PRINCE FREDERICK, Md. - August 24, 2006 - Picturesque vineyards, luscious white, red and berry wines, elegant decor, an adjacent art gallery displaying local talent and a knowledgeable vintner - in Napa Valley, Calif.? No, Fridays Creek Winery is in the heart of Calvert County, Md., in Owings.
Fridays Creek Winery opened quietly this month, though preparations and construction on the property began more than a year ago and a grand opening is scheduled for September 16. "We've only been open a few weeks so far," said vintner Richard Cleary, "but customers keep streaming in. They seem to find us tucked away here on Chaneyville Road and are enthusiastic about what we've done."
The property is eye-catching and dominated by the signature red barns that have been restored and repurposed to house a tasting room, storage and aging rooms, production facilities and a small gift shop. "The walls of the tasting room are paneled with walnut planks that were hewn from trees on the property," says Cleary. "My father, Frank, Sr., is a builder and has always been passionate about renovating old places. This particular renovation has been a labor of love for him. He wanted to create a place where customers would feel like guests and relax while enjoying another passion of his - turning grapes into wine."
Fridays Creek expects to bottle 7,000 gallons of wine this production year and, by 2010, they will be at full capacity bottling 12,000 gallons per year, with 4,000 gallons coming from their own vineyards. The majority of their grapes are grown locally on a 10-acre plot in Owings near Fridays Creek, for which the brand is named. With Chardonnay, Seyval Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Concord, the vineyard has an impressive variety of grapes, which also includes blueberry and blackberry.
In addition to the winery, the property boasts an art gallery above the tasting room and features local artists who sell pottery, paintings, glass sculptures and textiles. The gallery's proprietor, Maureen Curtis, is a watercolorist and sister of Frank Cleary, Sr. She is excited by the potential the two businesses have in supporting each other. "Wine and art just naturally go together," says Curtis. "I would love to see Fridays Creek Winery and Gallery become a tourist destination where people can spend a peaceful afternoon, learn about Southern Maryland wines, browse our gallery and stroll through our small vineyard."
The upstairs area also houses a growing collection of farm equipment, agricultural implements and memorabilia from Southern Maryland's tobacco-growing days. The Clearys believe the display will be especially popular for historians and curious young people who want to learn more about Calvert County's agrarian roots.
The September 16 grand opening promises to be a day filled with family activities, tours and special wine tastings. All events are free and open to the public and take place from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Fridays Creek Winery is located on Chaneyville Road, two miles from Route 4 in Owings.
For more information on Fridays Creek Winery, call Denise or Frank at 301.855.4330 or 410.286.WINE, visit them online at http://www.FridaysCreek.com/.