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New Market Plains Vineyard, A Fresh New Face to Maryland’s Wine Scene

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.)New Winery in Frederick, 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.


You are warmly greeted by Sue Wilson and invites you to enter their modest tasting room.  She, along with her husband Howard Wilson, is the co-proprietor and co-winemaker. Sue Wilson, New Market Plains co-owner and co-winemaker


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.


2015 New Market Plains winesDuring 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.

Going Wine Tasting with Your Dog at Maryland Vineyards

Pet-Friendly Wineries

You love wine.  You love your dog.  Why not bring your dog with you when you go wine tasting?  It can be a wonderful outing with your best friend. Before you and your best friend spend a day at pet-friendly wineries, here are some things you should know.


  1. Call first, not all vineyards are pet-friendly

Although there is a vineyard dog, do not assume you can bring your pet.  Call or email the vineyard before you arrive is the best way to determine your pet can visit.  Call ahead. Most vineyards do not list their pet policy on their website.


  1. Come prepared

Most vineyards will have water bowls available and supplies to clean up after your dog. However, you should bring your own just in case.  Consider bringing food, and their favorite toy. Being at the vineyard may be overwhelming for your pooch in the beginning.   Having their favorite toy will help your doggie adjust to the new environment.pet friendly wineries


  1. Leash or not to Leash

Your dog may be trained without a leash, but you should be prepared to place your dog on a leash.  Many vineyards do require your dog to have a leash. When you contact the vineyard, make sure you ask about their leash policy.


  1. Pet-friendly Maryland vineyards

There are some Maryland vineyards that welcome your doggie.  Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard is one vineyard that not only welcomes pets, but they host pet-friendly events.  In the fall, they host the Howl-O-Wine for Wags for Hope fundraiser.  They also have pet pictures event during the Christmas season.


Here is a list of other Maryland vineyards who are pet-friendly wineries.

Black Ankle Vineyard (Mt. Airy, MD)

 Catoctin Breeze Vineyard (Thurmont, MD)

Crow Vineyard (Kennedyville, MD)

Great Frogs (Annapolis, MD)

JaneMark Vineyard (Brandywine, MD)

Links Bridge Vineyards (Thurmont, MD)

Linganore Winecellars (Mt. Airy, MD)

Perigeaux Vineyard & Winery (St. Leonard, MD)

Port of Leonardtown Winery (Leonardtown, MD)

Running Hare Vineyard (Prince Frederick, MD)

Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard (Dickerson, MD)

List updated as of October 6, 2019


I hope these tips will make your wine tasting experience enjoyable for you and your best friend. Enjoy your visit.  Please share with us vineyards you like to bring your pet in the comment section below.

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Back To School Package: Nominate Your Favorite Teacher

Contest Time – It’s time to go back to school. Vino 301 Wine Concierge appreciates the work teachers and education professionals perform every year. To show our appreciation, we are giving away “back to school” packages to 2 lucky winners. The package includes a Maryland wine, two wine glasses, and massage (provided by Caressence Therapeutic Massage)

back to school

To enter, share with us on our Facebook page Vino 301 Wine Concierge the name of your favorite education professional and what makes them special. We will select two winners August 20. ‪#‎backtoschool‬ ‪#‎favoriteteacher‬

Traveling Along Southern Maryland’s Wine Trail

Vino 301’s Ms. Leslie Frelow named Local Wine Ambassador by Maryland Wine Press.  She shares her insight about traveling along Maryland’s Patuxent Wine Trail in Maryland Wine Press (Spring/Summer 2016 edition).  The Patuxent Wine Trail spans from Prince George’s County to St. Mary’s County.  Ms. Frelow discusses how the region has transformed from a prosperous tobacco region to an award winning wine destination.

Read More …

Celebrate Spring: Take $5 Off Regional Wine Tours

Spring is here! The flowers are blooming and the wine is chilling. It’s time to head to Maryland’s vineyards and wineries.

Take $5 off any Regional Wine Tour taken in May. Use code SPRING at check out. Book your wine tour today  #winetour #Springtour

Wine Festival Season Is Here: Tips To Navigating Maryland Wine Festivals

Decanter Wine Festival is when Maryland’s horse racing and wine traditions are celebrated.  It is also the official start of the wine festival season in Maryland.  Before you dust off your wine lanyard, and remove your picnic basket from storage, here are some tips on how to traverse the wine festival season.


  1. It is a marathon and not a sprint. There is a lot to see, taste, and experience at festivals.  You need a plan.  Do not go to the tents near the entrance when you first arrive.  They are often crowded and overwhelming.  Start at the back and work your way to the front.  It is less crowded.  Also, most festivals provide a map or guide.  Use the guide to plan your route and you avoid missing your “must visit tents”.    You have to pace yourself. If not, you can burn out in the first hour.  Cider festival



  1. Find a new favorite wine. There are hundreds wines available for you to taste.  This is a great opportunity to find your next great wine. You cannot taste everything.  It is not possible.  Select a few varietals you want to taste that day include favorites and new to you varietals, like Petit Veridot, Cabernet Franc, or Vidal Blanc.   Start with tasting the whites, then reds, and finally sparklings and you will find a new favorite along the way.



