Nice article on Frederick County’s newest winery, Catoctin Breeze Vineyard, in the Frederick News Post. I can’t think of any other business where so many people go into the business out of sheer love for the product. Of course talking to Maryland winery owners you would be delusional if you were getting into it for the money. I look forward to sampling their wines.
West Frederick Farmer’s Market re-opens Saturday May 5th for the season!
In anticipation of the impending changes (on July 1st I believe?) to the alcohol laws two new “farm breweries” in Frederick County are slated to open soon: Frey’s Brewing Company and Milkhouse Brewery. Exciting times. Ever so often the legislature actually does something good. I look forward to their opening and as soon as possible I shall visit them and report back here. Maybe I can get a sneak preview on one: Milkhouse Brewery is on Stillpoint Farm which is where FirkinFest, the grand finale to Frederick Beer Week , is being held.
As I was coming down the stairs this morning in a barely conscious fog I saw someone standing in the pre-dawn light on the front porch. Get the 12 gauge? No luckily I was sensate enough to realize it was just our regularly weekly delivery from South Mountain Creamery. In the warmer months they deliver the milk early to protect it from the heat. Which prompted me to write this entry. For a while I’ve been meaning to write about them, but just never gotten around to it. I love these guys (and gals). We have been getting their products for eight or nine years and have always been pleased. Their dairy is right up the road in Middletown. Though its products are not organic, the dairy uses “traditional farming methods” and doesn’t use growth hormones or use pesticides on its fields. Additionally they have an open invitation on their website for anyone to stop by and see the milking -any time. How’s that for engendering confidence in their business! Their products are fresh and the convenience of having milk delivered to your door really can’t be beat. We seem to go through about 2 and a half bottles per week so they have no problem alternating a three bottles delivery one week with a two bottle delivery the next. Price wise, while they can’t compete with the $1.89/gallon stuff at the super WalMart, but they are very competitive with the price of non-BGH milk found in stores. Local agriculture, good people, good product. I can’t recommend them enough.
After all this time I finally got a chance to visit Black Ankle Vineyards. They have been open for about a year if I recall correctly and on my list of places to visit since I heard of their opening. So one recent weekend Mrs. Fred and I along with my brother and sister in law headed off to check it out. First of all the setting is really beautiful; after you drive down a very rural Black Ankle Road and then the gravel driveway you come to the tasting room, set on a gently sloping hillside nestled amid the vineyards. The building itself is also fascinating. For the full story check out their detailed description of the tasting room here. In short the building was built as much as possible sustainably and out of local materials. Grass roof, huge fireplace, timber from the farm itself are all some of the details. Also be sure to check out the tasting room counter if you go! They have a nice breezeway with large garage-style roll up doors and a large patio. All of us had the same reaction: what an amazing place for a party or wedding! I also saw that they have regular sunday wine dinners. In keeping with their philosophy they use local seasonal ingredients. This is certainly on our to do list.
On to the wines. The tasting fee was a very reasonable $5 and the staff was very knowledgeable and answered all of our wine nerd questions. All in all the consensus was that the wines were very good. My brother who lives in Massachusetts confessed later that due to his experiences visiting the local vineyards in his area he had very low expectations. He said he was extremely surprised by the quality of wines we tasted that day and I agree. It’s always awkward when you taste a wine at a winery that you really dislike and the staff is there staring at you like a proud parent. Well no poker faces needed here. Our favorite reds were the 2006 Crumbling Rock and the 2006 Syrah. On the white side there was less consensus on a clear cut favorite with everybody liking something different. I liked the 2007 Bedlam best. Several bottles were purchased to add to the cellar.
Value note: lets face it: at prices ranging from $22-40 these wines aren’t a stupendous value. However they rank up there with the best wines from this region that I have tasted. The wines are quality wines and you won’t be embarrassed serving these or giving them as gifts. As someone who strongly believes in supporting local agriculture these wines will continue to enjoy a place on our table.
According to some buzz that I heard, and as noted on the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s website there is a new farmers market in Brunswick on Sundays from 1:00 p.m to 4:00 p.m. starting in June. Looking at the calendar that would be this Sunday. I think I will try to check it out this weekend. I’ll be sure to report what I find here if I do get a chance to go.
A quick search shows that the local harvest site has some more details.