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Free State Wine and Vinotrip: Better Together

November 18, 2010
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Hello dedicated fans and readers!

Vinotrip.com is one of Maryland’s most well-known wine blogs. In fact, search for “Maryland Wine Blog” on Google and you can’t miss it! After some discussion and much deliberation, Gary (the current author) and I have joined forces to bring you what will undoubtedly become the Best. Maryland. Wine. Blog. Evar.

In all seriousness, this move helps both Gary and I focus on what we do best, and in the end make a better blog for you. All my future posts will be exclusively on vinotrip.com. You can also follow my wine-related tweets on @vinotrip.

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We’re Back!

April 14, 2013

Welcome back to Free State Wine! If you haven’t already, please follow us @freestatewine on Twitter, and check back every once in a while for updates.

While Matt and Elyse have been busy elsewhere, a lot has been going on in Maryland Wine! Most recently, today marks the end of the Drink Local Wine Conference held right here in Baltimore, Maryland. Both the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post have reported on the event, and I’m sure more good news is to come – not only for Maryland Wine, but the entire Drink Local movement.

As festival season kicks off this month – both big ones, such as Wine in the Woods, and smaller winery-hosted events – we’ll be back reporting on that too. And enjoying Maryland Wine, of course.

What’s in your glass this weekend? Did you go to Drink Local Wine 2013?

Marylanders for Better Beer and Wine Laws Announces New Executive Director

June 8, 2010

As you may recall from this earlier post, Adam Borden resigned as executive director of consumer advocacy group Marylanders for Better Beer and Wine Laws (MBBWL) back in March amid accusations of… “aggressive” tactics in support of a bill that would have allowed direct shipments of wine to Maryland consumers (and wine bloggers). Despite Adam’s sacrifice – his only intention in stepping down was to allow the rest of the group to continue it’s work without any distractions – and all the effort on the part of MBBWL’s tireless volunteers, the bill ultimately never made it out of committee.

Now, MBBWL is gearing up for another push in 2011. The first step, of course, was bringing on a new executive director. Today the group named John Hesse, an experienced advocate at both the federal and state level in Maryland. It looks like John should have no trouble picking things up right away and moving the group even further toward a successful direct shipping bill. We wish him and all the supporters of MBBWL the best of luck during the next legislative session in what could be a very different political climate following state elections this fall.

You can read the complete announcement from MBBWL here and on their website at www.mbbwl.org. We’ll keep you posted on what you can do to help support direct wine shipping in Maryland as the opportunities arise.

**This article is cross-posted at vinotrip.com. I will post on both sites for the rest of June as we permanently merge the two sites on the vinotrip website. Please update your bookmarks, RSS feeds, etc.

Chesapeake Bay and Great Grapes Wine Festival

June 7, 2010

Two weeks after the first major Maryland wine festival of the year – Wine in the Woods – I headed out to scenic Kent Island in the Chesapeake Bay for the aptly named Chesapeake Bay Wine Festival. Since this is also a Maryland Wine Association-sponsored festival, many of the same wineries appeared on the guest list. A couple notable additions: Port of Leonardtown Winey and Mark Cascia Vimeyard, two wineries on opposite sides of the bay. Port of L-town opened for business within the last month, while the latter winery has been bottling for some time but only attends some of the regular festivals.

The following weekend (June 12-13), we hit the Great Grapes festival at Oregon Ridge Park, just north of Baltimore on I-83. While a third-party promoter puts on this festival, giving it a different vibe than the MD Wine Association-run events, the lineup still featured all local wineries. This is a little different from the event by the same name held in July at the Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds, which offers a more national/international selection from large-scale distributors.