  1. Take notes, after the first few wines you will forget what you like. The wineries have tasting menus listing the wines being poured.  Use the menus to record the wines you love.   After the first 20 wines, everything begins to taste the same.  If you are really sophisticate, use a small notebook to record you notes.  You avoid having multiple pieces of paper to refer to at the end of the day.    



  1. It is a tasting pour, not a glass of wine. Do not expect a glass of wine when you are tasting. The wineries will give you 1 or 1.5-ounce pour of each wine.  You can ask for a second pour, but keep in mind it is just a sampling of wine.  You can always purchase a glass or bottle of wine if you really like it.traverse city wine festival



  1. Upgrade your admission pass if you can. Most festivals offer a general admission and VIP passes.  The general admission gives you access to tasting tents and food vendors.  The VIP pass cost a little more, but gives you a little more.  Usually you get access to exclusive events, like the premier wine tastings, food and wine demonstrations, and/or meet celebrity wine experts.  The VIP passes often include food, so you do not have to purchase food at the festival.



  1. Snack throughout your time at the festival. There are several vendors on site you can purchase food from. Some festivals allow you to bring food from home into the festival.  Check with the festival officials before you arrive to determine if you can bring your own food.  Regardless if you bring food or purchase food, take time to enjoy this food as well as the wine.  Your body will absorb less alcohol as a result.



  1. Drink water. You want to drink as much water as wine. Bring a water bottle with you so you can replenish throughout the day. You want to stay hydrated especially when the weather is warm.



  1. Use the dump bucket. You are not going to like every wine you try. The wineries provide a dump bucket or spittoon for you to discard the wine.  You will not offend the winery staff if you pour the wine out.  Some people will not swallow the wine and spit.  Spitting is acceptable. Do not be surprise by spitting.  Practice at home before you try it at the festival.



  1. Be Safe. Finally, the top tip for visiting festivals is to be safe.  Have a designated driver.  Many festivals offer designated driver tickets.  Utilize transportation services if everyone in your group will enjoy wine.  Food and Wine festivals, like Great Grapes or National Harbor Wine and Food festival, offers transportation with admissions.  Someone else can provide the transportation while you enjoy the festival.



You are now ready for this wine festival season. Enjoy, drink, and be safe.

Wine Clubs: To join or not to join

Going to vineyards in Maryland are such a treat.  You are enjoying the sweeping views, the time with friends, and the wine…oh good the wine.  When the tasting is over you are faced with the dilemma: how can I get this wine again? Do you join or not join wine clubs?

Maryland wines distribution are limited and not widely available in stores. You can purchase wine at the vineyard, vineyard’s website or wine festivals. But, those channels do not guarantee the wine you fell in love with is available. Vineyard wine clubs are a sure way to get what you love all the time.


What is a wine club?

It is a subscription to receive an allocation of wine on a regular basis. Your subscription is available monthly, quarterly or annually.  Most clubs are quarterly.  The allocation also varies from three bottles, six bottles (half of case) or a case.  You have the options of having your wine mailed or you can pick it up at the vineyard.


What are the perks of joining?

The wine, of course.  But there is more!

  • Club members discounts. You receive a 10 – 15% discount on the wine.   Often this is not limited to your club allocation but other wines you purchase. Some vineyards offer discounted tasting fees in addition.
  • Preferred access to new or small batch releases. Vineyards will prepare a limited edition or small batches exclusively for their wine club.
  • Special invitation to vineyard activities. Vineyards organize exclusive events for its members, like food and wine pairings, barrel tastings, harvest events, etc. These events are really fun. There is always a special treat at these events.  The winemaker is at these events.  You have an opportunity to chat with the winemaker and discuss the wines.
    Big Cor Vineyard Wine Dinner

    Big Cork Vineyard Dinner


What to consider before you join?  

  • 3, 6 or 12 bottles? If you are new to a wine club, start with the smaller allocation.  You can always adjust the allocation throughout the year.  Consider sharing your allocation with a friend if you want to purchase a larger lot. Not only will share the allocation, you can share the cost and realize a greater savings.
  • Cost? Most clubs are free to join. The cost generally starts around $100.00 for quarterly commitment. This does not include the shipping fees. Vineyards will request a credit card to keep on file, and notify you before charging your card.
  • Commitment? You have the option to end your commitment at any time.  However, you do not always have the option modify the frequency.  The vineyards usually sets the frequency.
  • Wine selection? Some places have a white wine only, red wine only, or mix wine list you select when you join. Once you select your preference the vineyards pre-select your allocation.  Not to worry, most places allow you to switch wines if you change your mind.


