Home Is Where The Wine Is


I know this title is cheesy but from me that’s to be expected.  I wouldn’t want it any other way.  And I didn’t realize until later, but how fitting to do this specific post on National Wine Day. I love when something unplanned comes to fruition and fits together perfectly. This is destiny.


For the first time or in the longest time I can remember, I volunteered at a wine festival. And the setting was meant to be.   The location, Merriweather Post Pavilion this past Sunday for Wine in the Woods.   And it’s only fitting that my indoctrination into the other side of the tent would be the namesake of where I live, Harford Vineyard & Winery.

Now I contacted a multitude of wineries, they were one of only a few to get back to me. And they were the first.

My one and only visit to this fiesta prior to this past Sunday was back in 2009.  I didn’t fully appreciate it.  I wanted to sample and drink everything in sight.  The tastings are unlimited so I treated this like a race (or a buffet) and not a marathon. I did not fully appreciate what I was a part of.  Oh and the hangover the next day was a tragedy.  I did seem to have fun, from what I remember.

Time flies and with time we hope to grow, and grow up.  This is not some full circle dramatic message here.   I just got to see it from the other side and loved every second of it.

I said hello to the owners and staff, and after a couple minutes of slip ups and nervousness, I was left on my own.


What was available for sampling were these dry whites:  Chardonnay, Traminette, and Vidal Blanc.

The semi-sweets were the Blush and Sweet Harmony.

The sweets were the Peach Kissed and Piedmont Pleasure.  The Pain The Town Red was sold out before I even started my volunteer shift.  And somewhere along the way the Piedmont Pleasure was sold out as well.

The only dry red was the Malbec, and that was an extra $1.00 for a premium pour.  For obvious reasons that was my favorite.  As much as I’ve had a sweet tooth lately, the sweet wines are not for me.  However, an exception, and a close second would be the Traminette, as I gave this to a dear relative as a birthday present a couple of years back.  This is purely based on sentimental reasons.

All the wines I mentioned are listed here.

Now that’s out of the way, I want to get to the essence of why this event was so fun.

Most of the people in attendance have very little care about the type of grapes, the region where they’re from, whether it’s aged in steel or oak, the notes, the hints, or even the vintage.  They just wanted a wine that that tasted good, made them feel good, and something they could identify with.

If you see some of the names of the wines, you’ll understand why so many folks were drawn and sold on certain bottles.   This was a down-to-earth and vino friendly crowd. These wines were user-friendly as many of the wineries intended to be.

The weather was appalling but that didn’t deter people from passing through in mass quantities to taste.  I can only imagine how busy it would be if the rain held off.  Sunday has always been known as the more laid back day, with more families than the frenetically paced Saturday.  I chose Sunday to volunteer for that reason alone.  But now I’m comfortable.

Approximately 100% of the attendees I poured for were grateful and happy to sample.  The reviews for the most part seemed positive.  Even if they didn’t care for certain wines, they were appreciative to get to try.  Many of these visitors were trying something new for the first time.  And that’s what makes this event so awesome.  You get a cheat sheet or CliffsNotes (remember those?) version of some of the best that Maryland has to offer.

I think in the two hours I poured wine, my knowledge grew and memories of some of the wines I’ve had myself, returned.  For the few attendees that asked more specific questions about the wine itself, I either asked one of the winemakers or has the base knowledge to help them.  This is not a fake it till you make it scenario.  I want to make it and then make it some more.

It’s ok not to know everything.  If I do, then I’ve done something wrong.  The wine experience is one where I’ll forever be thirsty for knowledge.   To me this will be everlasting, eternal, and enduring.  Here I go with my notorious alliteration again.

Most importantly, I’m happy I got to do to this.  I felt shaky at first but gained confidence by the minute.  I like to think I’m good to people.  I’m more of a listener than a talker.  So I enjoyed meeting some great folks, some friendships might have been formed, and even if there’s some people I’ll never see again, I may see them in the next life, or the next wine festival.

This is a great community.  The majority of us are here for the same reason, to share our passion and joy for wine.  It’s really that simple.  It’s a genuine comradery you just don’t find anywhere.  I was on my own but did run into a few friends.  But for the most part it was easy to engage with anyone because the setting and energy was authentic.

And Columbia, MD has always given me the warm and fuzzies.  I have some idea but can’t point my finger exactly as to why.

Here is more information on the winery , where to buy their wines, and a link to my previous reviews of their wines.

Finally, I want to give a huge thank you to the Mooney family.  I would be honored to do this again.  The whole point of this was to have fun and  met and exceeded all my expectations.

