Cider, wine, and mead lure you to Maryland’s tasting trails

Jane & Marvin Bond

The wineries of the Antietam Highlands Trail offer great views from outdoor tasting areas.

Maryland wineries are scattered from the mountains of the west to the flatlands of the Eastern Shore, a geographical diversity much like the neighboring states of Pennsylvania and Virginia. Three wine trails in the central part of the state are especially convenient to Washington or Baltimore.

Antietam Highlands Trail

The wineries of the Antietam Highlands Trail offer great views from outdoor tasting areas.
The wineries of the Antietam Highlands Trail offer great views from outdoor tasting areas.

Mostly located in Washington County, the five trail members offer a diverse array of libations.

Knob Hall, in Clear Spring, was settled by Jacob Siebert after the French and Indian War, two centuries before the first vineyard was planted. Today, Wine Down Fridays include live entertainment to go along with the wine.

Music is also a tradition at Smithburg’s Red Heifer Winery, where wine and music mix on Saturdays in October. Orchid Cellar in Middletown specializes in red and white varietals, but also produces mead.

Distillery Lane Ciderworks sits on a farm where Union soldiers camped before the Battle of Antietam. While the apple trees are much newer, the farm produces both heirloom varieties and ciders. It was Maryland’s first licensed cidery.

Big Cork Vineyards also occupies land that hosted Civil War troops. After initially introducing white wines, Big Cork released its first reds in 2014. A six-hour tour of the trail is available from Roadrunner Services.

Frederick Wine Trail

There are also five members on the Frederick Wine Trail, including one of Maryland’s oldest and most active, Berrywine Plantations and Linganore Winecellars in Mount Airy. You can do a tour and tasting in the restored peg barn seven days a week or attend one of the five outdoor music festivals or numerous wine pairing events. The Autumn Reggae Wine, Music, and Art Festival is Oct. 10–11 and Christmas in the Barn is Dec. 6. In 2014 the vineyard added the Red Shedman Farm Brewery and Hop Yard.

Also in the Mount Airy area, Loew Vineyards continues a family winemaking tradition that began in 19th-century Europe. Tours and tastings are available Fridays through Sundays, as are cheese plates for picnicking. Elk Run Vineyards near Mount Airy is known for intimate tours, tastings, and performances by local artists.

In the northern part of Frederick County, among the Catoctin foothills, the Catoctin Breeze Vineyard in Thurmont takes advantage of the mountain breezes to provide relief from summer heat and humidity. The winery offers both public tastings of its wine and mead and private tours. Thurmont is also home to Springfield Manor Winery and Distillery, which offers a beautiful tasting room in the lower level of a bank barn as well as an outdoor terrace. The distillery is in the initial stage of production.

Carroll Wine Trail

The five members of the Carroll Wine Trail stretch from Manchester in the north to Westminster. Cygnus Wine Cellar in Manchester began production in the mid-1990s and is open on Saturdays and Sundays.

Galloping Goose Vineyards in Hampstead is open weekends and celebrates the harvest with a Pawpaw Appreciation Weekend each September, utilizing the fruit George Washington declared his favorite dessert. Detour Winery overlooks the Catoctin Mountains in western Carroll County and focuses on organic fruit and dessert wines and is open Thursdays through Sundays for tastings.

Two wineries in the Westminster area complete the trail. Old Westminster Winery, just south of town, released its first wines in 2013. A tasting room should be completed this fall.

Serpent Ridge Vineyard opened in 2009 and offers tastings Wednesdays through Sundays. The winery produces red, white, rose, and dessert wines.


Shanna Weller

The wineries of the Antietam Highlands Trail offer great views from outdoor tasting areas.


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