May 2, 2008

Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyards - Maryland

Maryland's Sugarloaf MountainSometimes in life, the most pleasant of days cannot be planned. They just happen. Such was the case this Wednesday when I took the afternoon off to visit some old friends in Barnesville, MD.

Victor and Linda Pepe live on 150+ acres in the shadow of Maryland's Sugarloaf Mountain. Their farm is called "Stella's Dream" in memory of Victor's Mom. It is a beautiful property. Rolling fields, ponds, streams and at least 100 bluebird houses are scattered across the acreage. It is a wonderful place to decompress, and I tend to invite myself to see them at least every other month.

We sat in the kitchen catching up on each others lives. I have a 25 year history with these friends. The best part of the day is when we re-tell stories from the past. Over the years the same stories re-told get better and better. Of course, lunch was accompanied by a few bottles of wine. Victor asked me if I had ever tasted the local wine produced by Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyards. I told him that I had not. Honestly, I have never even heard of the vineyard. That is all Victor had to hear. We were off on a field trip.

The vineyard is only a few miles from Victor's farm. We arrived to the tented tasting room about 2:30, and were welcomed by the staff. The vineyard is a work in progress. While the wine processing, storage and bottling areas are functional, the tasting room is currently housed in a large tent attached to the winery. A cozy tasting bar and tables fill the comfortable space where you instantly feel at home.

A huge red barn is being renovated adjacent to the tasting tent. This will eventually house a formal tasting room and be the central focus of the winery. Plans for the space include a larger tasting room and space for entertainment. This is a perfect spot to hear music while drinking wine in the shadow of Sugarloaf Mountain.
You feel excited when you see what they have done here. It will be difficult for even the most uncreative soul not to see the potential of this space.

Josh Parker manages the tasting room at Sugarloaf. A young man just shy of 30, Josh has an obvious passion for what he does. With a good understanding of wines, and a contagious passion for the Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard, he is a wealth of knowledge. We spent quite a bit of time conversing about the wines and future plans of the owners. He also has a deft hand when blending his delicious sangria recipe. Be sure to try a glass if it is available!

I spent the afternoon with my old friends and new friends drinking wine and noshing on some fabulous local goat cheese sold in the tasting room. ALL of the wines here are worth tasting. There is a Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet and a few Bordeaux blends. It was interesting to see they produced both a Left Bank and a Right Bank blend. Both were good, and for about $20, they rival some of the best local wines I've tasted.

The vineyard is open Wednesday through Sunday for tasting. There is a nominal fee for tasting, but grossly inexpensive considering the good wine and great company. I find it hard to believe that anyone would leave here without a smile on their face. More importantly, a long thought as to when they can return. I can guarantee it will be a destination for me at least a few times this summer.

Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard has a great website with information on the wines, the winery history and directions. Be sure to let them know that WineGent sent you!

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