Happy Independence Day! You know, I almost forgot it was the 4th. Talk about an intense past few days. It is strange being back home after being gone so long. When I first stepped into my house Friday afternoon I was like, I’m home? This is my house? Then that freak storm blew through and knocked the power out, leaving me without AC in 100+ heat for 43 hours! You know it’s hot when you open your freezer door (which I only opened once while the power was out) to find frozen pizza dough not only thawed out but rising. Needless to say there’s still no cooking happening at my end, but I do have more Patuxent Trail wineries to share with you.
Friday’s Creek Winery is the most northern winery of the trail. Another Southern Maryland winery easily accessible to NoVA, the shortest route from Alexandria is a mere 35 miles. Though I have not tested it yet, that probably translates into about an hour drive with “normal” beltway traffic. They came highly recommended from all the other wineries I had visited up to that point, so I couldn’t not visit.
The winery itself is located in an old barn that has been converted into not only a winery, but also an art gallery. You’ll find works by local artists adorning the walls, tables, and shelves upstairs. Photography and paintings are the most prevalent, but you’ll also find sculpture and pottery. All are for sale if you find yourself fancying a piece. While upstairs in the gallery, you’ll also be able to peer through the glass into the “winemaking” room where the crushing and bottling happen.
When you’re ready, tastings are $5 a person for six wines. This is the toughest part since I counted 17 wines on the tasting menu! With a little help from Su, who was working the tasting room that day while her cousins (the winery is a family business) were preparing for a large group event coming that evening, I was able to narrow it down to the following.
Seyval Blanc – This is a great white wine to sip at the end of a hard day. The nose is full of fresh citrus with a very feint hint of oak. Made from grapes grown in their own vineyards, it is bright and clean and a tiny bit sweet (think dry riesling). I tasted tart stone fruits and even a little bit of honey on the back of my tongue.
Traminette – Another wine made from grapes grown in their vineyard, I can only describe it as beautiful. Another off dry wine, it reminded me a lot of Virginia Viogniers. The nose was full of roses and violets and stone fruits without being too “perfumey”. Even the palate had the same floral and fruit characteristics, but an herb like freshness prevents it from being overly sweet. I had to (and did) bring this one home with me!
Chardonnay – This white is very crisp and tart with notes of granny smith apples and pears. You’ll also notice a hint of vanilla and a light creaminess. If oak is not your thing, there is just enough that you may not like it. However, if you’re not afraid of a little creaminess, the bright acidity does help cut through it. That acidity reminded me a lot of New Zealand Sauv Blancs and Italian Pinot Grigios.
Barberra – With a beautiful jammy nose, this wine is made in a very Tuscan, rustic style. It has a bold palate with undertones of intense dried fruit flavors like raisins and apricots. The astringency in this wine makes it a good candidate to pair with hearty Italian fare. I found myself craving bolognese while tasting this one!
Chambourcin – Aaaah, Chambourcin, how I love tasting the different ways winemakers make you. Another wine made from the bounty of Friday’s Creek’s vineyards, the Chambourcin had some similar characteristics as the Barberra with bold jammy and dried fruit flavors. However, it was smoother on the palate and also had a bright juiciness of cherries and currants. There was even a hint of [thai] basil pepperiness!
Rubilee – I can’t remember which grape this wine is made from, but I do know that it is another varietal grown in their vineyards. Unlike the fruity noses on the Chambourcin and Barberra, the nose on the Rubilee is toasty, like roasted marshmallows. You’ll taste lots of tart berrylike flavors, but the backbone is very much the oak which gives this wine a nice structure. Very versatile, I can imagine having this wine with a number of dishes like a grilled lamb and even pasta dishes.
If I hadn’t had homework waiting for me back at PAX River, I would have stayed longer to enjoy a relaxing glass. The folks at Friday’s Creek are super friendly and fun to talk with, so I highly recommend staying a while during your visit if you can!