Spending a Saturday seeing multiple wineries is a summer dream. But, we all have things to do so Calvert County offers a mixture of wineries, vineyards and storefronts that save time while making three stops.
Coming from Washington, down Rt. 4, your first stop is Fridays Creek Winery at 3485 Chaneyville Road, Owings, MD 20736 where vivacious general manager Frank Cleary is your new friend. It’s a fun venue that was once a dairy and tobacco barn and part of a farm owned by a local doctor who delivered some 5,000 babies. Be sure to see the upstairs that’s perfect for parties.
Twelve acres of vines are nearby along the Patuxent River, but there is a half acre of grapes you can wander through by the tasting room. With winemaker Richard Cleary, Fridays Creek offers both classic and contemporary wines ranging from a Chardonel, Traminette and Vidal Blanc to a blackberry wine grown alongside the grapes.
“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.”
OK, saddle up. Let’s head about to Solomons Island Winery at 14575 Solomons Island Rd S, Solomons, MD 20688.
Now this winery only has a small tasting area available while the vines are across the river. But, it has a killer view of the water, close parking and even cheese to enjoy with your wine.
Manager Melissa Korando and Lori Van Gordan can entertain and educate on the many great wines. The winery has anything from French reds to classic whites, but we suggest trying dessert wines here. You must sample the chocolate raspberry port that says hello with dark chocolate and farewell via raspberry. The Orange Cinnamon Cream, Riesling Icewine and Lillet are winners, too. Remember, God gave you two hands to take two bottles to go.
Now turn that car around and head to Running Hare Vineyard at 150 Adelina Rd, Prince Frederick, MD 20678. This place will blow your mind. Think Tuscany has come to Southern Maryland when seeing the large mansion atop the hill.
“Our intent is to recreate memories of the gentle hills of France, the beauty of Tuscany and the feel of Napa” says each and every label of some 15 wines now produced on the estate.
The 8,400-square foot building on the 291-acre estate of former judge Perry Bowen used to be a tobacco farm that like most others is gone. But some 3,000 cases of excellent wine come from the sloping hills nowadays.
How about a Chilean Malbec, a peppery wine aged for two years in oak barrels. The Pinot Grigio’s citrus taste and the Riesling’s smell of flowers are perfect for outdoor outings. And the Sangiovese, well get ready for cranberry and black cherry with a hint of dry cocoa and vanilla that makes your glass empty in no time.
“It all starts with great grapes,” said Running Hare’s wine maker Jerson Garcia. “People want something new so we’ll work with the wine and starting blending to look for something that tastes good. People like sweet wine on a hot day.
“It’s always exciting to see what’s going on every year with the grapes. We try to have a little of everything.”
It’s always exciting to see what local wineries offer on a warm summer afternoon. And best yet, they’re not that far from the Washington beltway.