Gather your coven around the cauldron with today's side deal to romantic fondue feasting at Boordy Vineyards. For $9, you'll get an adult ticket to Fond of Your Fondue and a wine glass for tasting, an $18 value. Relax among the 19th century farm buildings on the Boordy estate, nestled in the hills of the Long Green Valley, just a short drive north of the beltway. This event runs from 1–5 p.m. on February 7, making this a game-changing way to mentally prepare for the Super Bowl.
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.
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.
Established in 1986, Basignani Winery cultivates and bottles hand-crafted red and white wines using a traditional cellar method and techniques perfected over several years. Owners Bert and Lynne Basignani have named some of their favorite wines after their four children, such as the dry Elena, a white seyval blend aged in oak, or the Lorenzino Reserve, a rich blend of cabernet sauvignon and franc melded with fruity merlot. Wednesday–Sunday, the winery holds half-hour tastings of its creations and encourages—weather and Dionysus’s mood permitting— self guided tours of the vineyard. A 20-minute drive north of Baltimore, the winery boasts rows of plump green and burgundy grapes hanging off vines as the winery’s resident border collies run and play in the fields. In spring, vibrant fuchsia petals burst from branches and delicate blush blooms droop low to the ground to provide cover for a romantic meal or microfiche exchange among visitors.
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.
Herds of buffalo and cows 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. Five total medals have distinguished Cassinelli wines, which the company’s sommeliers share at their tasting room, events, and a quartet of outlets throughout the state.