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Don't Ignore Maryland

Friday, August 28, 2009

Maryland has just a fraction of the wineries that Virginia has, but there is a cluster not far from the Beltway that's worth the effort -- the Frederick Trail. A few stops you should make:

Black Ankle Vineyards

This newcomer -- it opened only last year -- is building buzz for its dry, sophisticated wines such as its red Crumbling Rock blend (with notes of graphite and crushed rocks, we swear). But folks also come through to check out the "green" tasting room; under the bar's glossy veneer is a texture created from dried grape vines, the walls are insulated with bales of hay and the tables have been crafted from tree trunks.

14463 Black Ankle Rd., Mount Airy. Tasting, $5. Wednesday-Thursday noon to 5 p.m.; Friday, noon to 8; Saturday, noon to 6; Sunday, noon to 5. Free tours by reservation, Saturday and Sunday at noon. 301-829-3338 or http://www.blackankle.com.

Linganore Winecellars

at Berrywine Plantations

The first things you notice in this Mount Airy winery are the stacks of wines: Terrapin White, Skipjack, raspberry, blackberry, Tej -- 30 in all. And they are the reason to visit. Linganore is one of the few places you can taste mead, a honey-based wine with ancient roots, or dandelion wine, a green, herbal concoction. Tastings here are wallet-friendly (they're free), and there are tours of the facilities every day at noon, 2 and 4 p.m.

13601 Glissans Mill Rd., Mount Airy. Open weekdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 301-831-5889, 410-795-6432 or http://www.linganore-wine.com.

Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard

You'll find this three-year-old winery just a few turns off Interstate 270 in Dickerson, which makes it one of the easiest wineries to reach from Washington. Once there, do a tasting, then grab a seat outside to nosh on cheese and crackers. But make this part of a day trip, since there isn't a lot to do.

18125 Comus Rd., Dickerson. Short tasting of four wines, $5; full tasting of 10 wines, $10. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday noon to 6 p.m. and Saturdays noon to 8 p.m. through October. Hours change in November. 301-605-0130 or http://www.smvwinery.com.

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