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Tag Archives: MD Wine

The Thanksgiving Wine Decisions

From the local perspective.

I always try to serve local wines with our Thanksgiving meal. Since I go to the trouble of getting a local fresh turkey, and I have local organic CSA vegetables around here, I like to make the whole meal local. Sort of like those original Pilgrim meals. Food from near where you live.

I will be picking up my turkey at Maple Lawn this year. Why? I don’t know. Maybe I feel like being part of that tradition, or really, just maybe I want to get a few other items to put into the freezer for later this winter.

As for the wine selection, I am slightly changing my candidates this year.

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I am leaning towards serving the Ankida Ridge Pinot Noir. We have yet to make it down south of Charlottesville to visit this winery, but we have bought their wines at Early Mountain, north of Charlottesville. I will probably take the Linden to my brother’s house, as it is light and refreshing.

I considered that dry Petit Manseng.

For red wine drinkers, the Big Cork reds aren’t that heavy yet, as they still have younger vines. Their Cabernet Franc is light enough to match with turkey.

Big Cork is a Maryland winery. Another good local Maryland winery to pick from, is Old Westminster.

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They are one of the closest wineries to our home. They make some lovely wines, like their white blends. You can buy them at the Wine Bin in Ellicott City.

No matter what you choose, pick one or two local wines to serve. Make it a real Maryland Thanksgiving.

The Antietam Highlands Wine Trail

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Something to do on these lovely autumn days.

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Fall foliage season is fast approaching. I picked up this brochure at Big Cork a few weeks ago. The offerings interested me.

Like the Meadery and Ciderworks.

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Filed away to try out on a weekend soon. But today, the first sunny day in a long time, we ventured out to taste at Knob Hall.

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Just west of Hagerstown. They were harvesting red grapes and sorting, when we got there.

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And, you know what? They make some lovely wines. Not very expensive. But, really well done. The tasting room is in a 200+ year old bank barn. They make one awesome cheese and charcuterie plate. We enjoyed their Chambourcin Reserve for a late lunch.

For those who love good wine, this is a very nice place to check out.

We will be heading back out there to try out the other offerings just west of Frederick. Who can resist the pull of the Appalachian mountains in the fall?

The Best Of

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Those lists. The best this. The best that. I take them all with a grain of salt. So when I saw a Facebook feed from Black Ankle about the “101 Best Wineries in the USA” I thought, OK, another popularity contest.

Seems this list is a bit more than that. They use chefs, wine writers, sommeliers, wine experts and more to pick wineries of good value, consistency and great taste.

We have enjoyed wines from at least half the wineries on this list. They really did a good job of picking places that make wines of distinction, and their write ups are spot on. Yes, Black Ankle makes one awesome Syrah.

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It made us open one for our final night of the Buy Local Challenge. Served with a lamb loaf and local veggies.

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Sunday night dinner.

The wine is simply elegant. If you haven’t had the chance to head out to Mt. Airy and visit Black Ankle, you should. Besides the syrah, they make some interesting whites, like Albarino and Gruner Veltliner.

A perfect place for a Friday night picnic while listening to the music. Take a basket with you, or buy from the winery. Buy a bottle to compliment your meal. Enjoy!


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The Buy Local Challenge. Coming next week to our area. Are you taking the challenge? Will you be eating a local food at least once a day for the nine days of the challenge?

This year they have included the Farm to Table restaurants in the challenge. If your local restaurant features local foods on the menu, you can help both the farmers and the independent restaurant owners.

Every day until the challenge is over, I will be giving tips on where and how to eat locally, and to buy locally produced items.

I mean, it can be really easy. How about wine, beer or ice cream? A glass of local wine or beer a day. How easy is that? Or, ice cream from the local farms around here. Like Baugher’s. Or the eight dairies on the MD Ice Cream Trail.

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Hmm, a nine day event. Nine places to eat ice cream. Sounds like a plan to me.


Head off to Victoria’s GastroPub for Manor Hill draft beers. Brewed here in Howard County. Four of them available.

