The tasting room was filled with young women making toasts, crowding the bar while the owner gave the ladies a taste of several wines to find what they liked best. They were having a lot of fun on a Saturday afternoon.
Turns out it was a bachelorette party. I even knew the driver of their party bus parked outside.
So maybe you’re thinking of having a girls day (or night) out, especially before a wedding. Rather than head for the farther Virginia wineries, consider several in Southern Maryland.
And definitely get a driver.
So which ones do you pick? How many can you visit? Whose tasting room is a don’t miss?
Figure on three tasting rooms. After that, things might get a little fuzzy. Indeed, pace yourself at the first stop. If time is no problem, here are a few tasting rooms spread out in Southern Maryland.
First stop is Robin Hill Farms and Vineyards in Brandywine. It’s a multi-generational farm now run by Susan Watson-White and Bob White. You get the chill atmosphere of a farm while drinking inside or outside a converted tobacco barn.
The tasting room overlooks 3,000 vines over 4½ acres that produces more than 1,000 cases of wine annually. Maybe you’ll see farm animals, too.
“People want an experience,” Susan said. “They want somewhere to go so when they come here they’re visiting a working farm and seeing the animals and pastures. It’s an affordable one-day staycation. Somebody from Baltimore Googles what they can do for a day and find us.”
And maybe you’ll see a wedding or book your own there as Robin Hill has expanded into becoming a wedding venue, too.
OK, back on the bus and head to Fridays Creek Winery in Owings where a converted tobacco barn has an upstairs hall perfect for weddings, bridal showers and bachelorette parties. The nearby 12 acres of grapes along the Patuxent River produce 12 wines for owners Frank and Richard Cleary, including a blackberry wine each spring.
The Clearys are traditionalists so you’re more likely to see the classic red and white wines rather than hybrids.
“Maryland wine has seen some serious chemistry the last 10 years,” Frank 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.”
A few samplings later and you’re back on the bus to Port of Leonardtown in Leonardtown, which often has music on weekends and a large room away from the bar area to spread out and have fun. Nice weather means heading out to a lighted patio, too.
Lauren Zimmerman’s reputation as a brilliant winemaker clearly was well deserved with The Barbera Reserve 2015 (red) along with Old Line Red 2015 (red blend) both winning Best in Class. The winery also collected seven gold medals.
“The reason we’re so successful with red blends is because we have 25 varieties where many wineries have five or six,” Zimmerman said. “I have so many variations to blend and re-blend to find the perfect blend. It’s a recipe for success when having so many options.
“Finding the right grape varieties is essential. We learned the hard way which varieties work and have found some real winners. The Albarino, Cabernet Franc, Barbera and Chambourcin grow very well here.”
Well, all bachelorette parties must end, though there are certainly other local tasting rooms to try. After visiting these three, consider buying a few bottles for your wedding, too.
After all, everyone enjoys celebrating with a good wine.