The Winery at Elk Manor near North East, Maryland

The Winery at Elk Manor near North East, Maryland (Photo courtesy Elk Manor Winery)

The Chesapeake Bay region has more than 40 wineries in Maryland and Virginia. Some with great water views, one accessible by boat. Other wineries overlook peaceful rows of vineyards in the middle of farmland. 

Many vineyards have wines that appeal to sweeter, fruity tastes, while several wineries are working toward drier French Bordeaux and Italian Tuscan wine styles with award-winning results.

St.. Michaels Wine Fest

Rows of regional wine at St. Michaels WineFest

Both sides of the Chesapeake Bay are known for warm days and cool nights with sandy, well-drained soil making not only beautiful settings but increasingly well-received wines. Vineyards began around the Chesapeake in 1662 when Governor Charles Calvert planted 200 acres of European grapes on the east bank of St. Mary’s River.

Travel and Leisure Magazine says Virginia is one of five up-and-coming wine regions, along with Chili, Italy, Spain and New Zealand. Virginia has more than 190 vineyards today.

Broody Vineyards was the first modern vineyard in Maryland opening in 1945. The industry didn’t really start to take off until 2000, when the state legislature allowed wineries to sell by the glass at the vineyards. There was another jump in 2010 with passage of more vineyard-friendly state laws. That’s why you’ll find a lot of young vineyards around the Bay.

But their wine is starting to come of age in the bottles. And while not aged enough to be complex yet, you’ll find many selling varieties to appeal to all tastes, from sweet to dry. Great Frogs in Annapolis has been featured in wine tastings along side Stag’s Leap and other California titans of the U.S. wine industry. 

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