Thursday, August 29, 2013

Maryland Wine trail - A visit to Elk Run and Catoctin Breeze Vineyards

August 29, 2013

Labor Day weekend is the traditional farewell to summer. Back in my school days, the day after Labor Day was the first day of school. Now they start school in August and run the buses just to close early for the day because of excessive heat in air conditioned facilities. I don't have that one figured out. I guess I don't have to since it's not my gig any longer, just my taxpayer dollar hard at work. 

Labor Day weekend also means vacation days. I like to extend every paid holiday a bit and this holiday is a six-day stretch. For Day One, my partner and I hit the road in search of Maryland wines. We headed east into Frederick County, traversing the winding Route 77 through Catoctin Mountain Park. It's not a road I'd like to travel in winter, but my Charger corners on a rail and it was fun on a sunny day. 

Catoctin Breeze Vineyard & Winery is just a stone's throw north of Thurmont, Maryland. We knew when we headed there they wouldn't be open on a Thursday, but we wanted to at least find the place. The day was more about the journey than the destination. We wanted to enjoy the drive and the countryside, not to mention play with my partner's navigation app. But back to Catoctin Breeze - 

It's newer and I must say very - very - accessible to people with canes. Nice level parking lot and NO steps to enter their patio area. A definite plus. A friendly young man with colorful tats on his arms greeted us and chatted for a few minutes. We were impressed with him, his big smile, and his genuine friendliness. He could have just as easily snapped at us that they weren't open and invited us to leave. Instead, he invited us to come back and we will eagerly do so. 

From Thurmont we headed farther east to Liberty Road in Mt. Airy, Maryland, and Elk Run Vineyards and Winery. Again, we took the scenic route instead of I70. Neither of us are too familiar with the highways and byways in that area and we drove through small communities we'd never heard of such as Graceham, Maryland. Very picturesque.

The first thing I noticed about Elk Run was it's not handicapped friendly at all. I don't know if I was really allowed to park my car where I did, but when it comes to my partner being able to enjoy the little things in life, do not get in my way. I think I established that in my last wine trail post a few months ago. BUT.... 

We were able to slowly and cautiously make it up the rise and the steps with NO HANDRAILS to enter to the tasting room. We were greeted by a friendly black and white cat whose name we never learned. 

Hey. We're cat people. Didn't you hear us making over the kitty? And didn't you hear the cat talking back to us? He/she knew we understand cat-speak. 

I suppose the owners aren't used to people stopping on Thursdays. My initial impression was the woman figured us as time-wasters, but she connected to us as our tasting progressed. I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and say she might have been unhappy with where I parked. Or maybe my honey sitting there tapping his cane on the floor annoyed her. It annoyed ME so I took it from him, an option she didn't really have. (Yes, I gave it back instead of hitting him with it.)

Anyway, she warmed up to us just fine and we had a lovely chat and tasting of six wines plus a swig of a Sangria they made for a special occasion thrown in for good measure. We tasted Chardonnay, Red Door, Cabernet Sauvignon Cold Friday Vineyard, Gewurztraminer Cold Friday Vineyard, Annapolis Sunset and Sweet Katherine. We liked each one, even the Chardonnay which as a general rule we're not too fond of. I found their pricing acceptable, and if we weren't diligently saving for a bathroom  renovation, we'd have gotten a bottle each of all six. We settled on a bottle of Annapolis Sunset and Sweet Katherine, a dessert wine that had both of us oohing and ahhing. 

The other cool thing the lady at Elk Run turned me on to is the Maryland Wine Passport. For $2 you get a passport the different wineries listed can stamp when you visit them. Best of all you get the addresses of the wineries for the navigation app on your smart phone! I'm ready for the next wine road trip! 


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