There’s something oh so special about an evening in a quiet anchorage, relaxing in the cockpit with a glass of wine, no? Well, if you subscribe to this particular brand of relaxation, you might already be aware that here on the Chesapeake, vineyards and wineries are springing up like wildflowers. In the past ten years or so, 12 wineries have popped up within spitting distance of the Bay’s tributaries along Maryland’s Eastern Shore, plus another seven along the shores of the Patuxent and Potomac rivers. In Virginia, which has long been known for its wines produced in the central part of the state, 10 wineries are scattered about the Northern Neck and three more dot its Eastern Shore. As you might imagine, given the acreage needed for growing grapes, often these vineyards are off the beaten path. But that puts many of the Bay’s wineries up beautiful, quiet tributaries, far from regular cruising paths. Some have their own docks, while others are either a short walk or bike ride away from marinas. Either way, with a little planning, you can create a cruise to please most any vinophile, and even bring a bottle or two back to the cockpit for later.
In the following pages, we’ve listed the wineries around the Bay that we think will be easiest to get to by boat. A few are accessible by big boat, while others might require a dinghy or kayak. And others will require a walk, bike ride or, well, asking someone at a marina to give you a ride. With so many out there, we couldn’t list all of the varietals made or awards won by each winery (and there are many). But you can find all you need to know about each establishment and other, not-so-water accessible vineyards in the area by visiting www.marylandwine.com or www.virginiawine.org. Both sites list all of the wineries in each state, broken up by region and specific winery “trails,” which give you a great idea for a full day tour of wineries near you. There you will also find gobs of wine festivals around the region, as well as more details on each winery’s award-winning specialties and descriptions of varietals made.
So cast off your lines and set sail for the vineyards; The wines are ripe for the drinkin’.
Bordeleau Vineyards & Winery
Eden, Md. 410-677-3334
Bordeleau Vineyards & Winery lies just off the Eastern Shore’s Wicomico River, along Wicomico Creek. Wikander’s Yacht Yard (410-749-9521; www.wikanderyachtyard-brokerage.com) is within walking distance, and the winery has a small dock, but call ahead before you tie up. The tasting room is open Wed.–Sat. noon– 6 p.m.; Sun. 12:30–6 p.m. and by appointment.
Cove Point Winery
Lusby, Md. 410-326-0949
Cove Point is about six miles north of Solomons, Md., so not accessible by water. They are open for tastings Sat. and Sun. noon–5:30 p.m.
Great Shoals Winery
Princess Anne, Md. 410-849-9616
Great Shoals Winery lies just a few miles up the Eastern Shore’s Wicomico River from its namesake, Great Shoals light. The winery is accessible from Webster’s Cove Marina (410-651-1930), which is about a quarter-mile walk away, or, at low tide, boaters can dinghy to the winery’s beach. Just call ahead to make an appointment.
Mark Cascia Vineyards
Stevensville, Md. 410-604-2127
Mark Cascia Vineyards occupies 12 acres of vineyards on the Kent Island peninsula between Cox and Thompson creeks. It is open weekends from noon to 4 p.m. or by appointment. There aren’t any marinas on the creek, but the vineyard has a long pier with 9-feet on approach, and about 5 feet at the dock. It is located on Cox Creek, just beyond green “5”.
Mount Felix Vineyard and Winery
Havre de Grace, Md. 410-939-0913
Mount Felix is located off the Susquehanna River, about a mile north of downtown Havre de Grace. It is open for tastings Wed.–Sat. 11 a.m.–5 p.m., Sunday noon–5 p.m., or by appointment.
Port of Leonardtown Winery
Leonardtown, Md. 301-690-2192
The Town of Leonardtown, St. Mary’s County and the Southern Maryland Wine Growers Cooperative own the Port of Leonardtown Winery jointly, giving local grape growers the opportunity to produce southern Maryland wine. It is located on the outskirts of Leonardtown, off Breton Bay. The closest dockage is at the Leonardtown Wharf, which is free, although there are no facilities. From there you could either bike or hitch a ride with Hillside Ride (301-475-0065; www.hillsideride.net), an electric vehicle company. Or you can rent a kayak (or bring your own) at the town wharf and paddle the two miles up to the winery through the beautiful marsh and FIDS (Forest Interior Dwelling Species) habitat and bird sanctuary. The winery is open for tastings Wed.–Sun. noon to 6 p.m.
Running Hare Vineyard
Prince Frederick, Md. 410-414-8486
Running Hare Vineyard is located about two miles east of the Patuxent River. The closest marina is DeSoto’s Landing (301-870-8145), which is across the Route 231 bridge in Benedict, Md. The winery is open for tastings Wed.–Sun. noon–6 p.m.
Ridge, Md. 301-872-5175
Both of Slack Winery’s tasting rooms nestle right up to the water. The first is at Woodlawn Farm, a restored 1798 Manor house and seven-room B&B that lies along tiny Calvert Creek off the Potomac River. The winery has a dock, but getting into Calvert Creek is tricky and has only 3 to 4 feet at its entrance. However, the folks at the winery will be happy to arrange transportation from nearby Point Lookout Marina (301-872-5000; www.pointlookoutmarina.com). The Woodlawn Farm tasting room is open Fri.–Sun. noon–6 p.m. Slack’s second tasting room is located at their Jubilee Farm property (301-872-5175). It’s located just up the Potomac on Blake Creek, has a dock and is open by appointment.
