Black Ankle Vineyards, set on 150-some rolling acres, made me a believer in Maryland wines almost as its soon as its first bottles appeared in 2008. I love their smooth Passeggiata, and crisp Viognier and Gruner Veltliner. The Terra Dulce may not really be port but its sweet richness is so satisfying. And it looks like I may have a new favorite, the newly released Quartzite.
We made a beeline to the Mount Airy when it reopened recently after a long, cold winter. (At least we had stored enough of their wines to carry us through.)
Even if the vines still looked like they’d be sleeping a while longer before pushing out leaves and at last fruit, there were plenty of hopeful signs pointing to a good year.
First, the white wines. Last year, wine lovers grabbed them all until the wine bins were bare. This year, there should be plenty — with 10 whites due to be released. Here’s hoping. The Quartzite we tasted contains the same fruit as their popular Bedlam, but it was crisp with a pleasant minerality. Can’t wait to try the other nine.
The barrel room has been expanded. The old blue metal building contains all the steel barrels while the new solar-powered hay-bale barrel room behind it houses all the red, safely aging in French oak barrels. They need the space. Production is on the rise from 3500 barrels to 7000.
A visit to Black Ankle is always a treat. Wines that delight. A warm and welcoming tasting room. Views of rolling hills with the sounds of a cow or a rooster reminding you this is a working far. And if you haven’t taken the tour lately, it’s time. (Offered Saturdays and Sundays at 1 p.m.) See what’s new. See what’s old. Learn about their latest efforts at sustainable farming.
Stay for an hour or stay for the whole afternoon. Bring a picnic or order a cheese plate to go with your glass or bottle. Sit by the fire inside the tasting room or enjoy the garden outside.
You know? This is going to be a good day.
© Text and photos Mary K. Tilghman