Four Very Unique Wine Trails: Discover Maryland’s Wine Trails
Maryland grapes date back to the 16th century. But, its role as a competitor in the wine industry is relatively new. Fewer than 20 wineries existed 30 years ago. Maryland is now trending towards 100 wineries. As a wine geek, this is exciting to witness but why should you care? You should care because the industry is midst of a transformation. It is producing noteworthy wines that are more accessible to the consumer. Vineyard visiting is no longer reserved for elite wine snobs. It is an activity to be enjoyed by all wine lovers.
We discovered Maryland’s newer wine trails — Capital, Antietam Highlands, and Chesapeake in the first Discover Maryland’s Wine Trail blog. Today, we will discover four unique wine trails that have shaped the industry and are leading its transformation.
Carroll Wine Trail
Carroll Wine Trail has the fewest wineries, only two: Old Westminster Winery and Serpent Ridge Vineyard. Carroll Wine Trail is small but mighty. Mighty meaning its influence. The Trail had more wineries and tremendous influence on grape growing and wine production during the early years. Wineries closed, people retired or vineyards decided to only grow grapes are the reasons that attribute to the reduction of wineries.
Do not overlook this trail. It is still influential. Vino 301 frequently takes groups to these vineyards. They are warm and inviting. It is like going to your favorite aunt’s home. You know you are going to be welcomed and have a good time. Hal and Karen are Serpent Ridge’s owners. They offer many fun activities, like yoga, paint parties, chocolate and cigar pairings. But don’t just go for the activities, Serpent Ridge pours good wine. My personal favorites are Albariño and Serpent Kiss.
A couple years ago when you asked someone what Maryland wineries have you ever visited; Linganore Winecellars or Boordy Vineyard were always mentioned. Now, people say Old Westminster too. Established less than 10 years ago, the sibling trio (Lisa, Ashli and Drew) have re-invented how people imagine Maryland wine. Their mission is to produce noteworthy wines from Maryland. By the number of awards and accolades they have received, they can check the box. This year they were named by The Daily Meal one of the top 101 Wineries in America. Awards by pretentious wine judges are nice, but should not be the reason why you visit. You should visit because Old Westminster’s wines are exceptional. They continue to hone their wine making craft and produce wines that appeal to most wine drinkers— crisp balanced white wines, fruity long-lasting finish red wines, and trendy sparkling wine. You are not going to find semi-dry or sweet wines on their tasting menus.
Frederick Wine Trail
Frederick Wine Trail celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2017. Congratulations! I think it is the second oldest wine trail. Please do not quote me on this fact. However, you can quote me on this fact… it is home to the largest winery. Linganore Winecellars is the largest winery. Here is another wine nerd factoid … it is home to two American Viticultural Areas (AVA) — Catoctin AVA and Linganore AVA. AVAs are a big deal in the wine world because it helps wine drinkers identify the type of wine in the bottle. It’s like a secret decoder ring.
Now that the facts are out of the way, let us get back to the wine trail. Linganore Winecellars, Loew Vineyard, Elk Run Vineyard and Catoctin Breeze are among the establishing wineries. They have produced wines for over 20 years and have had a tremendous imprint on Maryland’s wine culture. The vanguard is complemented by newer wineries. In the upcoming Frederick Wine Trail blog, I will discover how the newer wineries continue to bring recognition to the trail.
Noble grapes —Chardonnay, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon thrive in this region because of the ideal growing conditions. Wine blends and fruit wines (e.g., peach, apple) have garnered a following also.
Aside from the wine, what I love about this region is the wineries proximity to one another. They are clustered, so the drive between wineries on average is 15 minutes. You can make a weekend out of vineyard hopping and visit almost all eight vineyards.
Legacy Wine Trail
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. Romano Vineyard, Robin Hill Farms, JaneMark Vineyard and Gemeny Vineyard make up the Legacy Wine Trail.
Patuxent Wine Trail
Patuxent river runs through the southernmost wine trail. Anne Arundel, Calvert and St. Mary counties are home to the Patuxent wine trail. Maryland’s Route 4 also runs through this trail. It is one of the easiest trails to navigate. Take a lazy afternoon drive south on MD Route 4 and you are can easily access many of the wineries.
Former tobacco farmlands influence the trail’s wine and architecture. Refurbished tobacco barns have a renewed use —charming tasting rooms. Great Frogs and Fridays Creek Vineyard have made great use of these barns. Local artisans display their work in Fridays Creek Vineyard’s loft. In an upcoming blog, I will explore tobacco’s relationship with current growing conditions.
Chambourcin, a French-American hybrid grape, is used widely as by winemakers from this region. It is a signature grape that is extremely versatile. It is expressed in different styles. The styles range from Cove Valley’s semi-dry wine, Fridays Creek Vineyard’s table wine, Port of Leonardtown Winery award-winning reserve to Running Hare Vineyard port style wine.