I did have time to enjoy the festival before and after, so more is coming….




Landmark Moves


The sun showed up this past Friday at one of my favorite quarterly traditions, the Landmark Wine Club party.


And the timing feels right and it feels necessary.  For inexplicable reasons I didn’t get around to reviewing the wines from their first soiree this year.  Maybe at the time it wasn’t meant to be.  Perhaps I was saving it for this go around.  More on that later.  And thankfully the weather worked in everyone’s favor.  It only enhances this and any event.


The three bottles in this package are all first-timers.  When I initially saw the list I was intrigued.   I had no idea what to expect.  Unfamiliar territory is a good thing.   But how quickly we soon forget. Landmark members got the first taste of our first wine, back in November.


The 2015 Viognier was my second favorite of the collection.  That’s saying a lot.  I really enjoyed it.  The summer fruits and floral aromas really came to light immediately.  I don’t want to open this immediately but I may be tempted too.  A friend in our group said he tasted grapefruit, so it should come as no surprise that the first thing I tasted was the same.  In essence, it’s a light-to-medium bottle that tastes and feels like summer.  And summer makes most folks happy.  So yes, this is a crowd pleaser.

A pleasant surprise was the ample amount of oysters available to pair with this wine. And I wish I had more.  Initially most folks were taking two-at-a-time but as the event was winding down, they were there for the taking.  I never used to love oysters but now I’ll try any.  And his worked masterfully. Oh how I adore the warm weather traditions.


But what I’m impressed with the most is how this wine (or any wine) has evolved.  What we had six months prior, in its infancy stages, compared to now is so fascinating.  It’s a part of the harvesting and aging process that I’m familiarizing myself with more. I’m astounded and grateful to have been one of the guinea pigs.  The picture above is from November 2015.


The 2015 Albarino was my least favorite of the three.  It’s never been a favorite grape of mine to begin with.   Where was the Viognier had a sour and bitter taste to it, the Albarino was a bit too sweet for me.  That’s not to say I wouldn’t have a glass but it’s not one I’ll be actively seeking.   My palates have expanded significantly.  Five years ago I’d be saying this was my favorite.


Finally, the crown jewel, was the New Vintage Petit Verdot.  Only 97 cases were made and only available to members.  This is where I wish my plan was for more than one bottle a piece.   I’ve overused the term life-changing for things.  I’m over-the-top and campy with it.  It may be a trite but this felt like that.  When I think of a wine should taste this is up there.  I want smokiness, dark fruits, and blatant tannins.  I want it heavy and full-bodied at its finest.

There is a familiarity with the wine largely in part that the grapes have been a part of their Landmark Wines in the past.  I have included the newsletter that expands on that along with the other 2 varietals.

My peers and some of the staff saw my reaction to the tasting.  It was genuine and that’s what the wine tasting experience should be all about.   What works for one may for another, but where is the fun in that?  It’s good that our palates and our tastes are all over the place.  We all don’t love the same grapes, the same aromas, and the same notes, and that makes this journey phenomenal.

This was a laid-back atmosphere and the crowd seemed a tad smaller than usual.  Which makes me think most folks would be attending the Saturday party.  But nevertheless, the Petit Verdot is one for the ages.  The suggestion is optimal tasting will be in two years.  I will be waiting a while to open this one.  And the event will symbolize the genius of this wine.   I’ll know when to uncork.


For more info on joining their wine club, click here.


And here’s a link to my previous posts on this endearing winery.

A huge thanks to Justine, Gerry, and Diane for being cordial as always.

Until the next party…



Lucky Number…


This isn’t about gambling per se.   Well maybe when it comes to time.  It’s the excitement of arriving at a place minutes before it closes.  It’s about getting down to the wire and and making it all work out at the eleventh hour.

With this I conclude my mini Susquehanna Heartland Wine Trail with part 3, Seven Mountain Wine Cellars.

After my previous two (1, 2) stops, I realized that if I picked up the pace, I’d make closing time by about 30 minutes.   I don’t regret my decision but like the preceding winery, I wish I had more time to appreciate this experience.

I didn’t want to be that guy.  And I hope I wasn’t but when I finally arrived I noticed the staff was starting to clean up and go home for the day.  I’ve never wanted to show up at a restaurant right before the kitchen closes or a bar right after last call, but I felt it.

Whether or not my fears were unwarranted is another story but I made it clear I was going to buy a bottle after this rapid-fire tasting.  That’s exactly what I did.  You see there’s a principle with this.  To show gratitude for sampling wines for free, it only makes sense to purchase at least one bottle for the road.


