Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A Holistic Farm Winery in Montgomery County Maryland: Rocklands Farm

On June 27, 1863 Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart and 5,000 cavalrymen began crossing the Potomac River at Rowser's Ford in Seneca, Montgomery County Maryland. His immediate destination was Rockville and wagon trains to capture with a long term destination into Pennsylvania - launching the Gettysburg Campaign. But in Seneca his troops burned boats, damaged the locks on the C&O canal, and helped themselves to the produce and meat from the rich farmland that is now the Agricultural Reserve of Montgomery County.

One of these farms was most likely the predecessor of Rocklands Farm - a farm winery practicing "holistic" agriculture. The farm raises chickens, hogs, cattle, sheep, and goats as well as growing numerous types of vegetables and fruit - which includes 8 acres of vines.  These vineyards consist of diverse grape varieties such as Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Chambourcin, Norton, and Concord for reds and Chardonnay, Chardonel, Gruner Veltliner, and Semillon for whites. The winemaker is TJ Fleming - a middle school science teacher who helped start the winery while also studying Enology and Viticulture through UC Davis.

On our visit on a late Saturday afternoon the winery was crowded with visitors walking the farm, lounging about, or participating in a wedding. However the tasting bar was wide open to sample their eight wines available that day. In general these wines were well made and represented the varietals they encapsulated. And the gentlemen pouring the wines was extremely informed regarding the grape varieties. For the whites the semi-dry Honey Blossom Vidal Blanc ($19) was spot on floral, citrusy and acidic. The dry White Oak Chardonnay Blend ($24) was very interesting, shades of slightly oaked Chardonnay but also hints of 16% Chardonel, 8% Vidal Blanc, and 4% Grüner Veltliner. I brought a bottle to a family function that evening and it quickly disappeared. The five reds ranged from a light bodied, but spicy Farmhouse Chambourcin Blend ($23) and a unique off-dry Medley Sparkling Chambourcin ($23) to a much darker and stronger Montevideo Petit Verdot Blend ($35). And the tasting concludes with a clean dessert wine in the Bramble ($25) which consists of Blackberries, Chambourcin, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Rocklands Farm is a destination winery in the sense that there is no reason to leave - spend the day walking the farm, enjoying the brick oven pizza and wine. And as always, theCompass Winery, Brewery, Distillery Locator Mobile App will show you the way. Cheers.

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