Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard Review
Address: 18125 Comus Rd Dickerson,Maryland 20842.
Phone Number: 301-605-0130
Tasting Hours: 12:00-6:00 and by appt.
Reviewer: Jim Finley
Review Date: 7/12/2014
Reviewer: Jim Finley
For wine lovers with pets and/or children, Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyards is a wonderful, weekend wine tasting destination. The outside tastings with numerous picnic tables and games makes it easy to grab a bottle and spend a couple hours at the vineyard.
Based on the crowds at the vineyard at 1:30 on a Saturday afternoon, it’s obvious that Sugarloaf Mountain is a popular wine destination. Summer wine tasting at Sugarloaf Mountain is similar to showing up at a friend’s house for an afternoon party. You don’t actually go into the house/barn/tasting room (until after your tasting). Instead, you proceed through the gate into the “back yard” that contains, picnic tables, bean bag toss games, a tasting tent, and, of course, vineyards. It looks like a typical neighborhood party, too. Newborns and toddlers, dogs, athletic-gear-attired twentiesomethings, and happy, smiling people abound. During my tasting, one of the servers was asked by a charming four-year-old to refill her puppy’s water bowl, which the server did with a smile. After conducting a tasting, visitors can proceed down the steps to the front of the winery and into the indoor tasting room to purchase a bottle or two to enjoy at the winery or at home. There are also additional seating areas in front of the winery, and on the day I visited, live music. During the week and when the weather isn’t conducive for outdoor wine drinking, tasting are held in the indoor tasting room.
The 92-acre farm at the base of Sugarloaf Mountain was purchased by Dan and Polly O’Donoghue in 1962. Dan and Polly’s four children inheriting the farm and begin transforming it into a vineyard in 2002. The winery was completed in 2005, and Sugarloaf Mountain debuted its first release in 2006. Varieties grown in the vineyard include Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec.
On the day of my visit, Sugarloaf Mountain was pouring two whites and four reds, and two off-dry wines. The whites were a Viognier and a wine called “Penelope” produced from California grapes. The reds were a Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Franc Reserve, and two Bordeaux blends: Comus and EVOE! Without doubt, Sugarloaf Mountain’s strength lies in its Bordeaux blends. The 2012 Comus ($26) is an elegant beauty with red fruit and a spicy, medium-length finish. Those who spend more time in the California aisle than in the Bordeaux aisle may not be overly impressed, but it does an exceptional job of showcasing Maryland fruit. The highlight of the tasting was the 2011 EVOE! ($39) Cherry and chocolate aromas lead to more cherry on the palate with a touch of tobacco and a beautifully long finish. Fuller bodied and more oak influenced than the Comus, the EVOE! is exceptional and a testament to the improving quality of wine being produced by Maryland wineries.
Sugarloaf Mountain is a great place to taste some of Maryland’s best wines, especially red Bordeaux blends. Plan your visit based on the type of tasting experience you prefer. You can either taste in the well-appointed tasting room within the barn or hang out on the lawn or patio with family and friends. Either way, Sugarloaf Mountain is well worth a visit.