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Port of Leonardtown Winery
by
Kathy Sullivan

Port of Leonardtown WinerySummary: The Port of Leonardtown Winery offers a unique opportunity to taste wines produced with grapes from many small but enthusiastic vineyard owners and to see how a winery co-op operates. Located within the town of Leonardtown, the winery is easy to find and wine enthusiasts will enjoy the friendliness of the winery staff while tasting red and white wines plus a Late Harvest dessert wine.

The Port of Leonardtown Winery is unusual as it is one of the few co-op wineries in the United States. Currently the winery has 17 committed and enthusiastic members who have the opportunity to work together for a common goal of producing quality wines from their small vineyards. Also unique is the way the winery came about at the encouragement of The Town of Leonardtown and St. Mary's County Government. These two governnment entities helped the winery. The town of Leonardtown is a showcase example of how communities, wineries and vineyards can work together. According to Patrick Isles, winemaker, "The St. Mary's Commissioners and the county's economic development department were very instrumental in starting and securing funding for this winery project."

Port of Leonardtown WineryThe Port of Leonardtown Winery and tasting room is located in a one-story building once owned by the Highway Administration. The town wanted the space to be used. Port of Leonardtown supported the efforts of farmers growing small acres of grapes and encouraged them to band together to create the winery. According to Connie, a co-op partner and graphic artist, "the wine bottle labels reflect the winery and the local community." Connie who designed the labels noted that the "labels relate to the sense of place and the labels are fun and playful as is the wine." As an artist Connie believes that art brings out sensations and passions as does wine.

Today the winery is located in a room adjacent to the tasting room. In the tasting room visitors will discover a video of the winery providing views of vineyards and more. Walls have numerous pieces of local artwork from the Leonardtown Galleria. The art display changes so visitors will want to return repeatedly.

 

Port of Leonardtown WineryBecome a Wine Co-op Member

To be considered as a participant in the winery co-op, one must have 200 grapevines in the ground. Other requirements include providing up to three tons of grapes and volunteering for 40 hours per year. Most of the vineyards are dry farmed. While it is challenging to grow grapes in Southern Maryland, the most promising varietals from the region include Barbera, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Currently the focus of the Port of Leonardtown Winery is to discover the Southern Maryland terroir.

The winemaker, Pat Isles, works with all of the grape growers. In a month or so Pat plans to host a seminar for the vineyard owners. The meeting will focus on the farming techniques that grapevines need in order to produce the best wine. Pat likes to use French and American oak in the winery.

The first vintage was 2009. Currently, Port of Leonardtown produces 6,000 gallons (about 2,500 cases) and looks to the future anticipating a 10,000 to 12,000 gallons range.

Those who enjoy wine and do not have 200 grapevines may wish to become a Sponsor of the winery. Information about being a Sponsor is available on the Port of Leonardtown Winery website.

Port of Leonardtown Winery

White Wines

Several wines are available. The 1634 Chardonnay 2009 was a light straw color. The aroma and taste had notes of apple, pear and caramel. There are additional notes of caramel on the finish. This wine commemorates the founding year of St. Mary’s City in 1634. Chardonnay 2009 had notes of apple and citrus on the aroma and taste. The finish was bright and crisp. Suggested foods to pair this wine with included chicken, pork, and seafood. Vidal Blanc 2009 was a light straw color and crisp. The suggested pairing is with seafood. Breton Bay Breeze 2009 was a blend of five grape varietals including Niagara. Consider pairing with Indian and spicy dishes.

Dessert Wine

Autumn Frost, a 100 percent Vidal Blanc wine, offered apricot notes on the aroma and taste. The finish was crisp which cut the sweetness. The residual sugar was 12 percent.

Red Wines

Captain’s Table 2009, a blend of Chambourcin and Merlot, was light ruby. There were red fruit notes on the aroma and taste. The finish was dry and fruity. Breton Bay Shoals 2009 was ruby with notes of red fruit. The taste was smooth with red fruit nuances. The finish was semi-sweet and dried on the finish. Pair with entrees including barbeque pork, shrimp and beef.

Port of Leonardtown WineryEvents at Port of Leonardtown

Currently, Port of Leonardtown Winery participates in First Fridays along with other town businesses which stay open later and have special events. On First Fridays the winery offers live music from 6pm to 8:30pm.The tasting room manager has plans for events. Some of the future events will include meet the artist nights. Already art classes are scheduled to take place during April and May. Watch for more events planned by an enthusiastic tasting room manager.

Port of Leonardtown Winery
23190 Newtowne Neck Rd
Leonardtown, MD 20650

GPS: N38º 18.247’ W076º 39.445’

 


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