Had to take a bit of a drive recently for a wedding. It was held near Ocean City, Maryland, and the weekend saw us doing a bit of driving up the Delmarva Peninsula. Beautiful views of the Chesapeake Bay, got to see the Ocean, and wonderful weather. Leaving in the early morning, the air was crisp, the trees were starting to change, and the sky a beautiful blue. It make us realize that Fall is quickly upon us (having started September 22 at 10:49 a.m. EDT for you Wiccan readers). Many of you probably know that this can mean only one thing: Octoberfest.
Fall isn’t just for beer and schnitzel and pumpkin pie. It’s also a great time for Fall wine.
One of the things coming up on the Eastern Shore (as that area of Virginia, Maryland and Delaware is known) is the Maryland Autumn Wine Festival in Salisbury, Maryland. Salisbury is a lovely town that started as a shipping outpost for Lord Baltimore (yes, that Baltimore) and for quite a while was almost as important as Baltimore, Maryland as an Eastern Seaport. You should also know that Purdue Chicken is located in Salisbury, and the Eastern Shore is littered with chicken farms. It makes for an interesting aroma when the wind comes off of the ocean.
Anyway, the Maryland Autumn Wine Festival is the weekend of October 20, and will feature music, crafts, food, and a number of Maryland wineries. One of these is Linganore, from New Market, Maryland. Jack and Lucille Aellen planted their first vines in 1972, and have been making wine in a 19th century barn since 1976. It seems that Lucille’s father had a taste for wine, as they used his old equipment to make their first wines by hand. They offer an Estate Bottled Chambourcin that is great with a Fall prime rib dinner.
But not every good Fall wine is made in Maryland. A few hours West of Salisbury will find you in the lovely foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. A few miles North of Charlottesville, Virginia (home of wine snob Thomas Jefferson) you will find the town of Stanardsville. This is the home of Ed and Avra Schwab, owners of Autumn Hill Vineyards. We like their slogan, “Virginia Wines with a European accent.” We also like their boast, “No sweet wines here.” They like full bodied, dry wines, and with a name like Autumn Hill, we imagine that they like the beautiful views that the season brings to their little slice of Virginia. They have a 2010 Merlot with hints of plum and black cherry, a wonderful pairing with some pheasant or duck.
You know, you don’t even have to be on the East Coast to get into some Fall wine. You may instantly think of cheese, cheese heads, and the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field when you think of Wisconsin. Fair enough, but what goes great with football and cheese? Wine. And when you’re thinking football, why not go with Autumn Harvest Winery, located in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin? The Mcilquham family started growing apples three generations ago. They expanded into wine business a few years ago, and while they still do a pretty brisk business in cider, they produce a number of wines using local grapes, all with a nod towards the family business. We tried their Northern Lights, a white that is a little on the sweet side, but we could definitely taste the apples.
If you find yourself out West, you can pay a visit to Richard Frank. Richard was a Disney executive, and vacationing in the Napa Valley made him decide to throw away his mouse ears. A friend told him that the Larkmead Winery was for sale. It was started in 1884 and is on the National Register of Historical Places. He bought the winery in 1992 and became Frank Family Vineyards in 2007. You may have to travel to Napa to get it, but their 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon has leather, spice and cedar tones, a perfect fall wine for a spell in front of an Autumn fire.
Why not ask Richard Brinsley Sheridan? He was the owner of Theatre Royal in London. When it burned to the ground in 1809, he grabbed a glass of wine and commented, “A man may surely be allowed to take a glass of wine by his own fireside.” Wonder if he brought marshmallows?