Each festival presented a stark contrast to the theme park-like atmosphere often seen at the larger festivals. If you aren’t into the crowds at Wine in the Woods or the Maryland Wine Festival, this might be a perfect alternative for you. Not only were the pouring stations far more accessible, I had several opportunities to engage some interesting conversations with principles from some of the wineries. Special thanks to everyone I spoke with! If I listed out all the names, I’d run over my word count. 🙂

Here are some of my notable finds from the two festivals, which I look forward to enjoying soon:

  • Knob Hall Winery, Chambourcin: Not usually my favorite grape because it typically comes off with strong cherry notes (yuck), I really loved this one. Almost more like a merlot or cab franc. This is a relatively new winery with a strong focus on the grape; many of their wines are either all or some part Chambourcin.
  • Port of Leonardtown, Vidal Blanc: It’s already won some awards (but then, lots of wine does) and will serve as a nice, balanced table wine. Similar to a chardonnay but with a much more locally-viable grape.
  • Bordeleau, Chardonnay: Speaking of Chardonnay. They actually offer three at the moment, a barrel-fermented, California style with lots of oak; an oak/steel blend; and a completely unoaked. Although it’s trendy to make a ‘non-California’ chard right now, I’m a sucker for that oak finish so the all-barrel version wins for me.
  • Terrapin Station, Better Red than Dead: Post-style wine in a box. This is a new one from them, released since Wine in the Woods. It isn’t overly sweet, but like any port is better saved for a cool evening in front of a warm fire.
  • Orchid Cellars, Hunter and Archer: Wouldn’t be another Maryland wine festival without the chance to mention these excellent meads. Hunter leaves a spicy taste, while the archer is still dark and smooth but a little more mellow. Can’t wait for them to open a tasting room (hint, hint)!

Didn’t make it this year? Mark your calendar for 2011 now! And don’t forget to make your plans for the Maryland Wine Festival the weekend of September 18-19. There’s also the Annapolis Great Grapes festival the weekend of July 24-25; although not strictly a local wine festival, they will have some MD and VA wineries on site.

**This article is cross-posted at vinotrip.com. I will post on both sites for the rest of June as we permanently merge the two sites on the vinotrip website. Please update your bookmarks, RSS feeds, etc.

Maryland Comptroller Office Opens Study on Direct Shipping

June 1, 2010
Wines from Out of State

Wines you COULD be enjoying from other states if Maryland would let you - New Jersey, Virginia, Delaware, and Pennsylvania (left to right)

In compromise for denying Marylanders the same right to directly purchase wine enjoyed by residents of 37 other states ‘because the liquor lobby pays our salaries innocent kids can’t protect themselves,’ the state legislature commissioned a study of shipping laws and their implementation around the US so that we’d all be a little more informed for the 2011 session. That study kicked off last week, as reported by the Baltimore Sun yesterday.

The very critical article takes a harsh tone with the office for not including consumer advocacy group Marylanders for Better Beer and Wine Laws in the opening meeting. While I’m certainly glad they’re invited to round two, let’s put at least a little faith in the good people from the Maryland Wine Association, who were neutral on the bill in 2009 but have every interest in opening up additional markets for wineries around the state.

What’s your gut feeling on MD direct wine shipping in 2011? Will your vote in November hinge on the issue?

Upcoming wine festivals

May 31, 2010

Memorial Day weekend in Maryland is the unofficial start of summer. That means a ton of wine festivals are right around the corner too! Next weekend is the Chesapeake Bay Wine Festival in Stevensonville on the eastern shore, followed by Great Grapes in Cockeysille (near Baltimore) on June 12 and 13. Watch this space for highlights from both!

Is anyone going to either festival? Let me know and we’ll use @FreeStateWine on Twitter to meet up. And if you’re stuck at home, shoot me a message about anything you want me to check out!

Wine in the Woods 2010

May 23, 2010

Wine in the Woods! Okay, it was last weekend, but I’ve been a little busy – for one, my little old iBook G4 (circa 2005) finally gave up the ghost and I’ve been working from my Droid phone and iPod Touch. Back to the subject at hand, though. Every year the Maryland Wine Association kicks off their summer festival season with Wine in the Woods at Symphony Woods in Columbia, MD.

This year, more than 30 wineries from all across the state participated. Perfect weather and a rising recognition of Maryland wine in the local media helped push attendance on Saturday to one of the highest levels ever. Unfortunately, one of my favorites – Black Ankle Vineyards – didn’t make it this year, but I tasted a lot of other really great wine from both well-established and new wineries alike.

Read more…