TIPSY TOURIST: New at Black Ankle Vineyards

The cozy tasting room at Black Ankle is constructed with hay bales and a green roof. The bar's counter is made from pressed grape vines. How sustainable!

The cozy tasting room at Black Ankle is constructed with hay bales and a green roof. The bar’s counter is made from pressed grape vines. How sustainable!

Black Ankle has a brand new and enormous barrel room, made from hay bales with solar panels along its flat roof.

Black Ankle has a brand new and enormous barrel room, made from hay bales with solar panels along its flat roof.

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.)

You're going to want to set a spell once you get here.

You’re going to want to set a spell once you get here.

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 soil here wouldn't grow anything, they say. Perfect for grapes. A sample of the rocky soil is displayed in the tasting room.

The soil here wouldn’t grow anything, they say. Perfect for grapes. A sample of the rocky soil is displayed in the tasting room.

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.

Skeptical about how this beautiful building can be made of hale? There's a window into its insides.

Skeptical about how this beautiful building can be made of hay bales? There’s a window into its insides.

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.

Outside is so inviting that folks hang out even when it's a little chilly. A basket of blankets and fire pits help keep the chill off.

Outside is so inviting that folks hang out even when it’s a little chilly. A basket of blankets and fire pits help keep the chill off.

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

Even the birdhouse overlooking the vineyards has a green roof.

Even the birdhouse overlooking the vineyards has a green roof.

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