Maryland’s first and only winery and creamery.
Prior to this year, you could only try WineCream at wine festivals or private tastings. WineCream officially opened its tasting room early this summer. Located in west Baltimore City in a historic industrial building, it is like other tasting rooms. You are guided through their tasted menu during your visit. You must make an appointment and 21 years and older to try the boozy delight.
Maryland’s Oldest Vineyard
Boordy Vineyard is the oldest commercial vineyard in Maryland. Yes, Maryland winemaking has been around since 16th century, but Boordy Vineyard has been operating consistent for over 70 years. It is widely popular its summer concerts brings hundreds of people to the vineyard on a weekly basis. It is great family fun. You can bring a picnic, the kids, and your friends. Buy your ticket in advance; the concerts usually sell out.
What brings hundreds of people to these concerts? The music is great. The bands are fun cover bands but you are not going to see headliners like Beyonce. So what is it? It is the wine. Boordy has a three tier wine series. There is something for everyone. Sweetland is Boordy’s sweet wine series, like Sangria, Jazzberry and peach wine. Boordy has a table wine series, known as the Maryland Icons. Sketchings of iconic Maryland symbols such as the crane, oriole and blue crab are on the wine labels. The Icon series has dry and semi-dry wines. The last series is the Landmark series. It is Boordy’s reserve wines. Your serious wine drinkers would have appreciation for the Landmark wines.
Ciders and Meads
Cider and mead evoke thoughts of New Year’s Eve sparkling aperitif. The cider reserved for the designated driver. Well…erase those thoughts from your mind. CharmCity Mead Works and Millstone Cellars ciders and meads are dry. You may find a semi-dry on their tasting menus, which is the closest you will get to New Year’s cider. The ciders and meads are contemporary, even trendy. So trendy, the beverages are used in cocktails in DC’s hotest restaurants. Unlike many Maryland wines, these meads and ciders are widely distributed. You can find them in many grocery stores, fine wine stores, and restaurants.
CharmCityMead Works taproom is moving to a new location on Preston Street in Baltimore City. The taproom new location is scheduled to open late September or early October. When you visit you can enjoy mead tastings and a tour.
A mile or two before you arrive at Millstone Cellars you will notice cars parked along the roadway. People abandon their cars to tube or to kayak along Gunpowder River. The River runs under Millstone Cellars building. The building is a historic mill. Millstone offers a tour of the mill to everyone. The staff shares with you during the tour how the building was used by bootleggers during Prohibition. The mill is just as interesting as Millstone’s cider and cysers. The ciders are gluten free and vegan friendly. They locally source the apples and fruits. Ginger, rhubarb, and strawberry are some of the fruit and spices used as accents in the ciders. You can try a flight of ciders or a glass on tap. Take a visit to Millstone. You must experience the Mill at least once.
Distillery and Tradition
Fiore Winery and Distillery is known for its traditional Italian-style wine. They have been making wine for over 30 years. While you are visiting Fiore try their distilled spirits. True to their Italian heritage, they offer Italian spirits like Grappa, an after dinner drink, and Limoncello, Italian liqueur. I encourage to try them after your wine tasting. It will top off your visit. In addition to the Grappa and Limoncello, Fiore offers other spirits. Whisky, Brandy and Vodka are also on the menu.
Read and sip along with Vino 301
It isn’t fun to just read about the wine, you should taste too. We are giving away prize packages every week of the series. You can try the wine with us. Enter a chance to win Vino 301’s give away.
Antietam Highlands Wine Trail
Lately Vino 301 has been spending more time along the Antietam Highlands Wine Trail thanks to our great partnership with Inn Boonsboro. Guests at the Inn book a wine tour with their overnight stay. Since most of our tours do not take us along this trail much, I just at the opportunity to visit the wineries along the Trail. It has been a joy traveling this part of Maryland. The Trail is only 90 minutes outside of Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD. But when you enter Washington County, it is like stepping back in time. The Region has preserved the historical sites and small towns. One of our tour guests said to me, “Where is the closest Target?” The big box stores presence is not looming here.
