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2 Days of Blissful Touring in North Carolina Wine Country

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A WHISPERING WILLOW
BRUSHES ACROSS YOUR FOREARM
as you sway in a tattered wooden rocking chair. The deeply
purple pinot noir splashes gently against the sides of the
glass—releasing scents of blackberries and dark chocolate.
The vineyards of the North Carolinian winery stretch before
you, dust lazily wafting through the rays of dusky sunlight.
“What a visage!” you conclude as you calmly sip the last of
the local noir —a blanket of cicadas chirp across the vines.

It’s a weekend of wine tucked away on a quaint trail in North Carolina. From
the city of Charlotte to the shores of Lake Norman, this is some of the best
wine you’ll find during your vintage vacation.

Getting There

Although North Carolina is a smaller state, there are quite a few airports in the area. This gives you a variety of travel options for your trip.

Charlotte Douglas International Airport: This is the most centrally located airport and is smack dab in the big city of Charlotte. In 2010, CDI received an award for “best airport” in the U.S. (not to mention it has excellent prices).

Piedmont Triad International Airport: In the northern part of the state, the next largest airport is Piedmont Triad. Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, it’s just as reasonable as the Charlotte Douglas and really just depends on where you are flying in from.

Wilmington International Airport: A smaller airport, Wilmington is still international. It is highly unusual that a smaller state has more than 1 international airport, so you really have your pick of locations

Driving

If you are driving into the state for your wine tour, the following are some easy routes to remember:

I-85 South from Richmond, VA

I-77 North from Columbia, SC

I-40 East from Knoxville, TN

Friday

North Carolina is alive with whimsical vineyards and themed wineries, and the first stop on your tour is a prime example.

Treehouse Vineyards

Named after the three treehouses that sit on the property, the vineyards also rent them out. In 2004, springing from that idea, the family-owned farm planted 8 different varieties of Muscadines. They officially opened to the public in 2010 and have been going strong ever since.

Scattered across the property are wooden rocking chairs, picnic tables, and lazy swings. Wine tastings are done 7 days a week at the top of the hour and are $6 per person. If you want to take a bottle or two home, try the Crystal Creek, a semi-dry white, or their Tack Shack Red, a sweet noble.

Hilton Vineyard

Right down the street lies the quaint Hilton Vineyard Wine Bar where all wines are hand poured, hand crafted, and double waxed with two different colors. 100% of all their wines are grown, fermented, and bottled in Union County (except for the mangoes).

After making wine for over 20 years for family and friends, the Hiltons decided to open to the public in 2010. Their retail store is open 7 days a week with tastings happening all day long. For good take-home ideas, try the Apple Riesling or their best-selling Mango Wine.

Before downing more vino, why not catch a break by checking out some local scenery? North Carolina is known for it’s old gold mines, and the Reed Gold Mine is a historic site down the street from Hilton’s. At Reed’s, can explore restored mine tunnels and even pan for your own gold.

Lure Oyster Bar

At this point you are probably famished. If you crave oysters with your vintage, Lure Oyster Bar is a happening spot with fantastic fare. Try the Oysters Rockefeller if you want to melt into your seat.

Oysters aren’t for everyone, however, and you might just want something a little easier to stomach. Duckworth’s Grill and Taphouse serves delectable American food at a fair price. The Mongolian Beef Flatbread will fill you up for sure.

Aloft Charlotte Ballantyne

After a full day and a big meal, you may just need someone to roll you over to the Aloft hotel. With a thriving bar scene, bed might not be an option just yet. Or you can settle for swim in their indoor heated pool.

Saturday

Wakeup, Buttercup, your journey’s just begun. It’s day two of your tour so you may need some strong coffee. For a quick breakfast a block away from the first vineyard, hit up the Sunrise Grill. It’s your typical coffee, eggs, and pancakes joint but it will solidify your stomach for the rest of the morning.

Rocky River Vineyards

Planting the first vines in 2003, the Rocky River Vineyards opened to the public in August of 2007, and has been going strong ever since. Holding annual spring and fall festivals, the family-owned winery grows Carlos and Noble Muscadine grapes and ferments all wines on site in stainless steel tanks.

The winery has a gift shop and a tasting room nestled in a wooded glen with stone masonry and a bubbling brook. Tastings are $8 per person for 8 types of wines. You can also take a self-guided walking tour of the property should you feel inclined. The tasting room hours vary so it’s best to call ahead of your visit. Some of their finest vintages include Chambourcin Dry, a full-bodied red with aromas of mocha, and the Niagara, which is sweet with a nose of jasmine.

Cougar Run

Offering hand-crafted wine made in small batches, Cougar Run Winery was named after the owner’s run-in with a wild cougar—and he’ll tell you the story himself at your tasting. What is also unique to this winery is that they are genuinely interested in teaching others about the craft of wine-making itself, and sell an assortment of items for doing so.

The winery is closed on Mondays and the hours vary the rest of the week, so it’s best to call ahead. Tastings are $5 per person, which buys you a sample of 6 wines. Flights start at $12. When you are ready to jam, grab a bottle of their Gentle Spirit to go. It’s a Bergamais red. Or if you enjoy a sweeter wine, their Summer Sunlight is a tangerine flavored Pinot Grigio.

The Charlotte Motor Speedway

For a break in the tour, why not explore some of what North Carolina is known for, like fast racing cars? The Charlotte Motor Speedway hosts year-round events that will get your blood pumping and your adrenaline rushing. It’s the perfect intermission between a relaxing and tasty day of vino.

The speedway is located within a few miles of Lake Norman, the largest body of water in the state. It also happens to be a breathtakingly beautiful shoreline.

The Lake Norman Winery

Creating special blends from barreled wine combinations, the Lake Norman Winery is setting itself apart from everyone else. Additionally, they will create custom labels for any bottles that you purchase. All tastings and sales must be scheduled ahead of time, but with a little planning, it’s well worth it. For wine by-the-bottle, try their 2014 Lakeside Chardonnay, with flowers and notes of grapefruit, or the 2013 Catamaran Pinot Noir, with red cherry and raspberry flavors.

