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.
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.