I’ve hit the trail, so to speak, recently visiting, and then revisiting, Running Hare Vineyard in Prince Frederick, MD. If this is what the Maryland wine scene is going to end up looking like, then I can hardly wait! The vineyard is set back a mile off the main road, far enough to completely detach you from the surrounding world. As you approach, a view of the vineyard opens up before you, revealing a Tuscan style event building on the hillside in the distance, and several acres of vines in the foreground. This looks like the sort of place you might want to get married, and, in fact, Running Hare offers vineyard rentals for just such an occasion. Wine tastings are held Wednesdays through Sundays, noon to 6:00 PM. During the winter, they are held in the event building, but during warmer months they are held under a pavilion nestled between two fields of vines. Sundays bring live music to the vineyard, and folks are encouraged to pack a lunch, buy a bottle, and enjoy the entertainment.
Now, while all of this is wonderful, it would be nothing more than window dressing if the wines weren’t worth going for. Fortunately, they are. I’d grown in the past to expect Maryland wines to be little more than imitations of better wines found elsewhere. Not anymore. These folks take their winemaking seriously, as evidenced by the numerous awards and medals they’ve collected, and we get to reap the benefits. The winery offers a variety of both reds and whites, from Shiraz to Chardonnay, as well as two semi-sweet “table” wines (Jack Rabbit Red and White), and a dessert wine made from the Chambourcin grape.
Each that I have tasted is a solid example of that particular style. I’m a fan of the reds, but the friends I’ve taken to the winery have gravitated toward the Jack Rabbit White, especially paired with a sandwich in the shade of an umbrella and listening to Gerry Swarbrick and Charlie Birney singing Van Morrison. Perhaps when the weather turns colder and our lunch options turn from chicken salad to cheeseburgers I’ll be able to convince them the Malbec is a better pairing. But until then I’m not exactly going to complain.