For a hearty dinner to top off the day, roll up to the Smoke Modern Barbecue. After all, you cannot leave North Carolina without a good old fashioned BBQ. For a true southern meal, start with the Fried Pickles before you dig into the Baby Back Ribs.

Instead of a hotel for the evening, why not opt for a cute cottage on the water? The Condos at Harborside are surprisingly affordable for being an entire living space, and they will rent to parties for just one night (almost unheard of with vacation condos).

Sunday

When you wake up on a lake, you should at least consider jumping in a boat for a bit. At Westport Marina, you can rent a boat for the morning for under $200. Add on a tube if you’re feeling adventurous, or bring a picnic and lounge on the boat.

Vesuvius

The last stop on the trip is an incredibly beautiful vineyard aptly named Vesuvius. Located at one of the oldest standing homes this side of the country, the estate was built in the 1700’s. They generally only host events, but if you give them a call, they’re open to tours. You simply don’t want to miss these grounds before you go. It’s photo-op central.

North Carolina is a state rich in history with a fairly new wine country. As it continues to grow and more people discover the wine secrets that it holds, the wine trails will become more like beaten paths. Take your indomitable spirit and book your next weekend in North Carolina today. The wine adventure of a lifetime awaits and it still has secrets to be discovered.

Wineries

Sneaky Meade Winery: 3040 Ed Reid St, Charlotte, NC 28216 | (704) 299-7468.

The Vineyards on Lake Wylie: 5102 Casper Dr, Charlotte, NC 28214 | (704) 394-9780

Dennis Vineyards Winery: 24043 Endy Rd, Albemarle, NC 28001 | (704) 982-6090

UwHarrie Vineyards & Winery: 28030 Austin Rd, Albemarle, NC 28001 | (704) 982-9463

Douglas Vineyards: 7696 Freeze Rd, Kannapolis, NC 28081 | (704) 939-6260

Morgan Ridge Vineyards: 486 John Morgan Rd, Gold Hill, NC 28071 | (704) 639-0911

Treehouse Vineyards: 301 Bay St, Monroe, NC 28122, 704-283-4208

Hilton Vineyard: 104 S Main St, Monroe, NC 28122, 704-776-9656

Rocky River Vineyards: 11685 Reed Mine Rd, Midland, NC 28107, 704-781-5035

Cougar Run Winery: 363 Church St N, Concord, NC 28025, 704-788-2746

Lake Norman Winery: 10508 Bailey Rd, Cornelius, NC 28031, 704-840-2116

Vesuvius Vineyards: 6173 Vesuvius Furnace Rd, Iron Station, NC 28080, 704-996-1566

Places to Eat

The Melting Pot: Providence Place, 199 Providence Pl, Providence, RI 02903 | (401) 865-6670

Safari Mile: 390 N Highway 16, Denver, NC 28037 | (704) 489-2366

Kindred: 131 N Main St, Davidson, NC 28036 | (980) 231-5000

Heirloom Restaurant: 8470 Bellhaven Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28216 | 704.595.7710

131 Main Cornelius: 17830 Statesville Rd, Cornelius, NC 28031 | (704) 896-0131

Duckworth’s Grill and Taphouse: 560 River Hwy, Mooresville, NC 28117 | (704) 799-2881

Flying Biscuit Café: 4241 Park Rd, Charlotte, NC 28209 | (704) 714-3400

Place to Stay

Charleston Grand Hotel: 3640 Dorchester Rd, North Charleston, SC 29405 | (843) 554-4140

Hilton Charlotte University Place: 8629 J M Keynes Dr, Charlotte, NC 28262 | (704) 547-7444

The Westin Charlotte: 601 S College St, Charlotte, NC 28202 | (704) 375-2600

Renaissance Charlotte South Park Hotel: 5501 Carnegie Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28209 | (704) 501-2510

Candlewood Suites Mooresville Lake Norman: 3247 Charlotte Hwy, Mooresville, NC 28117 | (704) 360-4899

Omni Charlotte Hotel: 132 E Trade St, Charlotte, NC 28202 | (704) 377-0400

Sleep inn Northlake: 6300 Banner Elk Dr, Charlotte, NC 28216 | (704) 399-7778

Activities

The Golf Club at Ballantyne Resort: 10000 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy, Charlotte, NC 28277 | (704) 248-4383

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden: 6500 S New Hope Rd, Belmont, NC 28012 | (704) 825-4490

U.S. National Whitewater Center: 5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy, Charlotte, NC 28214 | (704) 391-3900

Charlotte Motor Speedway: 5555 Concord Pkwy S, Concord, NC 28027 | (704) 455-3200

Historic Latta Plantation: 5225 Sample Rd, Huntersville, NC 28078 | (704) 875-2312

Carowinds Amusement Park: 14523 Carowinds Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28273 | (704) 588-2600

 

Surrender to Southwestern Michigan’s Wine Trail Adventure

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CLOSING YOUR EYES YOU CAN HEAR THE GULLS KEOWING calmly as the sun sizzles over the horizon of Lake Michigan. You gaze on as it slowly transforms the sky into iridescent shades of soft violet hues. spicy florals of the region invade your senses. You didn’t have to travel far this weekend to get to this spot right here—and you are glad you made the call. Inhaling deeply from your wide brimmed glass of Traminette, spicy florals of the region invade your senses. You didn’t have to travel far this weekend to get to this spot right here—and you are glad you made the call.

Michigan is abounding with wine trails throughout the state, and there’s enough fun to fill every weekend. The southwestern part of the MI (near the border), and along the shores of Lake Michigan, is home to over 20 different wineries in the area. Once you’re in, you needn’t travel too far to have a good time.

Getting There

When flying into Michigan, you have a variety of choices for airports. Just keep in mind that some of these routes are a little more affordable than others.

