TIPSY TOURIST: Elk Run Vineyards

Humans have some competition for Elk Run's grapes.

Humans have some competition for Elk Run’s grapes. This bee has good taste; these are Chardonnay grapes.

“Wine is all about tradition,” says Carol Wilson, who co-owns Elk Run Vineyards in Mount Airy with her husband, Fred. They planted their vines in 1995.

The door on Elk Run's storage shed comes from St. John's Church in Westminster.

The door on Elk Run’s storage shed comes from St. John’s Church in Westminster.

And for Elk Run, tradition begins with the very dirt. The vineyards planted in schist and shale along Liberty Road in Frederick County are part of an ancient estate of Lord Baltimore, one of Maryland’s founders.

The Wilson family called their vineyard across the street from the house and winery “Cold Friday” after the name that the land has had possibly since the days of Lord Baltimore.

They produce Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, Cab Franc and Maryland Merlot, Gewurztraminer and Gypsy Rose. Elk Run’s Pinot Noir is one of three grown in the state — and their 2011 vintage won best of class in the Atlantic Seaboard Competition this year.

Pinot Noir grapes just about ready for harvest. Netting keeps the birds away. We hope.

Pinot Noir grapes just about ready for harvest. Netting keeps the birds away. We hope.

Fall is prime time for vineyard visiting. You might have a chance to see grapes being harvested, or pressed.

Chardonnay grapes on their way through the press.

Chardonnay grapes on their way through the press.

This is a small operation, so if you stop by you just might see the family at work. When we stopped by, it was Maryland Wine Festival weekend. But the Wilsons were on hand. Carol was pouring the  wine and talking about the vineyard while Fred was feeding Chardonnay grapes into the press.

Grapes hung heavy and dark on the vines. And the bees were thrilled to see them. So were we. Elk Run has a bottle for every taste. In fact, their wines run the gamut from a sparkly Blanc de Blancs to a dry Chardonnay to a sweet Sweet Katherine.

Elk Run is a friendly way to begin a Frederick County wine tour. In the space of 10 miles through rolling countryside, you can enjoy the view and the vines of  Black Ankle, Loew Vineyards and Linganore Winecellars after visiting Elk Run. And if you are really thirsty, a few other wineries are also located in Frederick County.

Tipsy Tourist is an occasional series of bars, taverns, saloons, watering holes of note — not that we’re advocating tipsiness, of course.

© Text and photos Mary K. Tilghman

Previous Tipsy Tourist posts on wine: 

If you have a favorite spot you’d like to see here on Thirsty Thursday, let me know. 

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