Bill Loew started planting in 1982, and the first bottle at Loew Vineyards was sold in 1986. Most of the grapes here are hardy cold-weather hybrids from the 1980s plantings. You can find chancellor, Marechal Foch, reliance and vidal blanc, all of which were popular in the early days of Maryland winemaking. There are also a few wines with local honey, strawberry, blackberry and other fruits blended in semisweet and sweet styles. The tasting room is old school, barely a shed cut into the hillside. We visited early on a cold day and we may have surprised Bill’s granddaughter, Rachel Lipman, who came down from the main house to fire up the space heater. We drank our first tastes in gloves as Lipman told stories about making her own blends of wine and growing up at the winery.
Highlights: Two Consenting Grapes features vidal blanc and reliance grapes in a simple, juicy-tasting summer sipper. Chancellor and Marechal Foch come together pleasantly in Classic Red to create a peppery, medium-bodied wine without any of the “foxy” wild animallike notes often found in red hybrid varietals. The chancellor shows up blended with cabernet franc in Harvest Red Reserve, a big round blend that can stand up to a cold-weather meal. Among the fruit-based wines, the Honey & Grape is a properly balanced sweet wine we are told is a long family tradition, and the blackberry flavored Country Classic would be refreshing lightly chilled as the weather warms up.
Loew Vineyards is a family business with Maryland staples from yesteryear. Lipman says she has a few surprises up her sleeve on the wine front that she will introduce after she perfects her clandestine blends and earns her grandfather’s approval.
Prices: Tastings are $8; bottles range from $15 to $26.
Food: Cheese and crackers are available.
Extras: Some local crafts are on sale.
14001 Liberty Road, Mount Airy; 301-831-5464; loewvineyards.net