Sadly, the conversations about what each wine poured and what the grapes offered respectively was accelerated.   With that I was unable to fully appreciate what I was tasting.  So it’s not fair to judge these wines on this visit alone.   It’s not as if I was chugging then going on to the next.  But I can sometimes be my worst enemy when it comes to time management.  There is no rush in life but my rationale is that I’m rarely here and I’m trying to makes as many discoveries as I can in the self-imposed timeline I’ve given myself.   There it is.


I won’t go over every wine but I did pick an old favorite to take home.   As you can see my one-track mind led me to taste only reds.  And the Rattlehead Red is their Chambourcin that tasted solid at that moment, but I think it will age phenomenally with time.  If not, it will work just wine with a simple dish like pizza and pasta, as they suggest.


Funny how numerology works here.  The number seven and all. It could be reading too much into signs or maybe there’s more.

The real luck came from the staff who was kind enough to allow me to take pictures for my review.  I’m grateful all three wineries allowed me the freedom to do so.

Before I departed I met co-owner Mary Ann (her husband is the winemaker) who could not be more friendly.  She without saying so basically said my fears I referenced to earlier were unwarranted.  She is proud of her winery and they’re grateful for their customers locally and farther away like myself.


The vibe was such that going with friends would have heightened this experience.  But maybe my indoctrination process meant going at it alone.  I promised Mary Ann I’d be back and hopefully would have some friends with me.  They have some fun events coming up which I would love to partake in.

If you’re interested in purchasing their wines, go here.

And here’s a friendly wine primer.

I’ll leave you with a collage of some photos I took.  Enjoy and enjoy!  That’s sometime  I will be reminding myself to do as well.




Step Right Up


If you’re drawn to a label, chances are you will do a double-take, if not more. I experienced this first-hand over the weekend.

I was invited to hang out with some close friends that I hadn’t seen in some time.  Which is something I’m always grateful to be a part of .   And to show my gratitude I know I had to obtain a wine that fit the occasion.   Now for me and my pals, any solid wine will do.  But in this instance I wanted it to be a little more on the special and sentimental side.

There’s been times in the past (and even more recently) where I’d agonize and fret over finding the perfect bottle.  I’ve taken a task that should be completed in mere minutes and have sometimes extended that to nearly an hour.  I’m not kidding you. What’s supposed to be the most enjoyable part of all I’ve sometimes made an arduous expedition.


However, this past weekend it took me under 10 seconds to find said bottle.  I literally walked into a wine shoppe and was floored by this beautiful bottle. Without even figuring out what it was, or even the price, I said I was getting it.  It found me.

Ah the price.  That’s where that double-takes comes in again.   Thankfully, the 2013 Petite Petit from Michael David Winery was worth the $17 and then some.

I’ll admit, I was drawn to the elephants.  The circus imagery on the front and back evokes feelings of Springtime, positivity and happiness.  The hope is that it would translate to an exquisite tasting wine.   That’s exactly what happened.

The Petite Sirah and Petit Verdot combination is masterful. This is a full-bodied gem that deserves all the superlatives it gets.   It also helps having  great company around.  It can even make certain mediocre bottles much better than they are.  Luckily, the wine is anything but mediocre.

A lot of darker fruits, vanilla, and maybe even some chocolate might be present.   The tannins linger and do they linger.

Needles to say, this bottle never had a chance.  Between our small group, I was fortunate to have at least one glass.  For a bottle that’s heavier than what we might be accustomed drinking, it sure got decimated in a fashion that would suit lighter fare.

Maybe it was just being in the moment and enjoying each others’ company.   Time moves swiftly when you love life, love your friends,and love your wine.   This went by incredibly quickly.


A great wine mean great food needs to join and be its friend.   That pizza is legit.   With a heavier flavor means you need a little cheese and carbs.  This was magnificent on all levels.  I’m craving more as I write this.  We dined on other various snacks and treats, and they all paired fine with the bottle. The flavor and intensity of the wine paired well with everything.  It also pairs well with nothing.  It’s fruit forward enough that this can be had in solitude.   Heck, have it with food, with with friends, or alone, just because you can. That’s more technical for you.


I’m a fan and  I didn’t realize I’ve had some of their other wines.  I want more.  And if you want more, this is where you can find them.

If the opportunity presents itself, and it will, I hope to review more of their assortments.

For more of the winery and their story, go here.

I called an audible this week. I was set to conclude my recent winery tour with a third and final post.  I will get to that within the next couple of weeks.  Or if I’m feeling ambitious I will do a random post on a random day.  I’ve yet to do that.

For more on that stellar pizza, go here.

Take care,