- Published: Sunday, 22 January 2017 18:26
Maryland's Eastern Shore: Where Wine and Water intertwine
The Chesapeake Bay is an estuary: a body of water where fresh and salt water mix. It is the largest of more than 100 estuaries in the United States and third largest in the world. In many ways it defines one of Maryland's fastest growing wine regions - The Eastern Shore of Maryland...where wine and water intertwine.
Let's take a brief look at the "terroir" for wine country on Maryland's Eastern Shore. The Eastern Shore is a fantastic growing region. The soil is essentially loam, a highly fertile soil rich in nutrients and organic matter. Because it contains these three types of soils, it proudly boasts the two best qualities that a soil should have for growing grapes. The Eastern Shore climate is moderated/protected by the bay waters, effecting warm days and cool nights perfect for grape growing! Grapes are being grown up and down the Bay shoreline from the upper shore to the lower shore. Almost any style of grape can do reasonably well here. Maryland's Eastern Shore is located on the upper Chesapeake Bay, which is less prone to ocean climatic swings than the lower bay helping to provide a climate lock where temperature averages and extremes are very similar and more predictable for the grower.
Most of the grape growers on the eastern shore are also wineries and the good majority of them are members of the Chesapeake Wine Trail. The Trail currently consists of fifteen plus wineries paralleling the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. All of the trail wineries are within a forty five minute drive to Chesapeake Bay Waters, seven wineries are right on Chesapeake Bay Rivers and Creeks, and three have tasting rooms in charming waterside eastern shore towns separate from their vineyard locations. If you are visiting the harbor towns of North East, Chestertown and St. Michaels you'll find the tastings rooms of Turkey Point Vineyard, Cassinelli's and St. Michaels Winery. If you are a boater you can easily get to half of the wineries on the trail from public landings and marinas!
The Chesapeake Wine Trail, a program of the Maryland Wineries Association, is distinct from the ten member Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail located on the western side of the Chesapeake Bay on Virginia's Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula. Maryland has seven Wine Trails including the Chesapeake Wine Trail which is Maryland’s largest wine trail, both in terms of geographical distance and number of wineries. The Eastern Shore of Maryland makes up a good majority of the Delmarva Peninsula, which is the largest agricultural area on the Atlantic Sea board. The Chesapeake Wine Trail stretches more than the length of Delaware and the trail wineries are located at the most northern point near the Pennsylvania border all the way down to Princess Anne, Maryland, which is not far from the Virginia border. Some of the wineries are only open only on weekends or seasonally or by appointment only. Wineries with a longstanding agricultural lineage such as Crow Vineyard & Winery, Layton's Chance Vineyard and Winery and Triple Creek Winery are creating successful businesses with tasting room sales and events. Crow in particular is helping to shape a new notoriety for wine country on Maryland's Eastern Shore, winning awards outside of the Maryland area in west coast competitions. Both Crow and Layton's are pretty much open year round, every day. The total number of licensed wineries on the Eastern Shore of Maryland could currently be tallied at twenty if you include Mt. Zion Orchard that makes sulfate free wine from the Aronia berry. Five more wineries are projected to open in 2017-2018. That's a lot of growth considering that there were only five licensed wineries on the Eastern Shore of Maryland just ten years ago.
Perhaps the biggest influence of the Bay on Maryland's Eastern Shore Wine Country is that crossing its waters, whether from the west via the Chesapeake Bay Bridge or from the north over the C&D Canal, symbolizes a passage to an idyllic pace of life and bountiful local resources....fresh crabs, local produce, forever farm fields, historic towns and infinite meandering waters for boaters to explore. The Bay's tidal tributaries - 11,684 miles of shoreline—total more than the entire U.S. west coast! In many ways the Chesapeake Wine Trail is the artery to experience this lifestyle. In fact, if one were to mark a driving route for the Chesapeake Wine Trail a good majority of it would follow the "Chesapeake Country" Maryland scenic byway covering 419 miles from Chesapeake City to Crisfield, Maryland, an open space drive paralleling bay waters and rivers with a growing number of wineries to visit and sip a taste of Maryland's Eastern Shore.
How Trail Wineries Intertwine with Bay Waters
Turkey Point Vineyard & Tasting Room: The North East Tasting and Gift Shop is within walking distance to North East harbour; the vineyard down the road is minutes from a fantastic view down the bay from Hart's Amphitheater.
Chateau BuDe Winery and Vineyard: Tasting Room views and gracious vineyard slopes to the Bohemia River and Hack's Point Marina.
Crow Vineyard & Winery: Peaceful Turner's Creek landing on the Sassafras is less than 10 minutes away. Stay at the Crow's Farmstay B&B, enjoy the hospitality and the award winning wines and bring your kayaks.
Cassinelli's: Walk up High Street from the Chestertown Marina on the Chester River and enjoy locally crafted B.A.D. Alfred's Distilled Spirits and local wines for purchase.
Clovelly Vineyards: Cruising the Chester River? Stop at Rolph's Wharf Marina walk up the road and sip wines riverside at Clovelly (weekends spring summer and fall scheduling).
Cascia Vineyards: Cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and you are minutes from Cascia Vineyards; motoring on Eastern Bay? Go up Cox Creek and dock right at Cascia's Wine Tasting Room.
St. Michaels Winery and Little Ashby Vineyard: Both located right on the beautiful Miles River off the Bay's Eastern Bay, St. Michaels Winery is a a great retail tasting room in a lively maritime tourist harbor town further up river secluded and by phone appointment is the rustic Little Ashby
Laytons' Chance Vineyard and Winery: Take the back road and in 10 minutes you land in historic Vienna right on the sprawling Nanticoke River. Also in twenty minutes visit the Blackwater National Refuge area.
Bordeleau Vineyards & Winery: "Bordeleau" means water's edge and this winery is right on Wicomico Creek a meandering arm of the Nanticoke River.
For map of Chesapeake Wine Trail and other Maryland Eastern Shore wineries click here.