Situated along the pastoral countryside, the family-owned-and-operated Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard produces flavorful Bordeaux-style wines in a charming, rustic setting. With today's Groupon, you and a fermentation fanatic get a full tasting of Sugarloaf's award-winning wines, from the brick-red cabernet Franc to the French-oak-aged chardonnay. Once you've introduced your taste buds to each potential grape suitor, you and your tasting-mate each get a glass of preferred wine and a scrumptious assortment of cheeses, complete with olive tapenade to pair. You'll also get two souvenir wine glasses, engraved with the vineyard's name, to take home and display next to other fine glassware, such as your Wrestlemania '87 juice glasses.
Dealing directly with venerated wineries, the swirling and sniffing staff at Finewine.com purveys a fine roster of pleasing potables. The trio of vinos hails from California’s Vaquero Cellars, which selects the best grapes from nearby vineyards with a meticulous eye. After barrel-aging for 22 months, the merlot emerges with a full body and a crisp taste, and bright cherry and cranberry lend complexity to the pinot noir’s deep hue and dense poetry. A deep-colored syrah, bursting with the aroma of ripe fruit and knowing glances, rounds out the package.
A log cabin tucked between the Potomac and a dense blue grove of pines might seem more likely to dispense moonshine than merlot. But seen up close, the rustic timbers hold as much outright elegance as backwoods charm. In the summer, oenophiles nibble cheese and crackers to pair with sips of fruity whites, dry, robust reds, and sweet wines on the evergreen-scented veranda. In the winter, a roaring fire keeps things toasty while guests trade bites of fondue. The vintners ascribe to a philosophy of experimentation, tweaking their blends, methods, and California Raisin impressions based on customer feedback. The winery completes the picture of Arcadian bliss with a gift shop and gallery stocked by local artists.
Like a United Nations of varietals, some of the world’s tastiest wines from countries such as Argentina, Chile, Italy, and France are well-represented within Jackie’s Wine Bar. Connoisseurs savor the unique notes of each pour while investigating the black-framed pictures on Jackie’s coffee-colored walls and the shelves of wine bottles that vie for attention behind the bar by wearing chic designer labels. On Thursday evenings, free salsa lessons invite patrons to set down their glasses and grab their dance partner’s hand; Saturday nights feature live bands that serve dulcet melodies as aromatic bouquets serenade olfactory receptors. Fresh air courses through Jackie’s outdoor patio, where visitors can alternate between sips of wine or beer and bites of sandwiches, desserts, and appetizers.
On February 1, 2011, Linganore Winecellars' staff members celebrated with a barrel tasting. They had just finalized the winery's transition to operating on strictly sustainable wind power.
Founded in 1971 by the Aellen family, Linganore has since expanded in every way, from its grape selection to new bottling rooms to a renovation of the offices in the 19th-century barn on the grounds. Today, the sustainable winery stocks more wines than ever before, with its award-winning selection including traditional grape varietals, fruit wines, and specialty bottles. The idyllic winery routinely hosts events as well, with concerts, tastings, and tours taking place 361 days out of the year, granting the grapes four days to just hang out.
Though many vintners refer to their winemaking techniques as "old country," those of the Loews are older than most. The family's first forays into the drinkable craft began in the 19th century, in an area of the Austro-Hungarian Empire known as Galicia, now part of Ukraine. There, they brewed honey wines and distributed them throughout Europe. The Loews continued in the business well into the 20th century, but their enterprise was disrupted by the outbreak of World War II. The Loew name wouldn't appear on another bottle until nearly a half-century later, in a vineyard an ocean away.
The modern iteration of Loew Vineyards was established in 1982, and today stretches across 37 lush acres in Frederick County. Here, the gravelly soil sprouts flavorful grapes ideal for both red and white wines. The Loews tend to the vines throughout the year, harvesting the grapes in the fall and pruning them and fitting leaves with tiny mittens in the winter. Their crops are transformed into more than a dozen varieties of wine, ranging from the citrus-y, semi-sweet Serendipity to a balanced Cabernet Franc. The family even bottles a honey wine in a nod to their European past.
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