Thursday, December 19, 2013

Celebrating the Season at Fiore and Harford Wineries

Having heard about Harford Vineyard's "Go Local for the Holidays" event, occurring each weekend in December, my friend and I decided to head out to the winery to check it out. A friend of mine visited Harford, and two other wineries along the Piedmont Wine Trail, just as the harvest had begun (see the link below to the blog entry), and had spoken well of Harford Vineyard.

We arrived just after noontime, and followed the signs down to the room where piping hot soups were being served by local chef Michael Pescrille. Maryland crab soup and cream of crab soup were offered -- and both were delicious. In addition, small cheese platters were offered, providing a selection of cheeses, crackers, and grapes.

Harford Vineyard and Winery is located in the heart of the Piedmont Wine Trail (see http://www.marylandwine.com/ for more about the various wine trails), in as the winery's name suggests, Harford County (Md).

Our server was Theresa, one of the owners of the winery. She said they run the winery while working "day jobs," although her husband was planning on "retiring" soon so he can concentrate full time on the vineyard. Harford Vineyard was founded in 2003 when Vidal and Traminette grapes were planted, followed by Merlot grapes in 2005. Currently, Harford Vineyard offers 11 wines, that run the gamut from dry whites to sweet reds and a very popular peach wine.

True to my nature, I preferred the semi dry Vintage Vidal Blanc, but very much enjoyed the dry red, Crimson Moon. I also walked out of the winery with a bottle of the winery's Harford Blush, a semi-sweet wine. Day Trip Pal, who prefers red, preferred the Cabernet Franc.

There were a variety of crafts vendors -- some jewelry, some wine bottle crafts (some very clever lamps), and most interestingly, cigar box guitars! 


The day was still young and we had some time on our hands,
so Theresa recommended that we should try Fiore Winery, just 15 minutes away. Fiore, as its name implies, echoes its founders' Italian heritage and creates "Maryland wines with an Italian accent." Formerly a vineyard owner in Italy, Mike, one of the owners, had long wondered if the farm he and his wife owned since 1975 was the right location to bring a little bit of the old country to Maryland. He joined a Wine Growers Association to learn about French-hybrid grapes, which were the grapes popular with most growers at the time. Soon, Mike and Rose planted a small experimental vineyard behind their house and it slowly grew in size. Over the next 20 years, the pair turned their passion into prosperity. While working other jobs, they gradually increased their production from 1,500 to 35,000 gallons; and their wines have garnered them hundreds of awards, including 50 international medals between 2005 and 2008. 

Now they offer some 27 wines, including a very nice Rieseling that would compliment a traditional Christmas dinner of turkey, ham, fresh vegetables, and mild cheeses. There's a bit of humor at the winery, as they offer a line of wines called "That Stuff Tony Makes," that are intriguing and fun, such as the Green Apple Riesling and Blackberry Cabernet. As I've stated before in the blog -- I'm no wine expert, but I'm starting to learn what I like, and there were several wines Fiore offers that really intrigued me. With 27 wines and a wine tasting that only offers a choice of any six (although like Harford Vineyard, they were generous in offering additional tastes if you asked about a particular wine), I'm already planning a return trip just to try some of the others (I was driving, so I didn't want to try two tastings in a row). The wine server was knowledgeable and friendly, and was able to chat with us and make recommendations based on our tastes for which wines to try.

Since I love sweeter wines to begin with, it was no surprise that I fell in love with the Vittorio, a sweet desert port that offered complex red raspberry flavors, and made me think I was eating raspberries dipped in chocolate (yes, I splurged on a bottle, which I am saving for New Year's Eve). They recommend serving this wine with vanilla ice-cream.

Tip: If you avoid purchasing wine and pack your own picnic, this is a budget-friendly day trip!

On our way back to our car we encountered this funny pony hanging
about with three of her friends in the nearby pasture

Getting there: GPS it! Harford Vineyard is located at 1311 West Jarrettsville Road, Forest Hill, MD 21050; Fiore Winery is located at 3026 Whiteford Rd, Pylesville, MD 21132.

Dogs: No, not even for the holidays!!

Hours: Harford Vineyard tasting room hours Friday 12-6 pm, Saturday 10-5 pm, Sunday 12-5 pm; Fiore
Winery tasting room is open April through October Monday - Friday 10 am - 5 pm, Saturday 10 am - 6 pm, Sunday 12 pm - 6 pm and November through March Monday - Saturday 10 am - 5 pm and Sunday 12 pm - 5 pm.

Websites: Harford Vineyard http://stores.harfordvineyard.com/; Fiore Winery www.fiorewinery.com

Previous blogs about Maryland wineries:

Royal Rabbit, Mount Felix, and a previous visit to Harford Vineyards: http://www.midatlanticdaytrips.blogspot.com/2013/10/piedmont-wine-trail-harvest-time.html

Linganore Winecellars, Serpent Ridge Vineyards, and Black Ankle: http://www.midatlanticdaytrips.blogspot.com/2013/07/a-taste-wineries-of-maryland-first-in.html

Dejon and Boordy vineyards: http://www.midatlanticdaytrips.blogspot.com/2013/10/dejon-and-boordy-contrast-of-new-and.html

Red Heifer Winery: http://www.midatlanticdaytrips.blogspot.com/2013/10/red-heifer-winery-furlough-special.html

Elk Run: http://www.midatlanticdaytrips.blogspot.com/2013/08/yoga-and-wine-in-vineyard.html

Check out the blog's FB page for updates on places we've visited and blogged about:  facebook.com/midatlanticdaytrips!

Have you daytripped somewhere interesting? I'd love to hear what you're doing! Email [email protected] if you're interested in being a guest-blogger! 

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