Frederick Wine Trail
When Vino 301 started; we brainstormed about what to name our regional wine tours. We did not want to duplicate Maryland Wine Association’s wine trail names. In hindsight, it would have been easier to have names that played off the Maryland wine trails. Oh well, you live and you learn. After a lot of brainstorming and wine, we came up with the Westminster Region and Mountainview Region. Our guests who visited wineries along the Carroll trail could take the Westminster Region wine tour. Those interested in the Frederick trail would take the Mountainview Region wine tour. Having separate wine regions was a great idea, but in the beginning being a young company with a small team we could not staff both regions. We combined the regions and called the tour Westminster Mountainview Region wine. Over time, it became the Westminster Region wine tour. The Westminster Region tour is primarily composed of the Frederick Trail wineries.
Frederick Wine Trail Wineries
Black Ankle Vineyards (Mt. Airy, MD)
Catoctin Breeze Vineyard (Thurmont, MD)
Elk Run Vineyards & Winery (Mt. Airy, MD)
Hidden Hills Farm & Vineyard (Mt. Airy, MD)
Linganore Winecellars (Mt. Airy, MD)
Loew Vineyards (Mt. Airy, MD)
New Market Plains Vineyard (New Market, MD)
Springfield Manor Winery & Distillery (Thurmont, MD)
The Westminster Region wine tour is our most popular tour. It is the tour that most frequently is booked. I have some theories why …unproven, of course.
- Linganore Winecellars festivals are legendary. Their wine festivals are widely attended. Hundreds of people attend their festivals… coming from near and far. Linganore also has a very extensive wine tasting menu. You can try over 10 dry or sweet wined during your visit. Their sweet and fruit wines are extremely popular.
- Frederick is the “unofficial” foodie and drink capital of Maryland. A food and craft beverage eco-system has evolved attracting more visitors to this region.
- Black Ankle Vineyards established a new benchmark for Maryland wine. Prior to Black Ankle, Maryland was commonly known for sweet wines only, rightfully or wrongfully. After Black Ankle, the American wine industry started to view Maryland wine through new lenses. It’s Bordeaux style wines brought a sophistication and maturity to the region. Black Ankle is not solely responsible for changing the perception, but led the charge.
New to the Trail
Hidden Hills Farm & Vineyard and New Market Plains are the newest wineries to join the trail. They are boutique vineyards. They produce small batches of wine and have no intention of becoming a large production facility. Both are equally charming and have unique characteristics that make them memorable places to visit. You will find traditional dry wines when you visit, mostly white wines. The red wines are very limited and are still aging. If you taste something you like, buy it. There is no guarantee it will be available later.
More than wine
Springfield Manor Vineyard and Distillery began as a vineyard and lavender farm. The historic property has a beautiful tasting space, wedding venue and bed and breakfast. Their scenic views overlook the mountains. A couple years ago, they expanded their offering to include craft spirits. Springfield Manor’s Gin, Rum, and Vodka are as noteworthy as their wines. Springfield Manor is a fun place to visit… music, painting parties, crafts, food, so much to do. It is not a place where you quickly visit. Plan to spend some time.
Redshed Man Brewery shares Linganore Winecellars property. You can visit the Brewery when you go for your wine tasting.
Black Ankle is very conscience of limiting its carbon footprint while producing quality wines. It is their belief to sustain the vineyard’s resources for growing grapes. Their belief is not limited to the vineyard, but includes the tasting room. The tasting room is built from straw, clay, stone and wood from the farm. Electrical car charging stations are available.
Quality, award winning wines
The Frederick trail vineyards produce some of the best wines in Maryland. It is not by accident. The soils, climate, and elevations have tremendous influence on the quality of wines from this region. If you are a big, tannic red wine lover call this trail home. Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Merlot grow extremely well in this region. Ask for the Petit Verdot when you visit Catoctin Breeze. It never disappoints. Albariño and Chardonnay also grow amazingly well here. It is one of the few regions that Chardonnay does well. One of the trail’s lesser known grapes is Seyval Blanc. It is a good alternative to the mainstream Pinot Gris. Stop by Loew Vineyard for their bright, well balanced Seyval Blanc.
