Inaugural Maryland Wine Month
Visit St. Mary’s County wineries
By Bob Tagert
This month marks the first ever Maryland Wine Month. To uncork the month, they will have a calendar on their website consisting of events and activities happening at wineries across the state. They will also launch the Wine Month Challenge! Participants can pick up a challenge card from local wineries. Each time a participant visits a winery they will receive a sticker to pace next to that winery. At the end of the month, members can send in their marked challenge card to the Maryland Wineries Association for prizes. The Maryland Wineries Association will be hosting a Winemakers Seminar Series in different regions throughout the month. Pick your weekend, region and a topic that interests you.
With the incredible spring weather we have had, March appears to be the perfect time to sit back, sip and savor not only the flavor of the county, but also some of the wines being produced by Port of Leonardtown Winery and Slack Winery in nearby St. Mary’s County.
Port of Leonardtown Winery is located on the beautiful grounds of Port Leonardtown Park in Leonardtown Maryland. The winery is right off of Route 5 and sits a few dozen yards from the beautiful McIntosh Run. There are kayaks and canoes on site for rental and the run empties into Breton Bay two miles away.
Port of Leonardtown Winery is the end result of The Southern Maryland Wine Growers Cooperative and was formed in 2007 as the region began to transition away from tobacco production to other agricultural pursuits. The potential for the emerging wine industry to positively affect agriculture and tourism in southern Maryland was recognized and supported by the state of Maryland, the local government and farmers. Partnering with St. Mary’s County and Leonardtown, interested farmers and others with a passion for wine set in motion a plan to ensure the success of wine grape growing in Southern Maryland. The cooperative formed as the first agricultural cooperative in the state of Maryland leading the way for viticulture and future wineries.
The cooperative entered into a lease agreement with the Town of Leonardtown in 2009 to operate the Port of Leonardtown Winery making it the first commercial winery in St. Mary’s County. In 2010 the winery opened and began tours, tasting and sales. Today the cooperative has 18 members including 12 vineyards and produces in excess of 45 tons of fruit each year. They produce a number of wines with their most notable being Albarino, Chambourcin, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot. Vidal Blanc is also a popular wine and a very hearty grape, which thrives in the soil found in the county.
Rich Fuller and winemaker Lauren Zimmerman who are usually onsite at the winery head the cooperative up. Special events at the winery during the month will include a special wine pairing March 11-12& 18-19: Irish Cheese paired with Port of Leonardtown wines. March Wine Deals (March only). Get a combo pack of 5th Anniversary Red & 5th Anniversary White for only $19.99. There will also be musical entertainment on the evenings of March 3, 4, 11, 18 and 25th.
Located a short drive south of Leonardtown is Slack Winery. The winery is located on Jubilee Farm, a 139-acre estate that sits on Blake Creek and overlooks the Potomac River. The vines and tasting room is located at Jubilee Farms but they also have second location for tasting in Ridge, Maryland at the Historic Woodlawn Farm Waterside Market, a 180-acre property that also serves as a Bed and Breakfast.
The winery gets its name from “Slackwater”: that quality of water that is relaxed and easy, just like their wines. This winery is the epitome of laid back. Winemaker and owner Tucker Grube-O’Brien is brief and to the point…there are not many wasted words. His theory on wine production is about the same. Their Italian method of producing table wines is time tested, producing young, fresh and vibrant wines. They produce Barbera, Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and their favorite, Chardonnel.
Slack Winery only produces about 1500 cases of wine each year and usually sells out locally. During March you will be able to taste and buy wines at the Jubilee location with a schedule that will vary so please call. Tasting and purchases can be made at Woodlawn on weekends at the Multi Vendor Market.
Check with these two wineries before going in March for specific times and any new events.