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The Vineyards at Dodon
by
Kathy Sullivan

The Vineyards at DodonSummary: The Vineyards at Dodon in Anne Arundel County, Maryland is close to Annapolis, the capital of Maryland. Wine enthusiasts planning to visit the tasting room at The Vineyards at Dodon should make an appointment. The winery tasting room is open only to those with appointments. Serious wine enthusiasts may want to consider joining the Dodon wine club.

Outside of Annapolis, Maryland we discovered The Vineyards at Dodon in the countryside of the busy metropolitan Annapolis and Washington, DC area. After traveling over a long driveway near the Dodon vineyards, the driveway wrapped around the Dodon tasting room and winery. Inside we met co-owner Tom Croghan. Tom and his wife Polly Pittman, co-owner, are the driving force behind the vineyards and winery. Prior to starting the winery Polly and Tom were involved in the medical field. Today, they like to reminisce about the family Christmas dinner when the winery and vineyards idea was born.

The Vineyards at DodonVisitors to the Vineyards at Dodon will discover a dual-purpose, barn-sided building is the location of the tasting room and winery. The tasting room offers a large viewing window of the winery. Tasting room lighting is enhanced by the large wall of windows facing vineyards and the unique chandelier lights formed from oak barrel staves and barrel hoops. The atmosphere is comfortable and provides the opportunity to enjoy tasting Dodon wines while enjoying the vineyard views.

The Vineyards at DodonThe winery with 15 acres of vineyards offers a unique winery business model with an emphasis on the Dodon wine club. The winery is located on an eighth generation farm and is focused on appointment based visitors. Tom (pictured right) said, “We want people to know that this is a place where people can enjoy themselves.”

The name Dodon has deep roots. In Greek mythology Dodon was the son of Zeus and Europa. The name appeared in the records of Anne Arundel County as early as 1658. King Charles II presented the property to Dr. Francis Stockett for being loyal to the king. Stockett spent some time in exile. He may have known the name "Dodon" while in France where people knew of Saint Dodon from the eighth century.

It was Polly’s ancestors who purchased the property in 1725. The majority of the time the farm has been used to grow tobacco. Eventually this usage stripped the soil of important nutrients vital to plant growth. During the 1960s the owners turned to traditional farming. Another aspect of the property has been horses. Since 1743 there have been horses on the rolling hills of the farm. Now the farm of 550 acres with 400 acres of woodland is 100% solar powered.

In 2006 Polly and Tom built their home on the farm. They grew crops and raised farm animals. One year, after a Christmas dinner Tom suggested they could plant a vineyard and make a homemade wine. They quickly transitioned from home winemaking to a business model.

Vineyards

The Vineyards at DodonWe visited the vineyards on a sunny, cool February day. Workers were tending the vines. This time of year affords a chance to view vineyard architecture. Today the vineyard of 15 acres include several grape varieties. Grapevine varieties are Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The vines are planted in soil known as “Dodon Series.” Tom described the soil as gravel then sandy loam with shell fragments. Deep beneath the soil is compacted oyster shells. Back in the tasting room Tom showed us rocks from the vineyards, one of which had fossilized seashells. Tom noted that the weather here is superb for wine growing especially in September. Visitors to the vineyards will note that the grass between every other row is mowed.

Dodon Wines

The key to the Dodon wines is, “The wines honor the place they live.” Currently the winery produces 3,500 cases of wine. They want to produce wines that people would serve at special family occasions.

The Vineyards at DodonTom said they do not skimp on getting help. Currently they work with Lucy Morton, a winery and vineyard consultant. Tom and Polly have learned that their vineyard has the oldest soils of any wine region in the world.

We began our tasting with a rosé as Tom spoke about the history of the land, vineyard and winery. The Rosé 2014 with 13.4% alcohol was a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. This orange colored wine offered an aroma of berry fruits. The taste had strawberry with a touch of raspberries. The finish was crisp with berry fruit notes yielding to mineral.

The Vineyards at DodonAfter a tour of the vineyards and winery, we returned to the tasting room to taste three wines. The wines were accompanied with a small plate of food to pair with the wines. Chardonnay 2013 was 100% barrel fermented and aged. This light yellow colored wine was 12.3% alcohol. The aroma was of apple, pear, caramel and lemon. The taste was very smooth with notes of apple and pear. The finish was crisp and fruity with fruit yielding to caramel.

The Vineyards at DodonSouth Slope 2013 had 13.7% alcohol. It was a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. The wine was a translucent ruby color. The aroma was of black raspberries and black cherries. The taste offered notes of black raspberries, blackberries and black cherries. The wine was medium-bodied and had medium tannins. The finish was crisp and fruity.

Sauvignon Blanc 2014 was 12.6% alcohol. This light yellow color wine was aged sur lei. The wine had tropical fruit notes and the taste had melon, pineapple and lemon grass reminding one of a fruit salad. The finish was crisp and very fruity yielding to mineral.

We enjoyed our visit with Tom who took the time to answer our questions as well as giving us a tour of the vineyards. Plan to call ahead for an appointment to visit The Vineyards at Dodon.

The Vineyards at Dodon
391 Dodon Road
Davidsonville, MD 21035

GPS: N38º 54.181’ W76º 37.236’

 

 

Article written February 2016

 



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