The Antietam Highlands Wine Trail is home to several vineyards. Many wineries whose tasting rooms are along other trails have vineyards in this region. This region is known for the South Mountain area. Some of the best grapes in Maryland are grown there. In addition to the vineyards, wineries call this Trail home. Here are the Antietam Highlands wineries and cideries:
Antietam Creek Vineyards (Sharpsburg, MD)
Big Cork Vineyards (Rohrersville, MD)
Blue Mountain Wine Crafters (Funkstown, MD)
Charis Winery (Cumberland, MD)
Cool Ridge Vineyard (Hagerstown, MD)
Deep Creek Cellars (Friendsville, MD)
Knob Hall Winery (Clear Spring, MD)
Mazzaroth Vineyard (Middletown, MD)
Orchid Cellar Meadery & Cidery (Middletown, MD)
Red Heifer Winery (Smithburg, MD)
Toasted Goat Winery (Frostburg, MD)
Willow Oaks Craft Creek Cider & Wine (Middletown, MD)
Years of Experience, New to the Trail
Antietam Highlands trail is less than four years old. The trail was created when several tasting rooms opened after 2013. However, the age of the trail does not correspond with the years of wine making experience. Knob Hall Winery, Cool Ridge Vineyard, and Big Cork Vineyards are established vineyards. The winemakers at these vineyards have years of experience crafting award winning wines that are recognized nationally and internationally.
Dave Collins is the winemaker at Big Cork. I first met Dave when Big Cork was under construction five years ago. At that time, Big Cork operated out of the old Frederick Cellars property. Collins is an unassuming man, who is passionate about wine making. He is a natural educator. His every day conversation shares wine knowledge without trying. Dave has been making wine for over twenty years. His years of experience and the collaboration with Randy Thompson resulted in a BIG success. Big Cork’s wines were awarded 13 medals in the 2017 Governor’s Cup last this month… an outstanding accomplishment. You should visit Big Cork for its wines, but stay for the views and atmosphere. Big Cork, Red Heifer, Cool Ridge, and Mazzaroth have scenic views. Late summer and earlier fall are perfect times to travel along the trail. Plan to spend the day enjoying wine and viewing nature show off.
Go West, Far West
Deep Creek is a four-season vacation destination. Skiing during the winter, kayaking on the lake in the summer and wine tasting year-round. Deep Creek Cellars is a small winery at the intersection of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland. It is overlooked because it is so far west, but is deserving of a visit. The first ice wine I ever tried was from Deep Creek Cellars… AMAZING vidal blanc wine. The best way I can describe it is a beautiful pale straw color, syrupy body, ripen pears and honeysuckle on the palate. And honestly, the ice wine is not what they do best. Try their red wines. They were a boutique winery before it was vogue.
Mead and Cider
How does mead and cider make a wine trail list? Wine, mead, and cider have a lot in common. All three use similar processing methods. Mead is fermented honey and water. Mazers, mead makers, use yeast identical to yeast used by wine makers. Like wine, cider is made from fermented fruit that is crushed or pressed, usually apples. Pears are also used. The juice is extracted and aged. Mead and cider range from sweet, semi-sweet, dry to sparkling. So, it is not surprising to find meaderies and cideries along the Antietam Wine Trail.
Orchid Cellar and Willow Oaks make wine but their specialties are mead and cider. People sometimes avoid mead or cider because of the misconception of being too sweet. As I mentioned previously, there are several styles of mead and cider. Antietam trail is a great place to change your impressions and reintroduce yourself to mead and cider. Willow Oaks award winning ciders are made with organic apples. Willow Oaks is one of the first organic cidery’s in Maryland. Try their 2017 Governor Cup’s Gold and Silver medal winning ciders. One of my favorites is Orchid Cellar’s Scorpion Hunter. Scorpion Hunter is a mead. It is a bevy of spices on the palate and heat. The heat is gradually and is subdued by the tropical notes like banana and mango.
Make Your Own Wine
Blue Mountain Wine Crafters is a store front winery. They make their wines on site, sourcing grapes locally and nationally. You can taste every type of wine imaginable at Blue Mountain. But if you have dreams of being a winemaker, Blue Mountain can help you realize your dreams. Their tasting room as doubles as a wine maker’s class room. They offer make your own wine classes. You can make small batches of wine. You can also purchase home brewing supplies and at-home wine making kits.
Read and sip along with Vino 301
It isn’t fun to just read about the wine, you should taste too. We are giving away prize packages every week of the series. You can try the wine with us. Enter a chance to win Vino 301’s give away.