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 nourishes 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 hearty red wine. The family even bottles honey wine (Mead) in a nod to their European past.
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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.
Perched on a hill overlooking northern Baltimore County's scenic valleys, Royal Rabbit Vineyards typically provides guests pleasing views throughout the year. It isn't until late spring and summer, however, that the landscape begins to change: heavy green and purple orbs crop up along 4 acres of climbing grapevines. By fall, the heavy, ripened grapes are ready for harvest—later on they’ll be turned into the winery’s award-winning wines or used as low-impact marbles. The small winery lies along the Piedmont Wine Trail and Mason-Dixie Wine Trail, which connects more than 20 small, family-owned wineries in Pennsylvania and Maryland.
In keeping with the Royal Rabbit Vineyards motto—"Treat yourself royally"—many of the wines have royal titles, including a cabernet franc blend dubbed “the duke.” Wine labels display a kingly rabbit holding a golden chalice.
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.
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.
Even before Richard Naylor and his wife, Audrey, founded their winery in 1978, the Naylor family had been fascinated by the winemaking process. What began as a backyard vine-growing experiment first transitioned into an barrel-producing operation in a potato cellar. It then blossomed into today's idyllic Pennsylvania winery, full of vineyards, rows of wooden barrels, and a staff of friendly wine experts. Richard and his family lead groups through tours of the picturesque estate, imparting their wisdom about the fine varietals grown there, such as cabernet franc or chambourcin. Guests can sip fine vino during regular festivals and front-porch tastings, or they can experience live bands, competitive wine-tasting events, and even weddings in the welcoming, rustic setting of the Pavilion.