Last week, I had the opportunity to travel to Elk Run Vineyard in Mt. Airy, Maryland. The drive out was beautiful. Having lived in the Washington suburbs for many years, it always strikes me how short the drive is from urban and suburban neighborhoods to farm land. This was no exception. Located about 45 minutes from Washington, DC Elk Run is a 30 year old winery that makes a number of different wines, sourced mostly from Maryland grapes.
The tasting room is located directly next to one of Elk Run’s two estate vineyards (Liberty Tavern Vineyard, the other Cold Friday Vineyard is across the street). They grow most of their own grapes, purchasing only some Viogner and Malbec from California. The staff is wonderful. The day I visited (and I suspect most days), family members of the owners were working. They are incredibly knowledgeable not only about their wines, but about the area, and the challenges of growing grapes and producing wine in the Maryland climate.
The tasting program consisted of two options. For $5 you can taste 6 wines chosen by Elk Run and for $8, you can can taste 6 wines of your choice. I chose to do the $5 tasting and sampled the following wines (note that each wine does not have its own page. I have provided links by wine type, scroll down to find their description):
2009 Liberty Tavern Vineyard Chardonnay ($24) – A light and well balanced chardonnay that does not have the over oaked flavors so common in California, barrel-aged chardonnays. (Rating ****)
2008 Cold Friday Vineyard Merlot ($22) – This a jammy wine that unlike many merlots is light on tannins. Drinkable similar to many California Cabernet Sauvignons. (Rating ***1/2)
2008 Gold Friday Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($26) – This is a young Cab with big tannins and concentrated berry flavors. Traditionally, East coast vineyards struggle with Cab grapes. It will be interesting to see how this wine ages. (Rating ***1/2)
2008 Riesling ($16) – My favorite wine of the tasting (and the only one that I bought). A good example of an East Coast Riesling with light sweetness surrounding light fruit flavors and a floral bouquet on the nose. (Rating ****1/2)
Annapolis Sunset ($9) – Sweet Rose wine made from Vigonier and Cabernet Sauvignon. Have hints of grapefruit on the palate.
Sweet Katherine ($18) – A dessert wine made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Full bodies with typical qualities of dessert or late harvest wines. Very sweet with big berry and chocolate flavors.