Main Airport: The Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport is a three-hour drive west, but it is the closest main airport in Michigan (in case you were doing other sightseeing in the state).

• Closest – cheap: The airport that requires the least amount of travel time would be out-of-state in Indiana. The South Bend International Airport is only a 30-minute drive south from your weekend wine trail.

• Closest – VIP: The Southwest Michigan Regional Airport is located right in the middle of wine country. It may not be for everyone’s budget, so call ahead when planning your flights.

Michigan is cradled by the great lakes, but this wine trail is on the border. When you are driving in, there are only a few main roads to get there from the rest of the country. Once you are in-state, it’s pretty simple to get to your wine trail starting point.

 
• I-90 West from Toledo, Ohio
• I-69 North from Fort Wayne, Indiana
• I-94 North from Gary, Indiana

Friday

Michigan is about sunsets, good wine, and good times. The southwestern part of the state
(along the shores of Lake Michigan) is topped with fertile soil that provides the perfect
nourishment for vineyards. As your wine trail adventure begins, you’ll soon discover why
Michigan is where it’s at when it comes to wine.

 
Grand Mere State Park

Before you get too far down the tasting rabbit hole, check out Grand Mere State Park for some keen photo ops. The park runs a mile along the shoreline and is known for its rolling sand dunes and in-shore lakes. It’s also super close to where you check-in for the first night of your trip.

Waverland Beach Bed & Breakfast

A quaint accommodation, Waverland B&B literally has it’s own road right on the water (with no one else around). The B&B also plays host to a private beach, hot tub, sauna, and everything else you need to encourage your wino ways. Throw your bags on the bed and head over to your first winery.

Gravity Vineyards and Winery

Family-owned and operated, Gravity Winery’s claim is that they “do things a little differently.” Their 2,000 square foot tasting room is open every day (the schedule varies by season) where they offer their signature flight pairing. You select 4 glasses of wine which are then paired perfectly with palate pleasing samples (say that 5 times fast).

Their outdoor patio accommodates over 40 people and there is also seating on a large wooden deck overlooking the bay. During your visit, go for a taste of the Peaceful White, a crisp Chardonnay substitute, or their Peach Paradise—part of an exotic line of fruit wines.

Tabor Hill Winery & Restaurant

Why not kill two birds with one stone? The next stop on your tour is the ideal place to sample local wines while enjoying an incredible dinner. The vaulted dining space serves up regional fare like the Lake Superior Walleye stuffed with spinach and roasted beets. For wines, order the Tabor Hill Pinot Gris, a light-bodied white, or the Tabor Hill Dry Traminette, bursting with intense florals.

Howard Performing Arts Center 

If you are itching to catch some entertainment in the area, the Howard Performing Arts Center at Andrew’s University has a packed calendar year round of shows put on by performing artists, students, and the local community. Shows include events like “Vienna Boys Choir,” “Wind Symphony Vespers,” and the “Lake Michigan Orchestra.” Ticket prices range from $15-$30 depending on the event.

Saturday

Grab breakfast at Waverland (their home cooking is delish) and head out on the next leg of your Michigan wine country tour. First stop: Dablon.

Dablon Vineyards & Winery

Producing some of the best grown and bottled wines in the region, the 44-acre vineyard was established in 2009 with 4-acres of Chardonnay and 4-acres of Pinot Noir. Since then, the winery has expanded rapidly. The tasting room at Dablon features an arcing granite bar, fireplace, and patio overlooking their rolling vineyards.

Samples start at $12 for 6 wines and the tasting room is open 7 days a week. If you are going to grab a bottle for the road, try the 2013 Dablon Pinot Noir with spicy hints of cherry, or their 2014 Music Box Sweet Seyval Blanc, with sweet honey and citrus.

Domaine Berrien Cellars

Just down the street is another local winery known as Domaine Berrien. Priding themselves on their dry reds and Rhone varietals, they are the first winery in Michigan to grow and vinify Syrah. The winery is on the smaller side, but their tasting room is open every day from 12 p.m.- 5 p.m.

The tasting fee is $10 per person and includes a souvenir glass. They currently grow 21 different varieties of grapes, so the sky is the limit on their custom crafted vintages.

Lemon Creek Winery

Right around the corner from Domaine Berrien (all of these wineries are within a few miles of each other) lies Lemon Creek Winery. The family-owned winery was established by the Lemon ancestors in 1855 and remains successful to this day.

With over 31 years of winemaking, the winery has earned hundreds of awards over the years with their impressive collection of red, white, and specialty wines. Their tasting room is open 7 days a week and features different prices on tastings (starting at $8 for 5 standard wines). The tasting room also houses special events, pick your own fruit, and live winemaking sessions.

For take-homes and wines by the bottle, try their 2013 Riesling with notes of crisp apple, or the 2013 Merlot Reserve with subtle barrel toast aromas.

Four Winds Casino

Just because you are in wine country, it doesn’t mean you can’t get down with a little gambling. After a long day on the wine trail, what better way to unwind than to throw the dice on some tables, catch a show, order room service, and top the night off with a hot-stone massage? The casino also has several places to dine and a shopping promenade (if you still have any shred of energy left).

Sunday

You know you’ve had fun when you’re dead on Sunday. Use this day to recover and explore before you head back to your normal life.

Head down Whitaker Street for the best shopping in the area. From surf stores to posh art galleries, you are sure to find something as a souvenir. The street ends at New Buffalo Beach and Marina. Have lunch at the Terrace Room while the boats laze easily on the water. A hidden gem on the New Buffalo waterfront, the restaurant features rustic Italian fare paired perfectly with—of course—local wines. Try the Grilled Branzino with roasted cauliflower, or the Skuna Bay Salmon with sautéed escarole.

The greatest thing about Michigan wine trails is that they are the best-kept secret in the country. There wouldn’t be 20 or so wineries popping up in one place if it wasn’t prime pickins. Forget about Sonoma, who cares about Napa Valley, Southwestern Michigan has everything you need to whisk yourself away for a weekend of good food, amazing scenes, and of course, incredible wine!