Head up to Black Ankle. Or Elk Run. Or Sugarloaf Mountain. Or Old Westminster. Or Big Cork. All local wineries making wines with grapes grown in Maryland.

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Every day. A different local beer or wine.

Yep, you don’t have to buy vegetables to excel in the Buy Local Challenge.

Oh, I forgot cheese. There are many local cheese makers in the state. More on them tomorrow.

But, if you are into veggies, Wednesday through Sunday, the county has seven farmer’s markets. If you want to do something different, head out to Larriland to pick berries.

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No excuses. Eating locally is easy.

Ready for the Fourth?

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The locavore way. Berries from Larriland. Chardonnay from Big Cork. Using Maryland’s best to celebrate the holiday.

I am getting ready for this weekend. Lots of good stuff from the garden, the CSA, Friends and Farms and other local farms for grilling, chilling and just kicking back. If only the weather would cooperate.

As for things to do, here is what is high on our list.


You could go pick berries at Larriland, as they are open 9-1 on Saturday. Have a hot dog at Alex’s snowball stand. Watch the parade. Listen to the music.

For us, we are seriously considering heading out to Rohrersville to Big Cork to join in their celebration at the winery. The events page has the details. I mean, River House Pizza from Eillicott City is heading out there.

As for the grilling sometime this weekend, if it ever stops raining, I am looking forward to those goodies from my Friends and Farms basket.

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I am thinking bratwurst with German mustard.

As for fireworks, not a fan. I know they are all around the area, but we just stay out here in west county and watch the neighbors’ fireworks. Someone, somewhere out here will set off a few.

Happy Independence Day to Howard County.

A Touch of Whimsy …

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… surrounded by attention to detail, and the hills of the Maryland mountains. Big Cork Winery opened their tasting room yesterday the 31st of January.

On Main Street in Rohrersville, located in Washington County MD. About halfway between Frederick MD and Harper’s Ferry WV.

We headed there yesterday morning to see the new facility. I have poured wine for Big Cork at the Wine in the Woods, and we have been loving their Chardonnay for the past few years.

The winery is gorgeous. Big, bright with tons of outdoor space (for when it isn’t 20 degrees out there). The landscaping will be done in the spring. In the meantime, the indoor spaces are bright, inviting and carry that touch of whimsy in their art work, chandeliers and décor. Like the wall of “roses”.

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This is in the area where you can sit and enjoy a nice food pairing for wines purchased by the glass or bottle.

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We sat there after doing a tasting at the bar, and shared some flatbread and bruschetta while sipping the newest Chardonnay.

The bar was hopping.

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We ran into many friends there. Bruce and Sylvia came up for the celebration. They worked with Dave Collins, the winemaker, when he made wine at Breaux Vineyards in VA.

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We had a chance to chat with Dave, as he seemed to be everywhere, greeting those who are happy to see the new winery up and running.

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Currently, Big Cork makes eleven wines. The whites, all grown on the property. The reds. Not ready yet, so the current releases were made from bought grapes.

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This year’s Cabernet Franc was my favorite red. The Chardonnay, our favorite white. Although I was impressed with the Sauvignon Blanc, which has potential.

We will be stopping here often on day trips. They are also conveniently located south of Middletown, just a hop, skip and jump from South Mountain Creamery. Where we find that awesome ice cream.

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That terrace will be a popular spot when the weather warms up.

Sunday Drives

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It’s the height of leaf peeping season here in Central Maryland. That cool couple of nights really made a difference in the depth of the colors. Sunday drives will be rewarded with stunning views like these.

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This was Larriland, but today I want to recommend heading farther afield. So to speak. Like to Sugarloaf Mountain, to visit the winery, maybe hike a few of the trails and check out the artisans in the Dickerson area.

Wineries have tremendous views in the fall, when the vines turn color to match the scenery.


Some grape leaves on the vines turn red. Others yellow or orange.

If you want other close options that include time spent driving on back roads filled with color. Consider Black Ankle, just out Liberty Road. Or maybe Breaux just south of Harpers Ferry. Breaux now sits on a road with at least a half dozen other wineries. We haven’t tried any of them yet, except for Notaviva. We may have to plan a trip soon. Besides, Harpers Ferry alone is worth the drive.