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.
Always on the hunt for good wine, I heard rumors about a new vineyard opening near Mt. Airy, MD. I headed west to confirm the rumors. Stopping at Serpent Ridge Vineyard and Black Ankle Vineyard during my quest, I asked the tasting room staff if they knew about this new place. Some heard the same rumor but did not know the name of the new winery in Frederick, MD . Finally, I found one person who had a name…New Market Plains. But, she was not quite sure of its location. Armed with Google Maps, I was confident I could find it.
Minutes away from Mt. Airy, New Market Plains Vineyard is located in New Market, MD. The entrance is not obvious. The Vineyard shares the same road with Adventure Park USA. The road appears to dead ends, but it is actually the beginning of its driveway. Success, the rumors are true! (Hint: If you are using GPS, you should enter Monrovia, MD instead. The GPS may not locate the Vineyard if you use New Market, MD.)
When you enter the property, modern day noises are blocked out and you are taken back in time. The farm dates back to the 1700s and many of the original buildings remain intact. You forget New Market Plains is nettled between a major highway and a business park.
New Market Plains’s wines are all estate wines. Its first vintage was harvested in 2014 and bottled in April 2015. The first release included Chardonnay, Rich Forest Chardonnay and Rosé. Both Chardonnays are from the same vineyard. The Rich Forest Chardonnay was aged in oak and the other in steel. The Rich Forest has a very distinct character and is appealing to the palate. The wines are sophisticated and well-balance considering this is New Markets first vintage. The Rosé is a blend of reds. Its color is strikingly bold. I expected the nose to be fruity, but it was floral. The taste was reminiscent of a French Syrah Rosé. It is perfect to drink year-round. There wines are reasonably priced. ($25.00)
Sue and Howard proudly display the vineyard’s 2015 Governor’s Cup Silver Medal. An impressive feat for new winery.
During my visit, Sue offered to give me a tour of the property. I gladly accepted. Along the tour, Howard and Sue shared with me the history of the property. The property has been in Sue’s family for 10 generations. We toured their processing facility where they are aging their red wines. Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Syrah are aging. Looking forward to trying the reds.
It was a great adventure. Thrilled to try new Maryland wines. New Market Plains is a welcomed addition to Maryland’s wine community and a new winery in Frederick, MD. I encourage you to visit. New Market Plains is opened Friday through Sunday or by appointment.
As everyone knows, Vino 301 Wine Concierge is a big cheerleader for Maryland wine and culture. I can safely say no one has ever questioned our love for local wine. A few, some, … actually a lot have questioned why. Why do you love Maryland wine?
Most people do not directly ask why. They give me a strange look or a raised eyebrow when I mention the many virtues of Maryland wine. Some will actually make statements like, “Maryland primarily makes sweet, fruity wine. That’s ok if you like that type of wine.” Translation: How could you possibly call that wine. It is an adult version of Kool-Aid.” More direct individuals will state, “It is ok to drink, but I would not recommend it.”
As one of Maryland’s biggest cheerleader, it is my obligation to debunk the greatest myth ever told.
Myth – Maryland primarily makes sweet, fruity wines.
There is some truth to this statement like most myths. Yes, winemakers make sweet, fruity wine. Sweetland Cellars is a great example. Sweetland Cellars is a brand of Boordy Vineyard. Sweetland are grape and fruit wines. They are intended to be light,refreshing, and sweet hence the name. They are perfect to drink by themselves or as base to a cocktail.
Many Maryland winemakers have semi-dry or sweet wines in their profile for those with a sweeter palate. However, all Maryland winemakers make dry vino. They use traditional methods that are artisan crafted resulting in noteworthy aromas, flavors and body. They are recognized nationally and internationally. The Daily Meal All Things Food & Drink, a national publication, recognized Black Ankle Vineyard in its list of 101 Best Wineries in America in March 2015. This list consisted of the country’s most acclaimed wineries.