Solomons Island Winery
Lusby, Md. 410-394-1933
Solomons Island Winery is located along tiny Hungerford Creek, about a mile north of the marinas in Solomons, certainly within walking or biking distance. The winery’s tasting room is open Tues.–Sun. 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
St. Michaels Winery
St. Michaels, Md. 410-745-0808
St. Michaels Winery is the largest on the Eastern Shore, boasting 20 varietals, including several produced from all-Maryland-grown grapes from their vineyards in nearby Wye Oak and their second location in Henderson, Md. The winery, located just a few blocks off St. Michaels’ main drag on S. Talbot St., is open daily, year-round for tastings, no reservations required. While not on the water, the winery is within walking distance of all of the marinas in St. Michaels.
Athena Vineyards & Winery
Heathsville, Va. 804-580-4944 www.athenavineyards.com
Athena Vineyards is about five miles up the Great Wicomico River, on the south side of the Glebe Point Bridge (Virginia Route 200). Its vineyard is on the water, but to get to the tasting room, you’ll have to trek about a half mile inland down Route 200. You can either stay at Tiffany Yachts (804-453-3464; www.tiffanyyachtsinc.com), which is just across the river at the other end of the bridge, or anchor out and land a dinghy at the county fishing pier at the base of the bridge. Athena’s tasting room is open Wed.–Sun. noon–6 p.m.
Machipongo, Va. 757-678-5588
The best way to reach Chatham Vineyards, which is located on Church Creek just off Nassawadox Creek on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, is by kayak. Church Creek only holds about two feet at its entrance. However, if you have a dinghy or kayak, the winery does have a small dock for you; just call ahead. Or, participate in a kayak tasting tour; one is available through Southeast Expeditions in Cape Charles or Onancock (www.southeastexpeditions.net). The winery is open for tastings Thurs.–Mon. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sun. noon–5 p.m.
The Dog and Oyster
Irvington, Va. 804-438-WINE
The Dog and Oyster is located at the headwaters of the eastern branch of Carter Creek in Irvington. The vineyard has a kayak dock (and only kayak-level depths), as well as guest cottages on site. But your best bet to visit by water would be to stay at the nearby Tides Inn (804-438-5000; www.tidesinn.com) or Rappahannock Yachts (804-438-5353; www.rappyachts.com) and make your way by bike or foot to the vineyards and would presumably get you to the winery. The wine stand at the Dog and Oyster’s tasting room is open Thurs.–Mon. 11 a.m.–6 p.m. and by appointment.
Good Luck Cellars
Kilmarnock, Va. 804-435-1416
Good Luck Cellars is about three miles north of Kilmarnock, Va., and about four miles from the nearest marina, Chesapeake Boat Basin (804-436-1234; www.chesapeakeboatbasin.com
), which is near the head of Dividing Creek off Fleets Bay. It is open for tastings Thurs.–Sun. from 11 a.m.–6 p.m. and Sun. noon–5 p.m.
General’s Ridge Vineyard
Hague, Va. 703-313-9742
General’s Ridge is about five miles from Kinsale. It is open Thurs. noon–5 p.m.; Fri. noon–6 p.m.; Sat. noon–6 p.m. and Sun. noon–5 p.m. The closest marinas are Port Kinsale Marina (804-472-2044; www.portkinsale.com) and Kinsale Harbour Marina (804-472-2514).
The Hague Winery
Hague, Va. 804-472-5283
Located on an old plantation about five miles west of Kinsale and south of Coles Point, the Hague Winery is open daily 11 a.m.–5 p.m. The closest marinas are Port Kinsale Marina (804-472-2044; www.portkinsale.com) and Kinsale Harbour Marina (804-472-2514) on the Yeocomico River and Coles Point Plantation (804-472-3955; www.colespoint.com) on the Potomac.
Holly Grove Winery
Franktown, Va. 757-442-2844
Holly Grove Winery is located on Holly Grove Cove off of the shoaling, shallow and winding Nassawadox Creek on the Eastern Shore. Holly Grove is open daily noon to 5 p.m. But do call ahead. While there are no facilities on Nassawadox Creek, the winery does rent kayaks on site, and tour groups are available through Southeast Expeditions in Cape Charles or Onancock (www.southeastexpeditions.net).
Oak Grove, Va. 804-224-8687
Ingleside Vineyards is four miles south of Colonial Beach. The closest marina is Stepp’s Harbor View Marina (804-224-9265; www.steppsharborview.com). Ingleside is open for tastings Mon–Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sun. noon–5 p.m.
Jacey Vineyards & Restaurant
Wicomico Church, Va. 804-580-4053
Jacey Vineyards is located on Mill Creek, off Ingram Bay, just below Reedville, Va. There are seven docks at the property, with depths sufficient for most boats. If you draw over five or six feet, you could also anchor and dinghy to the docks. And if you give a call before you dock, the folks at the vineyard will come down to get you to take you the rest of the way up to the tasting room and restaurant. Jacey’s restaurant, which pairs its wines with lots of local seafood and produce, is open for lunch Thurs.–Sun., dinner Fri.–Sat. and Sun. brunch. The tasting room is open Sun.–Thurs. 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Oak Crest Vineyard & Winery
King George, Va. 540-663-2813
Oak Crest is located near Upper Machodoc Creek. The nearest marina is Dahlgren Marine Center (540-663-2741; www.machodoccreek.com), about two miles away. Oak Crest is open Wed.–Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
Vault Fields Vineyards
Kinsale, Va. 804-472-4430
Vault Fields is about two miles southwest of Kinsale, Va. The closest marinas are Kinsale Harbour Marina (804-472-2514) and Port Kinsale Marina (804-472-2044; www.portkinsale.com). It is open for tastings Thurs.–Sat. 11 a.m.–5 p.m. (6 p.m. in summertime) and Sun. noon–5 p.m., or by appointment.