 

Wineries

Gravity Vineyards and Winery:10220 Lauer Rd, Baroda, MI 49101 | (269) 471-9463 12

Corners Vineyards: 1201 N Benton Center Rd, Benton Harbor, MI 49022 | (269) 927-1512

Dablon Vineyards & Winery: 111 W Shawnee Rd, Baroda, MI 49101 | (269) 422-2846

Lemon Creek Winery: 533 E Lemon Creek Rd, Berrien Springs, MI 49103 | (269) 471-1321

Karma Vista Vineyards and Winery: 6991 Ryno Rd, Coloma, MI 49038 | (269) 468-9463

Hickory Creek Winery: 750 Browntown Rd, Buchanan, MI 49107 | (269) 422-1100

Domaine Berrien Cellars: 398 E Lemon Creek Rd, Berrien Springs, MI 49103 | (269) 473-9463

Places to Eat

Tabor Hill Winery & Restaurant: 185 Mt Tabor Rd, Buchanan, MI 49107 | (269) 422-1161

Lake Street Eats: 4228 Lake St, Bridgman, MI 49106 | (269) 465-3287

D’Agostino’s Italian Restaurant and The Navajo Lounge: 8970 Red Arrow Hwy, Bridgman, MI 49106 (269) 465-3434 221

Main: 221 Main St, St Joseph, MI 49085 | (269) 982-4000

Copper Rock Steakhouse: 11111 Wilson Road, New Buffalo, MI 49117 | (866) 494-6371

Frankie’s Other Place: 16036 Red Arrow Hwy, Union Pier, MI 49129 | (269) 469-9865

Santaniello’s Glenlord Restaurant: 2262 W Glenlord Rd, Stevensville, MI 49127 | (269) 429-3966

Full Circle Café & Espresso Bar: 5729 St Joseph Ave, Stevensville, MI 49127 | (269) 429-8696

Grande Mere Inn: 5800 Red Arrow Highway, Stevensville, MI 49127 | (269) 429-3591

Places to Stay

Waverland Beach Bed & Breakfast: 7022 Waverland Path, Stevensville, MI 49127 | (269) 465-5777

Dove Nest Bed and Breakfast: 5000 Scottsdale Rd, St Joseph, MI 49085 | (269) 429-2211

The Painted Turtle Inn: 3205 Lakeshore Dr, St Joseph, MI 49085 | (269) 982-9463

South Cliff Inn: 1900 Lakeshore Dr, St Joseph, MI 49085 | (269) 983-4881

Rabbit Run Inn: 6227 Elm Dr, Sawyer, MI 49125 | (269) 405-1050

Duncan House Bed and Breakfast: 1117 State St, St Joseph, MI 49085 | (269) 930-9698

The Boulevard Inn & Bistro: 521 Lake Blvd, St Joseph, MI 49085 | (269) 983-6600

Activities

The Heritage Museum & Cultural Center: 601 Main St, St Joseph, MI 49085 | (269) 983-1191

Weko Beach: Stevensville, MI 49127

Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve: 13988 Range Line Road, Niles, MI 49120 | (269) 695-6491

Revive Spa: 313 Main St, St Joseph, MI 49085 | (269) 982-3800

Lana’s Boutique: 400 State St, St Joseph, MI 49085 | (269) 983-8777

Four Winds Casino: 11111 Wilson Rd., New Buffalo, MI 49117 | (866) 494-6370

Moments in Mount Airy, Maryland

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Heading West Through The Foothills of The Applachians

Rolling vineyards unfold around you. The countryside blooms with tiny globes in muted shades of purple, red, and rose; their juices bursting at the skin. You’re in Mount Airy wine country. A little slice of Maryland heaven that only the ad-venturous winos have traversed.

You slowly roll up to your first vineyard, the gravel underneath crinkling with an excited melody of anticipation. The varietals in this wine country are brilliant, but you’re no wine snob… you just know a good one when you taste it. As you settle into your rustic picnic on the veranda, you gaze out over the bounding mountainous expanse while sipping a sultry Syrah. Ahhhh now THIS is a Maryland weekend wine getaway.

Although Sonoma is synonymous with wine, Maryland is not to be missed. Check out a snapshot of what you could be doing next weekend in Mount Airy:

Friday

Maryland is in the northeastern part of the country but it’s not part of New England, and it’s certainly not the south either. Housing Washington, D.C., the state is unique to itself.

The main airport in the Maryland is the centrally located Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. Davis airport is located right in the middle of Mount Airy wine country, but it only services smaller planes. There is no public transportation in the Mount Airy wine trail region, so you will want to rent a car when you land.

DRIVING: When driving in, follow these routes based on your direction:

West: I-70 from Baltimore, MD

• East: I-70 from Frederick, MD

North: I-270 from Washington, D.C.

South: Rte 15 from Gettysburg, PA

Black Ankle Vineyards

Less than an hour drive from the Baltimore airport lands you with a glass of wine in your hand at the Black Ankle Vineyards. Nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, the rolling knolls of the vineyards serve as the home to a variety of delicious grapes that produce some of the area’s finest wines.

Black Ankle Vineyards is named after the rustic road and the winding trails that thread through the hills. Their tasting room is open by appointment and comes with a picnic selection of locally sourced meats and cheeses. Sample their Passeggiata IX a simple, – earthy Syrah, or the 2015 Albarino, a bold and fruity white.

Take a Break

While you are in the area, a cool place to check out that is right down the street is Twins Polish Pottery. Incredibly unique, the warehouse sits down a dusty country road and is run by a friendly set of twins and their families. All of the pottery is handmade, reasonably priced, and fills the 2-story complex form top to bottom. Even if you aren’t going to buy, no worries, people literally travels for hours just to browse their wares.

