Bottles of Elk Run wine.
The remaining whites included Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and a pair of Chardonnays. I really liked the Sauv Blanc, but the Liberty Tavern Chardonnay was off the charts. It was perfectly balanced, earthy and silky smooth with honey and tropical notes.
Among the reds there was one blend. The single-varietal wines included Pinot Noir, Malbec, Syrah, two different Cabernet Francs and a Cabernet Sauvignon. All were very well crafted and I particularly liked the Cab Sauv, but the Cold Friday Cab Franc was my overall favorite. Geez! Dark fruit, structured tannins and a long finish are just a few of the descriptors. It is no mystery that it won gold in the Maryland Governor’s Cup. It is an excellent example of what is regionally possible for Cab Franc. Great wine!
It is quite common to visit a winery and find only one or two wines that are genuinely exceptional. That was not the case at Elk Run Vineyards. Everything I tasted was worthy of praise. Recommending this winery is something of a “no brainer.” In addition to world-class wine, it is a beautiful venue that also represents a bit of winemaking history. Stop in and let me know what you think.
There were 7 Maryland and 10 Virginia wineries in 1980 when Fred and Carol Wilson began planting grapes in the Maryland Piedmont. By 1995, Elk Run had nearly 25 acres under vine. Today those grapes are used to produce 3500 cases of fine wine annually.
Elk Run occupies a hilltop where the old-growth vines have good drainage and sun exposure. (There is a second and larger vineyard further west, so I cannot speak with authority, but I am told that it is an even better site for viticulture.) The tasting room is fairly humble, but cozy with separate spaces for large groups or events. There was a nice crowd assembled around the tasting bar and many of these were enthusiastic repeat customers.
The tasting sheet listed 18 different wines that were divided into four categories: dry white, dry red, slightly sweet and dessert. I will point out that “slightly sweet” does not mean sweet. At about 1.5% residual sugar, the sweetness was barely perceptible. That little bit of sugar simply brought out the fruit notes in the wine, which gave the impression of sweetness. Even the dessert wines were not cloying, but tended to be well balanced.
I prudently did not sample all of the offerings, but selected a few of particular interest and tried a couple others that were recommended by the Wilsons. I started with a sparkling Blanc de Blanc made in the traditional method (method Champenoise), which I’m convinced can compete with any sparkler on the East Coast.
Elk Run Vineyards and Winery Profile
Written by Brian Mar 19, 2017
Maryland’s Piedmont Region does not get nearly the attention it deserves. People are generally shocked to learn that the area north and northeast of Baltimore contains some of the best wineries on the east coast. Elk Run Vineyards just north of Mount Airy is one of those wineries of note.
In the 1960s, Fred Wilson worked for Constantine Frank in the Finger Lakes. Frank, who died in 1985, is credited with demonstrating the international grape varieties could grow in the Eastern United States. Frank also happens to be the most celebrated and historically significant New York winemaker. The fact that Wilson learned his craft from an industry legend is obvious when sampling the Elk Run wines.
In the vineyard on the property near Mount Airy.
15113 Liberty Road; Mt. Airy, MD 21771
Outside the Elk Run tasting room.
Promoting wine tourism opportunities in the Eastern United States
Open to Public
Wed-Fri,10 to 5; Sat 10 to 5; Sun12 to 5
A small crowd is gathered around the tasting bar.
Owner(s): Fred and Carol Wilson
Winemaker: Fred Wilson