Underneath the same big, country sky that blankets Frederick County's dairy farms and horse ranches, the winery building at Elk Run Vineyards, built in 1756, overlooks rolling hills that were originally a land grant to Lord Baltimore from the King of England. Though this land has seen many uses, today Fred and Carol Wilson and Neill Bassford tend its soil to produce a range of Gold, Double Gold, and Best of Maryland award-winning wines such as cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, and Cold Friday chardonnay. Winemakers craft these libations using a blend of contemporary equipment and Old-World winemaking techniques. They harvest grapes from plots planted in schist and shale soil designed to follow sustainable agricultural practices.
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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Detour Winery is not a big-name brand, but this smallish quality is part of the estate's charm. The other part is its location in the shadow of Catoctin Mountain. Here, close enough to Mother Nature to steal her purse, travelers can stop and savor life in the presence of wildflowers, grapes, pavilions, and softball fields.
The proprietor, Daniel Tamminga, cultivate award-winning wines—their current offerings cover all the bases from fruit and dessert wines to reds, whites, and blushes. But they also cultivate a healthy community with wine festivals, youth athletic-program sponsorships, and a summer concert series. They welcome weddings and corporate events onto their property and routinely host winemaking classes to help out new brewers, much to the horror of unstomped grapes everywhere.
Down the gravel road, past the pine trees and hay fields, and above the lolling meadows lies Galloping Goose Vineyards. For the Hale family, it's a long-held dream come to fruition. Before Ed and Diane Hale planted their first grapes, these fields were devoted solely to farming. But through hard work and intense contract negotiations with the barnyard animals, they transformed the property into a hybrid farm, winery, and vineyard. Today, visitors sip Vidal Blanc, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon made on-site. And while the farmland provides an idyllic retreat from the hustle and bustle of regular life, an open pavilion with seating for up to 40 makes it suitable for spirited parties as well.
Though it's usually cars and ghost-horse-drawn carriages that roam the monument-studded fields of Gettysburg, the intrepid individuals at SegTours devised another means of wandering America's past. The two-wheeled vehicles allow groups a more intimate look at the Civil War battlefield.
Lori Korczyk was so inspired by the charm and history she found in Gettysburg that she began leading tours through its streets. As a local in the tourism-heavy historic town, she knew that not just any tour would do, so she followed her stomach and founded Savor Gettysburg Food Tours. Korczyk's over-three-hour tour takes participants on a jaunt through the city's storied downtown area. Between bits of narration that delve into the area's past and culture, groups make stops for tastings at eight diverse eateries. These include the modern yet comforting One Lincoln, the tavern-style?and infamously haunted?Farnsworth House Inn, and the playful Gettysburg Cupcake Caf?.