Frederick Cellars


Editorial Review

The Post's Andrea Sachs wrote about this winery in June 2007:

Of Frederick County's five wineries, four are surrounded by classic viticulture landscape: tidy rows of vines with hardly a tendril out of place, a nearby weathered barn barely hinting at the wine flowing within. It's Napa Valley downscaled. Frederick Cellars is the anomaly. The winery is urban, or as urban as tranquil Frederick can get.

Emily Williams and her husband, Charlie Daneri, bought the winery last July from Catoctin Vineyards and opened in November. The grapes are grown in Middletown and Annapolis but are made into wine at the Frederick site, which sits near antiques and art stores, restaurants and rumbling traffic. Currently, only three of its wines are local from start to finish. But that didn't seem to bother visitor Rene Montserrat of Rockville, who walked away with four bottles after commenting: "That's good. That's local?"

Before visitors sample the wares, Williams implores them to tour the facility, which is attached to the art-gallery-style tasting room and retail store. The tour lasts no more than five minutes, and you need only to crane your neck to take in the whole operation. White pieces of paper with black type are taped onto each piece of equipment; a large posterboard with colored Magic Marker lettering explains the four winemaking steps. One of the more interesting attractions is the bottling machine, which resembles an entry for a 1950s science fair. The machine fills the bottles with red or white wine, then sticks the cork in and slaps on a label. No fingers are stained in the process.

To watch the machine in motion, check the cellar's Web site, which posts upcoming bottling sessions. (One is scheduled for late June.) The other wineries also have public viewings of their operations: Loew's grape-crushing machine operates out front during harvest time (August through October), and Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard in Dickerson has a mobile bottling station in its parking lot.

"We're not hiding out in the back making wine," said Carl DiManno, Sugarloaf's California-trained winemaker. "We are out front and center."

As are the owners, who seem more comfortable playing the role of host than businessman.