If you want a new place to find pumpkins and apples, check out Baughers in Westminster.

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Besides the farm, just west of the city off of Rte. 140, the restaurant near McDaniels College has some of the best ice cream, and lots more at the farm stand.

This is also the last weekend for the Fall Festival at Gaver Farm, outside of Mt. Airy.

Any of these local farms have their final weekend events, too. Like Larriland for their straw maze for the little ones, Sharps, Mullinix, for those maze enthusiasts and apple/pumpkin pickers.

Who needs to drive all the way to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, when there are all sorts of events in Howard, Carroll and Frederick Counties.

Before autumn leaves us, it’s a great weekend to enjoy the local colors. All of them.

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Not Your Mama’s Veggies

Cardoons. Edamame. Trombone squash. Those strange things in my garden, and in a friend’s.

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Let’s start with the squash. I have to grow these next year. A friend at the Conservancy grows them. They are away for two weeks. Their instructions to us were harvest the tomatoes for the food bank, and take any squash that get longer than a foot.

I decided today to go see what grew since our Tuesday food bank day. Two new squash just went nuts over the three day period. I will be cooking them tomorrow for a pasta primavera.

As for my garden.

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I harvested a half dozen cardoons. A member of the artichoke family. They are peeled. Prepped. Ready to make tomorrow night as part of my primavera.


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Only one of my edamame plants survived. I took them off the vine. Cooked them in salted water. Added them to tonight’s dinner.

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Grilled Haloumi with the edamame. Grilled the tri tip from Friends and Farms. Also grilled the last of the bok choy and some fennel. Served over spring mix.

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With an awesome local wine.

Hey, maybe the food around here is a bit weird, but it tastes great. And, there are some wonderful local wines out there.

Extreme #buylocalchallenge

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As is eating something local at every meal. Easy to do if most of your food comes from a CSA, a regional food service, and your garden.

I count my garden as supporting local farmers as most of the plants were purchased from local farms. I don’t buy plants from national chains like Lowe’s or Home Depot, but from local farms like Sharp’s or Greenway. Both Howard County farms.

Today was the first day of the challenge. Breakfast included toast with CSA raspberry jam, for me. And for my husband, cereal with CSA blueberries.

Lunch for him. Tuna salad with my onions. For me, cucumbers, tomatoes and carrots, dipped in a yogurt dressing. Yogurt from PA. Cucumbers and tomatoes, my garden. Carrots, CSA.

Peaches from the CSA for a snack.

Dinner tonight.

Local wine!

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Big Cork, from Rohrersville MD. Ready to go to the table with some of my flowers from my front yard.

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CSA chicken thighs being baked with CSA potatoes, my onions and Wayne Nell smoked bacon (Friends and Farms supplier from York PA). They buy from farms in the area surrounding York.

The salad.

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Baywater Greens from Salisbury supplied the leaf lettuce. CSA spinach, beets, gouda, blueberries.

Oh, I forgot, there was corn on the cob, too. From the CSA.

Very little today that didn’t come locally. Off to a good start. On to Day Two tomorrow.

Fish On …

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… the grill.

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There is something about halibut. One of my favorite fish to grill. And we can’t go to Annapolis to visit family without stopping at Annapolis Seafood for something. It was a stop for shrimp but the halibut was calling my name.

The shrimp, also bought, was used today in a shrimp curry with Thai Spices Matsaman curry, fragrant with cumin and cardamom.

The halibut, grilled last night with some Friends and Farms vegetables.

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Asparagus and red potatoes.

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All seasoned with one of my pesto concoctions, defrosted from the freezer. This one was a mixed greens pesto, made last summer. Since it is almost garlic scape season, I need to finish off the last of the pesto containers from the basement freezer.

To complete that local flavor.

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Maryland chardonnay, from Big Cork.

Here’s to many more locally inspired and small business supplied dinners. It’s grilling season, big time.