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Black Ankle Vineyards
K. L. Sullivan

Summary: Black Ankle Vineyards tasting room will open in summer 2008 with wine from its 2006 and 2007 vintage. Owners Sarah O’Herron and Ed Boyce want to create great estate wines. The emphasis here is on quality wines for the “serious wine drinker.” Sarah pointed out, “our goal is to make great wine.” Located in Maryland’s countryside, the location of this new winery makes it a very pleasant drive from the Baltimore/Washington metropolitan area. The tasting room will feature quality Riedel wineglasses for tastings.

Black Ankle WineryAfter careers in the business world, Sarah, the winemaker, and her husband Ed, vineyard manager, decided to create a winery. They researched the issue. Finding the “right” spot took a year of searching. Checking the soil, climate and waiting for permits took time. Meanwhile a temporary building houses the winery equipment and wine quietly ages in French oak barrels and stainless steel tanks. Today the farm estate sits amongst the rolling hills of Frederick County, Maryland.

The location of Black Ankle is on a 140-acre farm. It is here that the owners have planted 22 ½ acres of grapes. Sarah and Ed planted the first vines in 2003 and more in 2004. They plan to add more acres of vines in the future. Eventually a driveway will be added to give visitors a view of the vineyards on both sides as they approach the tasting room.

Black Ankle VineyardBlack Ankle VineyardsThe young grapevines are in very straight rows across rolling hills. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Syrah, and Pinot Noir are the red wine grapes planted. Chardonnay, Viognier, Muscat, Gruner Veltliner and Albarino are the white varieties. Sarah is excited about creating a blend from the Bordeaux varietal grapes. By blending, Sarah believes that the best wines are created as opposed to the single varietal wines. More complexity is to be found in blends. For white wines there will be four individual whites and a white blend.

Black Ankle Vineyardsstraw insulationBlack Ankle Vineyards is a unique winery. You will find an intense interest in working with the land and using its resources. Using what the farm offers is always a first consideration for Sarah and Ed. The winery tasting building, in the process of being constructed (February 2008), will have an unusual insulation composition. Bales of straw harvested from the farm property will create thick walls of insulation. Straw is an excellent insulator and Black Ankle Vineyards is one of the few wineries in the country using straw for insulation. Some of the wood used for the structure of the tasting room is from trees on the property. Sarah mentioned a lovely unusual piece of maple wood with a lovely grain in it that will be used to create tables for the tasting room. Heating for the tasting room will come from a combination of passive solar from windows and a fireplace. The wood for the fireplace will come from the farm property.

Black Ankle Vineyards

A new winery building will be built adjacent to the tasting room. The present winery building will be used for storage.

Black Ankle winesBlack Ankle VineyardsWe tasted several Black Ankle wines from the barrels. Some will be bottled in April. The Cabernet Franc 2006 was delightful with fruit flavor. The Syrah 2006 had herb on the nose, a dark red fruit and pepper on the taste. The Syrah 2007 had fruit on the nose and taste with a slight pepper on the aftertaste taste. The 2007 Syrah showed how an extra year of vine maturity changes the wine. This wine had a good balance of fruit, acid and tannins. Merlot 2007 had a red fruit nose and flavor. The blend of white grapes was refreshing and light with a fruit nose.

We look forward to a summer return visit to Black Ankle Vineyards. The tasting room will offer a relaxing experience and the vineyards on the rolling hills will provide beautiful views. If you enjoy estate quality wines, Black Ankle is a winery you will want to visit.


Black Ankle Vineyards is an example of the gree movement. Read an article by Meghan Sullivan about the Black Ankle Green Tasting Room.

Black Ankle Vineyards
14463 Black Ankle Road
Mt. Airy, MD 21771
phone: 240-464-3280

GPS N 39° 40.429' W 076° 02.273

Related article on Examiner.com Baltimore Edition

Day Trip to Black Ankle Vineyards article

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