Elk Run Vineyards

Elk Run is named after a local river and was established in 1983. October-April they hold “wine downs” with cozy fire pits, intimate music, and wine trivia. Their tasting room hours vary by day and season, so it’s best to call first. When you get there, try their award winning 2001 Blanc de Blancs, a sparkling signature white, or the Gypsy Rose, a dry rosé with hints of fresh cherry and rose petals.

By now you must be famished, and a smear of cheese on a cracker won’t do. The Brick Ridge is a few minutes south of Elk Run and is the perfect place to nosh. It also has a little regional history. The brick building used to serve as a one-room school- house in which a single teacher taught 20-30 children ages 6 to 20 years in the 1800s. Try their Shrimp and Smoked Gouda Popovers and their Crab Pasta Carbonara. Don’t worry, your final destination for the day has a bed.

After you are done eating, head west on I-70 for half an hour into center of Frederick for a place to decompress.

Hollerston Hill Bed and Breakfast

The Hollerstown Hill Bed & Breakfast, established in 2002, is located in a quiet down- town Frederick neighborhood. The late Victorian is reasonably priced and features carved mantels, fireplaces, period antiques, reproductions, and collectibles. Every morning, a three-course elegant breakfast is served in their handsomely crafted foyer. Since you are in Frederick, you are also close to an assortment of commercial hotels and motels (if the intimacy of a bed and breakfast isn’t your thing).

Saturday

If you are hungry in the a.m. it’s best to grab breakfast/lunch in Frederick. If you are itching to get on the road, Concetta’s Main Street Bistro is a good stop to grab lunch in the area of your next winery.

Loew Vineyards

The Loew family has been making wine since the 1800’s across five generations and three centuries, in which time they have truly perfected the art. The vineyard was planted in the early 1980s and includes 6 different varieties of grapes: Marechal, Leon Millot, Foch, Seyval Blanc, Chancellor, Riesling, and Chardonnay.

The majestic sloping vineyards produce every type of wine from a harvest red to a sweet honey white. Try their award winning Serendipity with hints of mango and citrus. Their Honey & Grape is a complex sweet white that took home the 2015 Gold Medal at the Governer’s Cup. The tasting room is open on the weekends and other days by appointment.

Seasons At Magnolia Manor

Now is a good time to toss your bags on the bed of your room for the night. The Seasons at Magnolia is a historic bed and breakfast with rooms named after classic writers like the Hemingway and the Poe. Rates are reasonable, and the manor features elegant details like hand-carved murals and claw-foot bathtubs.

Once you’ve settled, get ready to head out to your next vineyard, which is only a hop, skip, and glass of wine away.

Step Away

Before you hit your next vineyard, there are a few spots in town you can take a moment to relax.

Sulphur Springs Park sits in the middle of downtown New Windsor, and it a casual place to take a stroll. Try the Atlee Ridge Walking Path near the river.

The Serrv International Gift Shop down the street is truly one-of-a-kind and a unique place to shop. A non-profit for fair-trade and handmade crafts, you are sure to find something in there to take home as a souvenir.

Serpent Ridge Vineyard

One of the first wineries in the Westminster area of Mount Airy, Serpent Ridge is a quaint vineyard that pays close attention to every grape they pick and wine they craft. Opened in 2009, the intimate 2-acre winery features special events like “yoga in the vineyard” and “cheese and chocolate night.”

Each vintage wine is made in small lots and aged in oak or stainless steel. The bottles are then sealed with a Zork (a new innovative approach to bottle closures). The – winery’s tasting room is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, but every other day they are serving up some of their special wines like the 2012 Vitner’s Cabernet, an aged red with hints of blackberry, or their signature Serpent Kiss, a Vidal wine infused with white chocolate.

If you are starting to get hunger pains, head over to the Mount Airy Inn to cap off your night with a hearty regional dinner. They serve up American classics like steak, burgers, and a variety of brick oven pizzas. Try the innovative Bay Harbor Pizza with scallops and local blue crab (you’ll want to order 4 more to-go).

Sunday

A Sunday on any weekend wine tour should always help you wind down. Take your time with breakfast on this one. Luckily, the Olde Town Restaurant nearby serves breakfast all day, so fear not if you’re hitting the snooze on your checkout. When you get there, try their famous Chesapeake Benedict, a delicious take on the norm topped with (of course) meaty Maryland crab chunks.

When breakfast is done, head 15 minutes west to your last winery on your weekend whirlwind wine tour.

Linganore Winecellars

Planted in the fertile soils of an old dairy farm in the 1970s, Linganore Vineyards is rife with varietals that will have your palette dancing. The small vineyard is operated by the sons of the founder and continues to pride itself on relaxing tours, award-winning wines, and joyfully skilled winemakers.

Their tasting room is open 361 days a year with a $5 tasting charge and a free 30-minute tour of the grounds. Make sure you try their incredibly smooth Chardonnay with hints of Carmel and pear, or the Bacioni, a light red with fruit and oak flavor notes

Maryland is home

Home to an unsuspecting wine country, but ripe for the plucking (pun intended). Explor- ing different wines and tastes doesn’t require you to be a connoisseur, or even act like one. Wine is about simple enjoyment—it always had been. Maryland provides the perfect backdrop for a moment away complemented by vast mountainous views, rich local foods, and a fresh regional vintage always at hand.

Mount Airy, Maryland awaits you.

