Our Visit to Zephaniah Farm Vineyard

What a great winery! We lucked up and had Bonnie and Bill, the owners, help us. They are such nice people. Zephaniah Farm Vineyard is a little different from other wineries in that instead of ponying up to the tasting bar, you choose one of 3 rooms to sit in and they bring the wine to you to taste. Such a unique concept. Love It! 

While we were there, we tried Chambourcin, of course! We also tasted 2 great whites–Steamship and Adeline. Honestly, we liked pretty much everything. I think in part because, as Bonnie shares with us, this is a family business and as such they vote on the wine before they release it. 8 people have to come to consensus! Again, something for everyone here.

What’s also unique is that Zepahniah names their wine after family or significant elements of their family. And, they don’t have wine club and, are only open on the weekends. However, you can call if you have a wine emergency. They are happy to help you. 

When you go, ask Bonnie for her no-stir risotto recipe. It pairs well with the Steamship White.

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Thanksgiving Cocktail

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This year, we hosted Kelley’s family for Thanksgiving. We thought it would be fun to have a cocktail and Half Baked Harvest came to the rescue. We decided to try her Grapefruit Margarita sans the spice and made a big batch. 

The first step was to hit Costco for the tequila. You cannot beat $20 for a large bottle of tequila. And, the day before I juiced 16 limes! I also juiced 10 fresh grapefruits. The freshness factor makes all the difference which is why I sacrificed and didn’t take shortcuts. The result?? You tell me when you try it.

Groupon is Your Friend 

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A few weeks ago, I was on Groupon and saw a deal for Running Hare Winery that we could not pass up. Normally the Groupon’s for this winery run $22 but on this day they were $5 off plus an additional $10 so we paid $7 at the end of the day for 2 wine glasses and a bottle of wine. Score!! We thought to use it on a quiet weekend, which happened to be this past weekend. 

I like Running Hare because the grounds are gorgeous and if Kelley and I hadn’t gotten married 10 years ago, we may have tied the knot here. The other reason is its about 45 minutes aaway whereas most wineries we visit are just over one hour. The wine at Running Hare, or the Crockpot Winery, is good and makes for a  great afternoon. However, the downer is that they only plant two grapes-Chambourcin and Cayuga. All other varietals are shipped in from NY. 

We stuck with our usuals, the Sangiovese and Reisling. I would like to see more. Since we have been going there has been nothing  new except the Cabernet Sauvingnion but that’s only for club members and runs $65 per bottle. A nice plus is that they have an outdoor tasting room which stays open most of the year.

It’s a great place to visit if you have a Groupon and I highly encourage you to pick one up for a pleasant afternoon in Southern Maryland. Groupon also has great deals on other wineries so don’t sleep on those deals. Great Shoals has a Groupon up, too, and you know how we feel about them.

Frederick Wine Festival 

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​We won tickets from Jen over at Love and Wine Blog to attend the Frederick Wine Festival. Thanks Jenn!! First off, it was hot as hell when we went and because I was on vacation and hadn’t been to the grocery store, we hit up Costco for the Caesar salad and chicken sandwich combo for $6.99. Yay Costco! We love that place.

On to the wines…where to begin? The one main winery I wanted to visit was Big Cork Vineyard and I must say their wines were some of the better wines we tasted. As Kelley and I reviewed the litany of wines we tasted, one thing is to be said about Maryland Wines–overall, many of the wines are mellow and differ in the level of “robustness” of Virginia wines. And, almost every winery had a Vidal Blanc and they all tasted totally different. The best for us, was Rockland Farm Vidal Blanc. It stood out for sure. 

We did hit Orchid Meadery and Winery. They were totally different, I mean, it’s a meadery! And, if you aren’t familiar, meads are made with honey and water. Technically it’s a wine but it’s a mead in reality. We had one that was spicy and I’m telling you, it was sweet and spicy and something totally different on your pallette. Go there and buy!

The other stand outs were the 2014 Sauvignon Blanc from Big Cork and the Russian Kiss. Kelley really enjoyed the ciders from Cidery. They were not sweet at all and they told us this when we tasted. Totally different than the ciders we like at Great Shoals but still really good.

I’m really glad we went and we can’t wait to visit Frederick again…when it’s not so hot. 

A Sweet Sunday Afternoon

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I particated in a wine tasting event with an organization I belong to one beautiful Sunday afternoon at Romano Winery. Our tasting was led by Joann Romano, the co-owner of Romano Winery, which is located in Brandywine, MD. I ended up at what I dub the “sweet table.” All but one of my table mates liked sweet wine.

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We started the tasting from the top and I found it interesting that Romano has only steel tanks. I was curious how this impacted the flavor of the varietals. From what I could tell the lasting finish wasn’t there where its present in many oaked wines. The stand outs for me where the Rougenon and the Fallen Leaf. Both seemed to be good summer sip wines. They weren’t sweet and weren’t dry either, definitely in the middle.

Romano has great prices with wines costing $12- $16. We also tried the wine slushies they had but those were a little two sweet for me but I did like the idea of a wine slushy.

