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.
Vino 301’s 2017 Red Wines Picks
Red wine can be enjoyed year-round. People who love red wines LOVE red wine. They would never consider switching to white wine because it is summer. Red wine lovers just switch to a lighter red during the summer. If you are a serious red wine drinker or thinking about trying a summer red, here are Vino 301’s recommendations for summer red wines.
Red wine does not evoke images of sipping a cool glass of wine on the deck or rocking on the porch swing with a glass of wine. We have a red wine that will forever, change your mind.
2015 Chambourcin Melot, Boordy Vineyard
The Chambourcin Merlot blend is a pleasant sipping wine that can be served chilled. We recommend chilling it an hour before serving. It has aromas of fresh raspberries. The residual sweetness from the grapes is a welcomed surprise to the palate. It is a semi-dry wine.
Grilled and Smoked Meats
Grilled hamburgers, steaks, lamb, ribs or smoked brisket generally warrant medium to full bodied red wines. These red wines have the muscle to stand up to these rich, layered meats. Full bodied reds have as much flavor as the food.
2013 Cabernet Franc Blend, Chateau Bu-De
The Cabernet Franc is a blend of 78.6% Cabernet Franc, 16.1% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5.4% Merlot. Big bold fruit flavors like cherries, raspberries are on the nose. Peppery notes, like black pepper, linger on the palate. This medium body wine is perfect with steak and lamb.
White wine with white meat is the guide most people use to pair their food with wine. This is a safe rule to use for the most part, but there are times you can break the rules. Today we are breaking the rules. Grilled chicken on the bone or a fatty pork chops can be enjoyed with a red wine.
2013 Barbera, Crow Vineyard
Do not let the Barbera’s dark color fool you. It’s color is synonymous with full body red wines, but is composition is really a medium body wine. Bright cherries, and strawberries are on the nose. Green pepper and cinnamon is on the palate. Medium tannins, high acid and a medium finish describe the wine. It will complete fatter white meat dishes without stealing the spotlight.
We are breaking the rules again and pairing red wine with white meat. Light red whites do well with big flavor fish. Salmon, tuna, swordfish and other fatty, meaty fish can hold its own when it is enjoyed with a light red wine.
Sangiovese, Running Hare Vineyard
Running Hare’s Sangiovese is a light body red wine. Sour cherries and currants on the palate and nose. It has minerality and medium tannins. The wine’s medium acidity is why it does not over power the fish’s flavors.
You can purchase the wines online, just visit their websites. You can contact the vineyards to locate where you can purchase the wines at local wine stores or restaurants.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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Tired of the traditional cookout, or going to the grandparents for Independence day? Try going to a Maryland winery or vineyard! I know you wonder, what do I do with the kids? No worries, bring the kids. Yes, the wineries are indeed kid friendly. In fact, there will be many activities for the little one to participate in. The activities range from getting their faces painted, to arts and crafts, so let the kids enjoy themselves bounce while you indulge on some mouth-watering wines. In honor of our Independence Day, several wineries across the state will be hosting events. Here are a few events that will occur this weekend.
Don’t wait until Saturday to get the festivities started! Start a day early! On July 3, Basignani Winery having a movie night to kick things off. Bring your blankets and lawn chairs and enjoy Mama Mia while sipping on some of their luscious wines. A small fee of $12 covers the movie, popcorn, and wine tasting. This event will run from 6:00PM- 11:00PM on Friday night. Get your tickets today!
Join Big Cork Vineyard Saturday, from 2:00pm -5:00pm for their 4th of July BBQ. They will have numerous food vendors loved by all. For the kids, they will have a bouncy house, balloon animals and face painting. Admission is free, so pack up your car and go!
Running Hare Vineyard is hosting a fourth of July event also. Check out their 4th of July in the Vineyard. Enjoy Pizza Nocciano’s irresistible wood-fired pizza. Running Hare Vineyard shares its home with Calvert’s Brewing Company. Calvert’s Brewing Company’s will be serving beers. Angie Miller will be performing live from 1:00PM-5:00PM, then from 6:00PM-10:00PM the Hot Buttered Nuggets will entertain you well into the night. A small price of $8 covers all of the beer and wine tastings as well as the live music.
Visit Maryland Wine Association for more information and to find an event near you this weekend. Check out the site today! Have a safe and enjoyable Independence Day celebration!