Wineries

Black Ankle Vineyards:14463 Black Ankle Rd, Mt Airy, MD 21771 | (301) 829-3338

Old Westminster Winery & Vineyard: 1550 Old Westminster Rd, Westminster, MD 21157 | (410) 881-4656

Elk Run Vineyards: 15113 Liberty Rd, Mt Airy, MD 21771 | (410) 775-2513

Serpent Ridge Vineyard: 2962 Nicodemus Rd, Westminster, MD 21157 | (410) 848-6511

Loew Vineyards: 14001 Liberty Rd, Mt Airy, MD 21771 | (301) 831-5464

New Market Plains Vineyard: 11111 W. Baldwin Rd New Market, MD 21774 | 240-674-2859

Linganore Winecellars: 13601 Glissans Mill Road, Mt Airy, MD 21771 | (301) 831-5889

Places to Eat

Olde Town Restaurant: 206 S Main St, Mt Airy, MD 21771 | (301) 829-4257

Concetta’s Main Street Bistro: 231 S Main St, Mt Airy, MD 21771 | (301) 829-7571

Laurienzo Brick Oven Cafe: 114 S Main St, Mt Airy, MD 21771 | (301) 829-6900

Town Grill: 15943 Frederick Rd, Woodbine, MD 21797 | (410) 489-5016

Katana Sushi Bar: 1311 S Main St #302, Mt Airy, MD 21771 | (301) 829-9333

Memories Charcoal House: 403 E Ridgeville Blvd, Mt Airy, MD 21771 | (301) 829-2264

Brick Ridge: 6212 Ridge Rd, Mt Airy, MD 21771 | (301) 829-8191

Place to Stay

Hollerstown Hill: 4 Clarke Place, Frederick, MD 21701 | (301) 228-3630

Seasons At Magnolia Manor: 111 Springdale Ave, New Windsor, MD 21776 | (301) 466-6644

Inn at Norwood: 7514 Norwood Ave, Sykesville, MD 21784 | (410) 549-7868

The Columbia Inn at Peralynna: 10605 MD-108, Columbia, MD 21044 | (410) 715-4600

THE WAYSIDE INN: 4344 Columbia Rd, Ellicott City, MD 21042 | (410) 461-4636

Antrim 1844 Country House Hotel: 30 Trevanion Rd, Taneytown, MD 21787 | (410) 756-6812

Atlee House Bed & Breakfast: 120 Water St, New Windsor, MD 21776 | (410) 871-9119

Activities

Gaver Farm: 5501 Detrick Rd, Mt Airy, MD 21771 | (301) 865-3515

La Bella Medispa: 1304 S Main St, Mt Airy, MD 21771 | (301) 829-1800

The Pony Place: 5206 Sidney Rd, Mount Airy, MD | (240) 372-3478

Servv International Gift Shop: 500 Main St, New Windsor, MD | (410) 635-8711

A Chesapeake Wine Trail Escape is Everything you Need This Weekend

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The Waves at the Chesapeake Shore

Slowly tease the pebbly beach as the sun dips behind the Bay Bridge. You sip on a local rosé, twirling an oyster shell in your palms as you laze in a Cape Cod chair. A slow inhale…your eyes crescent moons as the salty breezes washing over you.

“What an incredibly relaxing moment…” the thought rolls around as you finish the last of your crisp and fruity apertif.

The Maryland wine country awaits you and you’re ready for a relaxing weekend of discovery, adventure, friendships, and most importantly, lots and lots of vino.

Maryland is rife with wine trails, but being the adventurous spirit that you are, you’re itching to check out the road less traveled. The northeastern part of the state—on the other side of the Chesapeake Bay— is a lesser explored wine coun- try that is dotted with brick colonials, quaint wineries, and hearty local fare. It’s the perfect place to escape for a weekend and sample some local wines.

Friday

Maryland is in the northeastern part of the country. If you are flying in, chances are you will be landing at the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, located centrally in the state. There is no public transportation in the Chesapeake wine trail region, so you will want to rent a car when you land.

Driving: If you are coming from the:

North: I-95 from Wilmington, DE or rte 213 from PA

South: I-95 from Richmond, VA

East: US-301 through Warwick, DE

West: Rte 50 from Washington, D.C.

BWI Airport: I-97 to Rte 50

Chesapeake Bay Bridge

The Chesapeake Bay is Maryland’s famous expanse of water with a dual-span bridge that connects the eastern and western part of the state. It also separates the state’s rural Eastern Shore region with the urban Western Shore. Built in 1952, the bridge spans over 4 miles and is still one of the longest continuous over-water steel structures in the world.-

You hit land again once you reach Kent Island, 3/4 of the way over the bay. Check out Terrapin Beach Park for prime places to snap a pic of the bridge in all its glory. The 276-acre park features scenic views and a 3.5-mile oyster chaff walking trail that is brilliantly speckled with tide pools and wildflower meadows.

Stop and Enjoy

By now you have probably worked up an appetite from your trip. Kent Island is the perfect place to stop and enjoy one of the main staples that Maryland is famous for—crab.

The Fisherman’s Seafood Market and Crab Deck is a typical New England pier boasting rows of boats docked at the waterfront restaurants, and a fresh seafood market. Don’t leave before you get your first taste of the local wines and your hands dirty with a bucket of crabs.

The Great Oaks

Another 45 minutes north and you’ve hit your first spot to hunker down on your trip. Much like most places to stay in MD wine country, the Great Oak Manor is a beautiful brick Georgian-style bed and breakfast right on the water. The 12-guestroom country-style estate is pet-friendly and serves breakfast every morning.

If you are looking for something a little more upscale, the Mears Great Oak Landing is a stone’s throw away from the B&B. Mears is a 28-room lodge and marina resort with a restaurant, six-hole golf course, and a boat dock. Check out Jellyfish Joel’s Beach Bar on the resort’s sandy shores if you want to end the night with a bang.

Saturday

Fuel up with breakfast at the Great Oaks and get ready to continue your Chesapeake Bay wine tour. A 20-minute drive south on the 213 will take you to the first winery on your stop—Cassinelli’s.

Cassinelli Winery & Vineyards

Along the shores of the Chester River lies the family owned Cassinelli Winery & Vineyards. The boutique winery and distillery is the perfect spot to start your wine tour with a 100-acre farm boasting grape varieties like Merlot, Chardonnay, Viognier, Malbec, Petit Verdot and San Giovese vines.

The winery tasting fee is $8 and the tasting room is open M, F, Sa, Su, at 11:30 am (closing hours vary). Try their deliciously popular 2010 Rosé of Barbera, a crisp wine with strawberry flavor notes and the Bronze medal winner of the Governer’s Cup. For a dryer wine, try the 2010 Vidal, a sweet white with fruity overtones.