In full disclosure, I belong to five wine clubs and will join more.  I know, I know, it is a hazard of the job. It is a good decision to join a wine club.  Start slow, and you will not be disappointed. I hope this helps you make your decision.


Vino 301 Wine Concierge Sponsors Charitable Wine Tour in Aid of Alzheimer’s Research

Tour Ambassadors of Vino 301 Wine Concierge are raising their glasses to support of the Alzheimer’s Association with the sponsorship of a charitable wine tour to the Westminster Wine Region.

The event is scheduled for March 6, 2016 at 10:00 am, and will include tours to the Old Westminster Winery and Springfield Manor Winery. Many of the vineyards featured on the tour are grown in Bordeaux style. Lovers of Cabernet Franc, Pinot Grigio, or Vidal Blanc will especially relish this tantalizing treat.

Maryland Wine Tours


According to statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association, there is an estimated 5.1 million people 65 years and older in the United States living with Alzheimer’s. Approximately 200,000 individuals below the age of 65 are afflicted with the disease.


Vino 301 Wine Concierge is the one of the latest sponsors to join forces with the organization in the fight against the disease. The company was asked to host the tour by a former tour guest, Ms. LeeAnn Charpentier, whose grandmother had the disease and died. LeeAnn wanted to do something to honor her grandmother’s memory and raise funds for Alzheimer’s research.


Discussing Vino 301 Wine Concierge’s response to Ms. Charpentier’s request, Managing Director of the company, Leslie Frelow said: “We thought it was a great idea and were eager to help. Ms Charpentier has been a tremendous supporter of Vino 301.   We hope our contribution will further research for a cure for this debilitating disease.”

Net profits will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association. For further information or to register for the tour, visit: Charitable Wine Tour for Alzheimer’s.

The Greatest Myth about Maryland Wines

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.


Maryland Wines


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.  

Pop the Cork on New Year’s Eve … Guide to Champagne and Sparkling Wine

Guide to Champagne and Sparkling Wine

Champagne, Sparkling Wine
The other day a friend and me were talking about New Year’s Eve.  She said, “Should I serve Champagne or sparkling wine”?  My immediate response was, “Champagne is a form of sparkling wine. It all depends upon what you like.”  She gave me a puzzled look, and said “oh ok.”  Thinking about my response I should have provided a better explanation.  I realized she did not know Champagne is among the sparkling wine family.  She thought Champagne is different from sparkling wine.  Champagne has become the brand name for requesting sparkling wine. It is like when you ask someone to hand you a Kleenex®.  You are really asking for a tissue and not the brand Kleenex®.  The brand name has been ingrained in everyday vernacular. 

Champagne has very distinctive characteristics, fermentation methods, and regional restrictions. Here is the Reader’s Digest® version about Champagne.  Champagne is made from Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay.  There is a double fermentation method known as Methode Champenoise.  Lastly,and most importantly to the French and legally,  only sparkling wine produced in the La Champagne region can be called Champagne (except for a few California vineyards.  That is another blog).



Now you know, what do you serve? You have a variety of sparkling wines to select. In addition to Champagne,  there are other sparkling wines styles like Cava and Prosecco. Cava is from Spain. Prosecco is from Italy. Each of these regions have unique grapes that make up the composition of these wines.   



Regardless of the country, there are common descriptions you will see on the label.  Here are the most common:

  • Blanc de Blancs: made from white grapes, like a Chardonnay.  
  • Blanc de Noirs: made from black grapes, like a Pinot Noir. The sparkling will be white in color.  
  • Rose: pink in color.  Semi-dry to sweet to the taste.
  • Doux: very sweet wine.
  • Dry: slightly sweet wine.  
  • Brut: very little sugar, dry and most popular sparkling wine



Your sparkling wine does not have to be international. When you are in your local wine store ask for Maryland sparkling wine.  It is not too late for the wine shop to order it from the vineyard.   
Crow Farm and Vineyard (Kent County, MD) has a delightful 2013 Vidal Sparkling. It is a Guide to Champagne and Sparkling Winesingle varietal wine. Vidal Blanc grape is used, very popular in Maryland.  Vidal Blanc is known for its honeysuckle favor and those with a sweeter palate enjoy this grape.  Do not let this dissuade the traditional drier palate drinkers. The Vidal Sparkling is a dry sparkling wine.  Effervescent, pale golden color, and hints of stone fruit and apple best describes this wine.  The Vidal is made in the Methode Champenoise style sparkling goes through primary fermentation in stainless steel, followed by a secondary fermentation in bottle. Aged for 13 months before being hand disgorged in small lots, then hand corked, caged and labeled.  
Hopefully, this will make your shopping experience a little easier. Cheers to you and Happy New Year!


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