Why does this myth exists? I have a theory. Maryland is a victim of its success. The Maryland Wine Festival is a wildly popular event. Thousands of people from several states attend this event. Facts to keep in mind: (1) The Festival is held in September. September is still humid and warm. (2) Majority of Americans prefer fruity and semi-sweet wines styles, according to the 2015 Survey of American Wine Consumer Preferences conducted by Wine Business.com. (3) The Festival is the only exposure some have to Maryland wine.
Put yourself in the vineyard managers’ shoes. You want people to try and buy your wine at the Festival. What do people want when it is hot and humid — a cool refreshing beverage. What do the majority of Americans enjoy drinking — fruity and sweet wines. In the same 2015 survey, 74 percent of people said red wine is their favorite. However, less than a quarter of the same people indicated they like dry, savory or tannic. Most people say they want a traditional wines, but they really prefer sweet. As vineyard managers, do you pour your higher price drier wines or your less expensive sweet and semi-dry? You give people what they really want. The sweeter wine resonate with the Festival attendees leaving the impression all Maryland wines are fruity and sweet.
Where Can You Try the Traditional Wines? Believe it or not, many of these wines are at the Wine Festival. Maryland Wine Festival showcases its Governor’s Cup winners in the premier tent. These are recognized as the best wines in Maryland. There is an additional cost to the admission to taste the wines.
You do not have to wait until the Festival. You can visit the vineyards. These wines are apart of the tasting menu at most vineyards at no additional cost. You get an opportunity to experience the full complement of Maryland’s grapes. Explore and see for yourself if the myth is true.
Best Wines for Thanksgiving
Regardless if you are hosting or you going to someone’s home you are probably trying to decide what wine should be paired with dinner. People frequently ask, “What is the perfect wine to serve with Thanksgiving meal?” Answer: There isn’t a perfect wine. There are so many rich and varying flavors, it is impossible to select just one wine. However there are wines that pair better with thanksgiving. What are the best wines for Thanksgiving?
Start at your local fine wine store. Wine stores offer wine tastings on a weekly or daily basis during the holiday season. You can call or go on their website to find out what days the tastings are available. These tastings are often free. The store will pour between 4 to 6 wines. This is great opportunity for you to try different varietals.
Bring your dinner menu with you. The wine representative can offer suggestions on what to pair with the wine. You may find your new favorite wine.
If the store is not offering a tasting, you still may have an opportunity to try an instore tasting. You may ask the sales person to uncork the wine you are serious about purchasing. Some stores will uncork the bottle for you.
If you cannot attend an instore tasting, there are no fail wine selection tips you can employee.
TIP #1 – Go with sparkling wine. Everyone likes a sparkling wine (well almost everyone). Sparkling wine is the most versatile wine. It is the little black dress of the wine world; it is good for any occasion. It can be paired with almost any meal. Try a dry sparkling wine, a brut, with your meal and a demi-sec, sweeter sparkling with dessert. Great Shoals, 2012 Cuvee Blanc Sparkling Wine, is a Maryland sparkling that is a blend of Chardonnay and Vidal Blanc in a brut style. It is a great way to begin your meal.
TIP #2 – Some like white, some like red, offer both. Rarely will all your guests like only white wine or only red. Offer them a choice. You will look like a very sophisticated host.
TIP #3 – Vidal Blanc, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Albarĩno are great complements to side dishes. Stay away from oaky Chardonnay; it can overwhelm your meal. You can locate Albarĩno at local vineyards like Black Ankle Vineyard and Serpent Ridge.
TIP #4 – Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Zinfandel complements your hearty and savory dishes. You also can try red blends. Red wine blends, like Meritage and Bordeaux, are excellent with turkey legs and dark meat.
Have a very, very safe and happy Thanksgiving! Vino 301 Wine Concierge is thankful for your continued support and we wish you well during this holiday season. Cheers!