Keep in mind, this winery does not serve food, so when you’ve worked up an appetite, head over to the Lemon Leaf Cafe in downtown Chestertown. The homey, quaint outpost serves up sandwiches, steak, pasta, and of course, seafood. Their Baked Crab Imperial is to die for, but they also have a ton of salads too.

At this point, you may want to unload at your lodging for the night, as the rest of the day will unfold in downtown Chestertown.

Crow Farm

Once you get to the point where your even-keeled buzz is evolving into naptime, Crow’s Farm is your haven for rest and relaxation. Owned by the Crow family, the 365-acre farm and winery offer rooms with antique decor and a hearty breakfast in the morning. And if you’re up for it, they also have a tasting room of their own. Besides, you can sleep when you’re dead, right?

Try these award winners on for size:

2015 Barbera Rosé -Double Gold – Governer’s Cup

2014 Chardonnay -Bronze – Governer’s Cup

2015 Vidal Blanc -Gold – International Women’s Wine Competition

To Do:

Once you’re heading back into town (it’s about a 15 minute drive), now’s the time to consider some fun activities outside of drinking (you wino). There are several things to do in downtown Chestertown:

Day: The Chestertown Historic District is home to a plethora of art galleries and small boutiques that you can peruse to your heart’s content. Stop in to some of these galleries in the area for some impressive artwork:

o The Tree of Life Gallery

o The Artist’s Gallery

o Hegland Glass

Night: The Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theater holds a variety of shows throughout the week from plays to concerts, and even an open mic. Most of the shows start at around 7 p.m. so dinner is either going to be early or late.

Chester River Wine & Cheese Co.

All of these stops are within walking distance, so it only makes sense for you to mosey on over and check out the Chester River Wine & Cheese Co. Located a block south of Cassinelli’s in the vibrant arts district, the boutique is a specialty market that serves domestic wines, cut-to-order cheese, charcuterie and pate, as well as gourmet foods like handmade jam, mustard, salts, olive oils, and vinegars.

Sunday

If you skip breakfast at the farm, you may want to grab a light lunch at Café Sado before you hit your last winery. The chic setting serves a broad menu of sushi, Thai, and Ameri- can fare—not to mention a reasonable selection of local wines (and of course sake—it is sushi after all).

Clovelly Vineyard

The last winery on your tour, Clovelly is known for it’s bountiful vineyards and lolling hills neatly hugged by a bend in the Chester River. As they themselves proclaim “Our wines are borne from the rich earth and the warm river breezes.” Established in the 1950’s, this third-generation winery knows what they’re doing.

Clovelly offers vineyard tours and tastings starting at $10 and they require an appoint- ment. Guests get to keep a souvenir glass as they sample 6 of the vineyard’s refreshing varietals. Try their citrusy 2015 Traminette or their 2013 Devils Reach with chocolate and cherry flavor notes.

Crossing over the bridge on your way home, Sandy Point State Park is the perfect stop to end your trip. The 786-acre state park has a variety of trails and stops to get the last of the vacation selfies out of your system.

As you watch the sparkling sun set like a jewel across the expansive Chesapeake Bay—the last tastes of Clovelly still on your breath—you think to yourself “this is exactly what I needed.”

As you watch the sparkling sun, set like a jewel across the expansive Chesapeake Bay—the last tastes of Clovelly still on your breath—you think to yourself “this is exactly what I needed.”

Chesapeake, Maryland awaits you.

Wineries

Crow Farm: 12441 Vansant Corner Rd, Kennedyville, MD 21645 | (302) 304-0551

Cassinelli Winery & Vineyards: 323 High St, Chestertown, MD 21620 | (410) 556-6825 Chester River

Wine & Cheese Co.: 117 S Cross St, Chestertown, MD 21620 | (443) 282-0220 The Clovelly

Vineyard: 301 Clovelly Lane, Chestertown, MD 21620 | (410) 708-1775

Triple Creek Winery: 11138 Three Bridge Branch Road, Cordova, MD 21625 | (410) 924-4190

Great Frogs Winery: 3218 Harness Creek Rd, Annapolis, MD 21403 | (410) 626-6193

Boordy Vineyards: 12820 Long Green Pike, Hydes, MD 21082 | (410) 592-5015
BONUS: This winery is located just north of Baltimore, perfect for locals or anyone travelling south from Pennsylvania or New York!

Places to Eat

Luisa’s Cucina Italiana: 849 Washington Ave, Chestertown, MD 21620 | (410) 778-5360

Blue Heron Café: 236 Cannon St # 1, Chestertown, MD 21620 | (410) 778-0188

Uncle Charlie’s Bistro: 834 High St, Chestertown, MD 21620 |(410) 778-3663

Nonna Maria’s: 5306 Church Hill Rd, Church Hill, MD 21623 | (410) 556-6171

The Kitchen at The Imperial: 208 High St, Chestertown, MD 21620 | (410) 778-5000

Café Sado: 870 High St, Chestertown, MD 21620 | (410) 778-6688

Fish Whistle: 98 Cannon St, Chestertown, MD 21620 | (410) 778-3566

Place to Stay

Crow Farm: 12441 Vansant Corner Rd, Kennedyville, MD 21645 | (302) 304-0551

Great Oak Manor: 10568 Cliff Rd, Chestertown, MD 21620 | (410) 778-5943

Brampton B&B Inn: 25227 Chestertown Rd, Chestertown, MD 21620 | (410) 778-1860

Inn at Mitchell House: 8796 Maryland Pkwy, Chestertown, MD 21620 | (410) 778-6500

Imperial Hotel: 208 High St, Chestertown, MD 21620 | (410) 778-5000

Mears Great Oak Landing: 22170 Great Oak Landing Rd, Chestertown, MD 21620 | (410) 778-2101

