Farm fresh is the buzzword nowadays. Straight from the ground to your mouth and nobody does it better than the wine industry.
But Frank and Richard Cleary have really gone the distance by planting blackberries and blueberries alongside their grapevines over 12 acres in Owings, Md. And come spring when the blackberries are ripe, there’s a special wine to be made and an explosion of delightful flavor in your mouth.
It’s something special.
“Everything on the menu comes out of our vineyard,” Frank Cleary said.
Home builders by trade, the Clearys purchased part of the vast farm of legendary Dr. Hugh Walter Ward, who was known for delivering more than 5,000 babies during his 49-year medical practice in Calvert County in the mid-20th century.
The family opted to farm part of the land like Ward that was within 1,000 feet of the Patuxent River shoreline. The former tobacco farm now has 9,200 vines that were first started in 2005 with the help of those at nearby Swann Farms known for its delicious produce. There’s also a half acre of vines by the nearby tasting room at 3485 Chaneyville Rd. so those venturing from Baltimore and Annapolis can see how the wine is grown.
The tasting room has quite a history, dating back to circa 1940 when used for stripping and drying tobacco plus milking cows. Nowadays, you can see how the wine is made in the former stripping area while the upstairs that once housed drying tobacco stalks is now a large area for hosting events, including music soon.
“We’re giving the barn a second life,” Frank Cleary said.
The tasting room is open Thursdays to Mondays where the winery’s 12 wines are offered. Indeed, Friday’s Creek produced more than 1,000 cases in 2017 so there’s plenty of opportunity to try some exquisite wine, especially reds that seem to be most favored.
“Maryland wine has seen some serious chemistry the last 10 years,” Frank Cleary said. “It comes down to good grapes to create high-quality wine. People that know a little bit about red wine are the ones who come and seem impressed by what’s going on.”
Fridays Creek seems to thrive on traditional wines. The Barbara is classic Italian red wine with vanilla and dark cherry with a smoked tannin finish. The Chambousin is a French-American red hybrid with wild cherry remindful of a Merlot and a clean finish via woody tannins. The Blush is a sweet wine with fruity aromas.
The whites include a Chardonel, Traminette and Vidal Blanc. The Chardonel is lightly oaked and comes from the land near the river, which is maybe why it goes so well with stuffed rockfish and shellfish as well as chicken and salads. The Traminette Vinter Reserve 2014 balances sweetness with apricot and spicy fruit. The Vidal Blanc is known for its honeysuckle and light fruit.
You’re getting the classics.
“[My brother said] We’re not going to do mango. I’m not putting flavors into our grapes,” Frank Cleary said. “If we want to buy juice from upstate New York and add five flavors that’s a different story.”
So let’s get the story straight – if you want an authentic experience on a famed Southern Maryland farm with classic wines fresh from the earth, Fridays Creek Winery awaits you.