Strolling the grounds of Boordy Vineyards on an autumn day with a glass of wine in hand can be a perfect date for wine lovers.
Maryland vineyards make the most of this time of year, which coincides with grape harvest and “crush” season. Many invite the wine-loving public to hang out and sip, often while listening to music and noshing on delicious food.
From bands in the hills of Boordy Vineyards to Food Truck Fridays at Old Westminster Winery, Maryland winemakers provide ample opportunity to enjoy the fruits of the local vines. Read on for several vineyards that offer perfect date outings.
Crush Season Saturdays at Boordy Vineyards
Windsor Mill resident Julie Freidell is a huge fan of Boordy, which is one of Maryland's oldest wine operations. She and her husband love the many events and have been Boordy regulars since they started dating.
“We love the atmosphere of live music by local bands and a grassy hill to lounge on while sipping wine,” she says.
Boordy schedules events all year long — outdoors when the weather is nice and inside the tasting room when it turns chilly. The vineyard celebrates crush season through mid-October with wagon ride vineyard tours, samples, food vendors and great live music.
Many Boordy events are also extremely family-friendly, so even if your sitter cancels, you can still enjoy some time at the vineyard.
Crush Saturdays through Oct. 14. Noon-5 p.m. $15 admission for 16 and older for Crush Saturdays; $8-$15 for tours and tastings year-round.
12820 Long Green Pike, Hydes
Friday Night Fun at Black Ankle Vineyards
Ask any local wine connoiseur about which Maryland wineries produce the best bottles and Black Ankle will be at the top of the list. Since founding the Mt. Airy vineyard in 2001, owners Ed Boyce and Sarah O’Herron have been committed to making wine of the highest quality. They are some of the most highly decorated winemakers in the state, having racked up numerous regional awards including Best in Class dessert wine and two gold medals at the 2017 Maryland Governor’s Cup.
But that doesn’t mean they don’t also like to have a good time in their tasting room and on their hilly property. Every Friday night through the end of the year, Black Ankle hosts an outdoor concert. People bring blankets, chairs and picnics and sip wine bought on-site while listening to laid-back tunes.
Tasting room open Thursday-Sunday and most Monday holidays; hours vary. Concerts Friday nights starting around 6 p.m. No fee for concerts; wine available for purchase.
14463 Black Ankle Road, Mt. Airy
Wine Club Events at The Vineyards at Dodon
The family that owns The Vineyards at Dodon has been farming the Davidsonville land for nine generations, though it was only in 2010 that they planted their first grapevines. In the years since, they’ve adopted an environmentally conscious approach to winemaking that results in wine that is both high quality and responsible, according to Regina McCarthy, director of client services.
Dodon is open for tours and tastings by appointment, but the best way to get to know the vineyard — and the wines — is to join the wine club, which hosts events throughout the year. The vineyard holds summertime picnics, hikes, comparative wine tastings and formal wine dinners featuring talented chefs, local farmers and guest speakers.
“Owners Polly Pittman and Tom Croghan aim to create events that are deeply rooted in the beauty, heritage and identity of the property and region,” McCarthy says.
Some of the region’s most celebrated chefs are Dodon fans. This November, Steve Monnier, the chef/owner of the highly acclaimed French BYOB Aromes in Hampden, will prepare a multi-course meal for Dodon wine club members.
Upcoming hike Oct. 14, 2 p.m., and conversation dinner Nov. 2, 6 p.m. Club events range from free to about $120; club membership is free, but requires wine purchases.
391 Dodon Road, Davidsonville
Tobacco Barn Tastings at Great Frogs Winery
Former Californians Nathanael and Andrea O’Shea have made it their mission to make wine approachable and fun for visitors to their Annapolis winery. They make wines using French varietals planted in Annapolis nearly 20 years ago and from newer grapes planted on the Eastern shore in 2011.
The Great Frogs team runs tastings outdoors and out of a preserved tobacco barn. Guests can opt for the straightforward “Reserve Experience” tasting or go full throttle with the “Epicure Pairing Experience,” which includes cheeses and charcuterie carefully paired with each wine, and instruction and discussion from a “personal wine ambassador.”
Visits Fridays and Saturdays, 1 p.m.-5 p.m., by reservation only. Reserve Experience, $35; Epicure Pairing Experience, $60.
3218 Harness Creek Road, Annapolis
Food Truck Fridays at Old Westminster Winery
Every Friday evening, Old Westminster Winery has a food truck party.
“We love to host events at the farm,” says Ashli Johnson, estate director at the family-owned winery. “Old Westminster is a special place for people to come and connect with delicious Maryland wine [and] thoughtful local farmers and enjoy the fun nature of the farm.”
Food Truck Fridays feature some of the area’s most popular food makers, like Well Crafted Pizza, Mexican standout Clavel and Asian fusion Ekiben, all of which make dishes that pair perfectly with Old Westminster’s wines.
Bubbly lovers, in particular, should consider a day trip to Old Westminster. Though the winery is relatively young — the first wines were bottled in 2013 — its wine has received plenty of positive attention from wine experts, especially the sparkling varieties.
Every Friday in October; tasting room is open 5-10 p.m.; music 6-9 p.m.
1550 Old Westminster Road, Westminster
By Kit Waskom Pollard