Since 1948, the Layton family has farmed a parcel of idyllic land that has managed to steadily grow in size over the years. As the farm changed hands through three generations, so did the agriculture?both literally, and figuratively. In 2007, Joe Layton and his clan re-evaluated the operation and decided to take a risk: they would plant wine grapes. Three years later, the winery opened its doors, and the fermented fruits of their labor were proof that the risk was worth it. Situated on 1,800 acres amid the lush rows of grapes, the winery is also home to a tasting room, and visitors are invited to explore the facility during daily tours or enjoy walking trails along the property.
Two buffalos graze between hundreds of fruit-bearing trees. But it?s the grapes sprouting throughout Cassinelli Winery & Vineyards' 110 wooded and open acres that matter most. Each hand-selected and sustainably farmed grape emerges from the earth to take its first step toward becoming one of 12 wines produced at the vineyard. Those include a 2009 Barbera reserve and a 2009 Merlot, bronze- and gold-medal winners, respectively, at the Maryland Governor?s Cup, a cup always filled with wine or melted cheese. Seven total medals have distinguished Cassinelli wines, which the company?s owners share at their tasting room, events, and a quartet of outlets throughout the state.
For Denise and John Wilkerson, owning a vineyard had always been a shared dream, but not one they thought would ever be realized. Wandering through the French regions of Dijon and Bordeaux on their honeymoon, the two sampled myriad wines and mustards, refining their palates and developing an appreciation for wine-dipped mustard sandwiches. Back in the states, the two tried their hand at cattle farming before making a dramatic decision: they'd sell the cattle, work on beautifying their 20 acres of land, and find a sunny patch of earth to plant those first few rows of wine grapes.
Today, the two curate tastings of their award-winning wines in a renovated barn, where barrels have been re-purposed into tables, and grapes have been re-purposed as alcohol. Through open doors, the rustic tasting room looks out over the Wilkersons' 20 acres, which are populated by rows of grapes and the lush undergrowth of native plants.
St. Michaels Winery began its life in the Historic Old Mill complex, where it kicked off 2005 by introducing five new wines to the world. Shortly after, the awards began to roll in: golds, silvers, and bronzes from the Maryland Governors Cup and the Maryland Winemasters Choice Awards. Today, these industrious vintners offer sips and nibbles on a walk-in basis in their expansive, bright white and blue winery and tasting bar, amply stocked with 20 different varietals.
The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to sharing the stories of the Chesapeake Bay and the people who have shaped their lives around it. With 18 waterfront acres in the historic town of St. Michaels, the Museum offers exhibits, boat rides, festivals and more.
Crush Kitchen & Winehouse
In addition to its elegant, warmly decorated lounge and hand-selected stock of wine, Crush Kitchen doubles as an intimate gathering place?a place that lets groups connect over small plates and test pairing tips doled out by knowledgeable servers. The wine list features premium, uncommon wines crafted by small producers from around the world, and wine-tasting events give patrons a chance to learn about pinot noir or American varietals from wine experts. Crush also makes all of its breads, dressings, desserts, and soups in-house everyday, and daily specials encourage patrons to try out new dishes.
Slate Wine Bar + Bistro
Slate Wine Bar + Bistro, carries on the family tradition of pouring fine wines in welcoming surroundings. A carefully curated selection of bottles?with an emphasis placed on wines?pairs with brunch, lunch, and dinner menus of New American cuisine. The wait staff offers insight so guests can perfectly match their meals of pan-seared duck breast with a red wine cherry sauce, grass-fed burgers, or seasonal risotto, and wine experts provide in-depth information in curated tasting events.