Joe and I had our first full day together in two weeks on Saturday. We had picked up some pamphlets on local wineries at Great Grapes in July, so I suggested we follow the Frederick Wine Trail. Frederick County has done a great job of trying to market their wineries, and we fell for it hook, line and sinker. Any semi-knowledgeable wine drinker will tell you that Maryland wines leave MUCH to be desired, but we are always on the hunt for nice scenery, so we hit the road.
First stop, Elk Run Vineyard in Mt. Airy. Tastings were $4 for 5 wines, so we indulged. Our favorite was the 2006 Liberty Tavern Reserve Chardonnay. Very warm and buttery, aged in oak barrels. We learned that the Elk Run Pinot Noir is produced from the only Pinot Noir grapes that are actually grown in Maryland! Pinot Noir is a very delicate grape to grow and is usually best suited to the Pacific northwest. It was a good wine, but not great.
Joe grabbed a glass of the champagne, I took the Chardonnay, and we went outside to sit on a picnic table overlooking 10 acres of vines. The grapes were still swelling on the vines, which we'd somehow never seen anywhere else. Gorgeous variations of green, blue, and purple grapes just fattening up for a September harvest. The backdrop was the Elk Run homestead, built in 1756. I talked to the teenage boy living there now and asked if it was haunted. He told me stories about how a man died dozens of years ago in his parents' room and they sometimes hear the floorboards creaking at night when everyone's in bed! Another night, his brother, who sleeps next to the 2nd floor porch, woke up to see a man standing on the porch outside his window! Ah! I love it!
But moving on. We knew we wanted to sit outside at our next vineyard, so we drove about 15 miles to Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard in Dickerson, outside of Bethesda and Rockville. The tasting room is attached to a beautifully restored red barn, and the fermentation tanks are completely visible inside a modern glass building with floor to ceiling windows. We did a tasting here as well, and then I got sangria and a fruit and cheese plate for us to share on the brick terrace.
We recently talked to Sugarloaf staff at Great Grapes, and they'd mentioned their plans to open this outdoor terrace for tastings and entertainment. It was great! They had about 15 wrought iron tables with umbrellas set up for you to enjoy their wine and listen to live music. People brought their dogs (including an ENORMOUS Great Dane and a Weimaraner), and we listed to an acoustic set with a guitar and upright bass. Had ourselves a little sing-along.
It was the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Until Joe, bless his heart, started falling asleep in his chair. Wine tasting when you're post-call maybe isn't the best idea :) He was exhausted.
So back to Baltimore we went and finished off the day with live blues at Bertha's in Fell's Point.