White Swan Tavern: 231 High St, Chestertown, MD 21620 | (410) 778-2300

Activities

Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theatre: 210 High St, Chestertown, MD 21620 | (410) 810-2060

Flow Salon Spa: 305 High St, Chestertown, MD 21620 | (410) 810-1881

Ennisbrook Farm Equestrian Centre: 2201 Bennett Point Rd Queenstown, MD 21658 | (410) 739-6266

March Madness is Here! Fill Out Your Brackets for a Chance to Win Some Cool Wine Gear

March Madness

March Madness is my favorite time of the year since you get four days of non-stop college basketball!   And what goes perfect with college basketball?  Wine of course!   So we wanted to have a little bit of fun with all the Wine Trail Adventures fans and see who can pick the best brackets.  Now is your chance to enter the Wine Trail Adventures Bracket Tournament for your chance to win some really cool wine related products.   The grand prize winner will receive a complete kit of wine related gifts and products, and 10 lucky runner up winners will receive wine sippy cup sets.   We will also randomly give away a set of wine sippy cups to other entrants each week, so the more people we have participating, the more we will give away!

Hurry up and fill out your brackets before the games start, and keep checking back to see how you are doing in the points race… oh, and while you are at it, don’t forget to register for the website and mobile app which we will be launching any time now (they are hard at work finalizing all the details).   Make sure you share and like this contest with your friends or anyone that like college basketball and wine.

Good luck to everyone that enters!

Wine Trail Adventures Hits the Columbia River Gorge

Wine Tasting in the Columbia River Gorge

Prior to our trip to Oregon, neither of us had been to the Columbia River Gorge, so we decided to spend a full day exploring Hood River and Mount Hood.   Whenever we travel, I always try to research the area to see what the cool things are to do and what makes it unique… I had no idea that Hood River, Oregon was a world class wind surfing area!  We also didn’t know that Hood River has a nice cluster of wineries that surround the town with several tasting rooms right in town.

We started the day out by driving up to Mt Hood, which is an awesome drive up the mountain side from Hood River.  Along the way you pass about a dozen wineries, and even more fruit farms.   We just happen to pick a day that it was snowing on the mountain, so about ¾ of the way up, we hit some pretty heavy snow (we have mountains in Pennsylvania, but seeing a 25 degree drop in temperature from the bottom to the top was pretty crazy).  Even if you are not into skiing, it is absolutely worth the trip up the mountain to see Timberline Lodge.  It’s a really cool, and historic lodge that is actually tied to the movie The Shining (if you remember that movie, do a quick Google search about it).   After exploring the lodge, we had to get back on the road to do what we came to do… some wine tasting!

Mt Hood's Timberline Lodge

timberline lodge at the top of mt. hood

Coming back down the mountain, we stopped at a couple of places before grabbing lunch – Wy’East Vineyards, Pheasant Valley, and Mt Hood Winery.   They all had some outstanding wines, but the one that stood out the most for me was at Mt Hood Winery.  It was a pear wine, which we had never had before.   We were expecting it to be sweet, but it was a really nice wine that wasn’t sweet or dry and was very refreshing (something you could really envision drinking with a group of friends on a summer day).

After a couple of stops, we headed into town for lunch and to try to stop at one or two more wineries before heading to our next hotel in Willamette Valley.   After grabbing something to eat, we headed to Naked Winery right downtown, which may have been the highlight of our trip.  Part of what we enjoy about wine tasting is meeting the owners, hearing their stories, and taking in the unique atmosphere that each winery has to offer…  well, Naked Winery excelled at all of them.   First of all, the place was PACKED!  They had a piano player, three tasting rooms full of people, and everyone was having a great time.  They did an outstanding job in terms of marketing, creating a brand, and making it fun… from the décor of the tasting room, down to the names of the wines.  After a couple of minutes, Dave who is one of the owners, came over with two reserve wines that he was pouring besides the regular tastings that they were offering (huge plus in our book).   He took the time to talk to us about each wine, how he got started, and where his passion for wine came from.  Before we knew it, we had been there WAY longer than we had planned, but yet didn’t want to leave.    Some of our best stories/memories from going wine tasting are from meeting people like Dave, who was down to earth, loved to share his story, and really enjoyed making wine tasting fun.  Oh, yeah… and the wines were GREAT!  We liked them so much we had several bottles shipped back to us so that we didn’t have to carry them.

Naked Winery- Where They Aim to Tease!

Naked Winery in Hood River, OR

If you are going to Hood River, the Columbia River Gorge, or Mt. Hood, we HIGHLY recommend stopping in Naked Winery and see for yourself what Dave and his team are up to.   The one place that we really wanted to make it and didn’t, is Marchesi Winery which is also right in Hood River.  We heard some GREAT things about this winery as well, but simply ran out of time before we had to head towards Willamette Valley.

Here are some of our other recommendations if you are planning  a trip:

Where to Eat

Double Mountain Brewery – The Portland area is known for having a HUGE number of breweries, but we would drive out to Hood River again just to go to Double Mountain.   We love beer almost as much as we love wine, so we definitely had to try their hand-crafted beers.  Awesome! On top of that, the food was really good as well.  They make pizzas and some other creative sandwiches which were really good.   On top of the great food, and great beer, the atmosphere was also great.  It was busy but not over crowded, and everyone was super friendly.

Where to stay

When trying to find somewhere to stay, we always try to find somewhere that is unique or has character.  We ended up staying in North Bonneville at the Bonneville Hot Springs Resort.  The lobby has a massive fireplace where everyone was sitting around enjoying the fire.  As you might guess by the name, the resort has natural hot springs in the pool (which we didn’t try).   The other unique thing about the resort is that you can get  a  room with a private hot tub on each balcony.  This was perfect after a day of driving and wine tasting!

 

To read more about our trip, what wineries we visited, and what our reviews were, head over to http://www.winetrailadventures.com and create an account.  You can friend us and see all of our wine reviews.  You can also follow us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/winetrailadventures