Piedmont Wine Trail
Piedmont means “the foot of the mountains”. The growing conditions along this trail mimic the conditions in Italy’s Piedmont region. However, in my mind Piedmont means the heart Maryland wine. The Piedmont trail is home to Maryland’s oldest winery — Boordy Vineyards. Boordy Vineyards along with Fiore Winery & Distillery, and Basignani Vineyard are the vineyards that gave face to Maryland wine. These vineyards cultivated Maryland’s wine character and personality. They continue to plow the path of its future. You will find very traditional wines along the trail. No trendy blue wine here. Old world traditional wine making methods are used.
One of the most popular wine trails, the trail traverses Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Harford County. There are almost a dozen wineries. It is a 30-minute drive from downtown Baltimore to reach the Trail. The transition from city to country is mesmerizing for many. People forgot how rural Maryland still is.
The trail has the only winery that is also a creamy. WineCream is a winery that serves “boozy” ice cream. Yes, the ice cream is made with wine. The trail is also home to cideries. I will discover other distinguishing traits in along the Piedmont trail in the blog series.
Read and sip along with Vino 301
Hopefully, your interest has been peeked and you will continue to follow our blogs published over the month. We will taste and discover the wines along all the trails.
2016 Maryland Passport Experience Guided Tour FAQs
- What comes with your Passport ticket? Ticket holders will be privy to a free wine tasting and behind-the-scene experience at each winery, a commemorative wine glass and 10% off all bottles that are just too good to leave without. It also gets you discounts and promotions to several local attractions, hotels, restaurants and shopping centers so you may fully immerse yourself in all that each region has to offer.
- How often can I use the Passport ticket? You can use the Passport on all four days.
- How much is Passport ticket? $25.00 per person. You buy your Passport ticket directly from the Maryland Wine Passport Experience. The ticket grants you access to all participating vineyards and wineries over both weekends.
- Will I have to buy a Passport ticket and Vino 301 ticket? Yes.
- What is the difference between the Passport ticket and Vino 301 ticket? Passport ticket is your tasting pass. The ticket grants you access to all participating vineyards and wineries over both weekends. Vino 301 is your transportation and guided tour pass.
- What do I get with the Vino 301 ticket?
- Transportation to ALL 6 wine trails
- Knowledgeable and fun Tour Ambassador & driver
- Light snacks & beverages
- Does Vino 301 have weekend passes? Yes. You can buy a single day or weekend pass.
- Can you mix trail passes when you purchase a Vino 301 weekend pass? Yes. For example, you can go along the Patuxent Wine Trail on Saturday and Chesapeake Wine Trail on Sunday.
- How long is the Vino 301 wine tour? 12 noon – 6 pm
- Will Vino 301 go to all 6 Wine Trails? Yes
- Where are the pick up locations?
- Big Cork Vineyard (Antietam Highlands Wine Trail)
- Linganore Wine Cellars (Carroll Wine Trail)
- Clovelly Vineyard (Chesapeake Wine Trail – Saturday)
- Casinelli Vineyard (Chesapeake Wine Trail – Sunday)
- The Winery at Olney (Frederick Wine Trail)
- Port of Leonardtown (Patuxent Wine Trail – Saturday)
- Fridays Creek Winery (Patuxent Wine Trail – Sunday)
- Boordy Vineyard (Piedmont Wine Trail – Saturday)
- Fiore Vineyard (Piedmont Wine Trail- Sunday)
- What time should I arrive at the pick up location? We recommend arriving at the pick location between 11:00 am and 11:30 am. You can begin your tasting at the first location before we depart to the other vineyards. We will be departing at 12:00 noon.
- What wineries and vineyards are participating?
Antietam Highlands Wine Trail (Washington County)
- Big Cork Vineyards
- Distillery Lane Ciderworks
- Orchid Cellar
- Winery Knob Hall Winery
- Red Heifer Winery
Carroll Wine Trail (Carroll County)
- Cygnus Wine Cellars
- Serpent Ridge Vineyard & Winery
Chesapeake Wine Trail (Kent, Cecil, Queen Anne, and Talbot Counties)
- Cassinelli Winery
- Clovelly Vineyard
- Crow Farm
- Layton’s Chance Vineyard
- St. Michael’s Winery
- Triple Creek Winery
- Turkey Point Vineyard
Frederick Wine Trail (Montgomery and Frederick Counties)
- Great Shoals Winery
- Linganore Wine Cellars
- Rockland Farm Winery
- The Winery at Olney
Patuxent Wine Trail (Prince George’s, Calvert, St. Mary’s Counties)
- Cove Point Winery
- Fridays Creek Vineyard & Winery
- Perigeaux Vineyard & Winey
- Port of Leonardtown
- Romano Vineyard & Winery
- Running Hare Vineyard
- Slack Vineyard
- Solomons Island Winery
Piedmont Wine Trail (Baltimore and Harford Counties)
- Boordy Vineyards
- Dejon Vineyard
- Fiore Winery
- Harford Vineyard & Winery
- Millstone Cellars
- Royal Rabbit Vineyards
- Woodhall Wine Cellars
Still have questions not answered here. Do not hesitate to post them on our blog, or email us at info@vino301. We will respond timely. You can also Tweet your questions to #ASKMDWine.
Hopefully, we will see you along one of MD’s wine trails. Cheers!