Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fall Tour: Frederick (Md.) Cellars

Virtually every winery in central and eastern Pennsylvania is parked somewhere in the woods, many off thoroughfares that twist through the countryside en route to the front door. An exception would be Frederick Cellars, in Maryland, which according to its Web site is located in historic downtown Frederick, among the shops and restaurants of Shab Row and Everedy Square.
Because of its location, co-owner Charlie Daneri said the other day by phone that the best news they received this year was approval to have entertainment on site, including music, following long-running negotiations with the city of Frederick. “For a long time we were not allowed to,” Daneri said, “and we recently, as in mid-summer, got the right back. So what that means, finally now we’re able to have entertainment again, so we now are scheduling a lot more music, musical groups, for the evenings. So that’s been our biggest news. We did it when we first opened, we did it for about four or five months, and was very successful and people liked it.
"You know, because we’re a city winery, we can’t do outdoor events. We don’t do, like a lot of wineries do, where you have summer music festivals and that kind of thing. We just can’t do it. We’re right in the city. We have our property, which is basically our building and a parking lot, and that’s it. So we have to depend on other types of entertainment, and they’re typically smaller scale. For us, if we bring 40 or 50 people in for a musical event, that’s a big event. As opposed to, ‘Yo, I just brought 2500 people in for a summer jazz festival.’ We can’t, and don’t do that. So our focus is totally different. Our focus is on small, focused events.”

Daneri and wife Emily Williams followed that script this summer by creating Wine’d Up Downtown, essentially a Monday through Friday happy hour that ran from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. “Basically, all we were doing was trying to encourage folks to come in in the late afternoon in sort of a typical happy hour-type style. We offered half-price on glasses of wine. It’s still going, although I’m not sure it will continue in the winter. We have some nice outdoor seating, which of course now we have closed down. We introduced it more last summer, but we’ll just have to see in the winter how that continues.”

Frederick Cellars produces 11 wines, which run the spectrum from red to white and dry to sweet. They also advertise sales of an aged Cabernet Sauvignon, from 1999 through 2001. At the opposite end of that is a Nouveau that they plan to introduce in the next week and a half. Daneri said it’s a limited release, 25 to 30 cases, a
Chambourcin/ Chelois blend that he calls “nice and light-bodied, just a tad sweet. We had a Beaujolais party and tasted it, and everyone loved it. Now I just got to get it in the bottle. That will be like a holiday wine for us.”

A grower in Montgomery County, Md., provides those grapes. Daneri said in the past they would just blend them with something else, but made the decision to bypass the blend and “see how it stands up by itself. It actually turned out pretty nice. People seemed really happy with it.”

It’s one, Daneri summarized, that’s made in a nouveau style -- absent any oak – and designed to have sooner rather than later.

“The comment we’ve been making is, not only can you drink it young, you need to drink it young,” he said. “This is not a wine that you’re going to put in your cellar and let age. You’re going to take it home and drink it on the holidays.”

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