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.
As it's been chronicled on their blog, the story of Auburn Road Vineyards is a long, meandering one. Founded by wine connoisseurs who eventually evolved into wine creators themselves, the secluded countryside parcel is home to rows of tangling vines, where grapes grow heavy and lush before transforming into complex vintages. At The Enoteca?the on-site wine bar?visitors converge over bottles of wine and shareable plates, such as wood-fired pizzas made every Saturday evening.
In 1989, Jim Kirkpatrick received a winemaking kit from his wife, Carole. At the time, neither Jim nor Carole knew it, but that kit churned out more than just wine—it also produced a dream. When Jim's homemade concoctions were a hit, the couple decided to try their hand at growing their own grapes, and soon moved to a home in Wrightsville surrounded by 3 acres of land.
Just 100 yards from Kreutz Creek, the Kirkpatrick's new location presented the ideal location to expand on Jim's newfound dream. Today, Kreutz Creek Vineyards generates an assortment of red, white, and seasonal varietals. Jim and Carole also use their tranquil grounds to host community events throughout the year, including bonfires and movie nights.
Amid a 22-acre estate, Heritage Vineyards's grape grapplers craft award-winning wines and pair them with sumptuous finger foods. Visiting pairs can choose a lunch dish and a glass apiece from the grandiose wine list. Sip the 2007 cabernet sauvignon, which comes tinged with a deep crimson hue and flavors of cherry and currant, or the Jersey blush, a semisweet concoction that can be smeared on the cheeks to express embarrassment. Meanwhile, the newly released 2009 chambourcin has been aged for 14 months in French-oak barrels and brandishes a complex bouquet of tastes. Or find matches for your wines without filling out 30-page questionnaires by scanning the lunch menu, which pairs the wines with compatible cheese-laden fare such as the warm pepperoni-and-cheese bread or the baked brie, formed with a fig spread and served with sesame crackers.
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.