The day definitely made for a sweet afternoon.

Kung Fu Girl Reisling

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I was cruising Trader Joe’s and ran across this wine. A few years ago another blogger blogged about it and I always remembered it so decided to give it a try. At my local Trader Joe’s, this wine was $11.99. In my book, Reisling can be a hit or a miss because they are either too sweet or or not that sweet. This one was right in the middle. It wasn’t super sweet but it had a little citrus, too. What was amazing is that I thought it tasted better the next day. Usually,  wines lose their luster after the first opening but this was better because it was just a little sweeter without being over sweet which is what it needed.

Cabernet Franc Ala Great Shoals

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It’s Monday and a rainy day in May. It’s cool outside and you are having grilled cheese & fries for dinner–pure comfort. So, what do you pair with that combo? Cabernet Franc from Great Shoals, of course! It’s bold, but not overpowering. It’s not dry and not sweet but robust and full bodied making it perfect for the weather. There’s a very slight peppery-ness on the nose and it has 13.5% alcohol which is always perfect for the first day of the work week. And considering Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon are two of my favorite grapes, happy Monday folks!!

We highly recommend Great Shoals as a winery to visit and their wine club is awesome.  The staff is great and Matt, the winemaker, is a pleasure to talk to and he’s so creative. Check them out for sure. Don’t be surprised to see us pouring this summer/fall for one of their wine festivals. Yes, we like them that much.

Now off to finish my glass. Mmm…what will Tuesday bring?

That Can’t Be Chardonnay?

In April we headed out to the Decanter Festival sponsored by Maryland Wine. This year it was held at Laurel Race Track and they have a Kentucky Derby-esque theme. I say “esque” because we dressed up but several folks didn’t but I think it adds to the fun of the event. Anyway, when we arrived, we noticed that the wineries we hadn’t tried were inside and those wineries we had visited or were familiar with were outside. Maryland Wine, do you read our blog?

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We were intentional to visit those wineries that weren’t near us like those in Harford County or near the PA/MD line. I must say, that was a good idea. These places had some good stuff!Today we wanted to spotlight the Chardonnay at Harford Vineyard and Winery. This particular wine was rather crisp, a little fruity and totally different than any other Chardonnay we’ve tried. And, even though it had these qualities, it wasn’t sweet but more like refreshing. Chardonnay tends to be oaky and dry. This was the total opposite and I couldn’t believe it was Chardonnay. It was great for summer and definitely on my “sip list.” Can’t wait to visit and get another bottle.

Getting The Most From Your Winery Visit

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We have visited several wineries and along the way, have learned a few tips when visiting wineries. With the summer season upon us, this is a great time of year to share a few things we have learned.

1. GO EARLY: when you visit a winery early in the day (like near opening time) there is a very good chance you don’t have a crowd, the tasting associates aren’t rushed and you can be a little leisurely with asking questions and sampling. And besides, who wants to visit a winery 15 minutes before they close–no bueno.

2. CALL IN ADVANCE: there is nothing worse than visiting a winery and not knowing what time they close, how much the tasting fee is and any events going on when you visit. These factors can enhance an experience when in your favor or make it a disaster when not.

3. PACK SNACKS: as you can tell we love taking snacks to wineries.  Hummus is always a winner and so is guac because they pair well and don’t overpower. We almost always pack snacks unless we are doing a quick pick up. Food helps you enjoy the experience. It’s great to go with friends, eat a few bites and split a bottle of wine. Bringing your own food also saves some $$. Some wineries offer bites but they can add up. Pack your own this way you are enjoying what you know you will like. Also, when you call ahead, you’ll find out of you can bring outside food as not all wineries allow this.

4. GO OUTSIDE: most wineries have vines on the property and picturesque views. Sit outside for a bit and soak up the scenary. Gorgeous views mellow you out and remind us to take in nature’s beauty.

5. HAVE FUN!

The DC Beer Scene

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We had some time to kill on a Sunday afternoon before picking up our little ones so we decided to explore the DC beer scene. Our introductory brewery was Right Proper Brewing located in Brookland which is in NE DC near Catholic University. They also have a location in Shaw.

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We arrived about 4:30pm which was perfect timing because that place was jumping within an hour of our arrival. Unlike wineries, beer tastings are by the ounce so a 4oz tasting was $2. We ended up trying about 9 beers. I tended to go to the lighter crisp side and Kelley was in the middle with the “hoppier” beers.

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The standouts for us were the White Bicycle and the Astral Weeks. The White Bicycle is a light, crisp beer and the latter is a nice tropical beer. You can really taste the tropical notes.

Two great thing about Right Proper are they are open until 9pm (even on Sundays!) and they have a deal right now that Mondays-Wednesdays you can get your growler filled for $10. The regular price starts at $14. Sweet deal! Kelley stopped by on a Wednesday and picked us up a growler and got it filled with White Bicycle for $15. Two days later we had it with homemade pizza. Totally hit the spot!