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By: Lynne O’Meara, Southern Maryland Restaurants
Brandywine, MD – If you head north out of Southern Maryland, just across the Charles County line, into Prince Georges County you will find four vineyard/wineries…yes…four!!
All four are in Brandywine: Robin Hill Farm and Vineyards, Gemeny Winery and Vineyards, Janemark Winery & Vineyard, and Romano Vineyard & Winery.
Because I love my readers, and because I love wine…I am going to visit all four of these vineyard/wineries over the next few months. They all offer local, handcrafted, delicious wines, special events, and beautiful scenery!
This week I went to Robin Hill Farm and Vineyards. Located on Croom Road, the farm is in a lovely setting! This farm has a history filled with family, tradition, and legacy. The farm was purchased by Russell and Shirley Watson (just before they were wed) in 1955. They had four children (Russell Jr., Connie, Robert, and Susan. It was a true family farm and they all helped out. The farm went through several transitions over the years…from tobacco to hogs to trees & shrubs and to pumpkins. After Russell passed away in 2005 (he and Shirley had been married for 50 years) life slowed down at the farm. In 2010, the farm “retired” from the public eye.
Russell’s family wasn’t ready to let go of the farm. They started researching vineyards and wine-making. They found the same soil used for tobacco growing was also good for grapes. In spring 2014, Robin Hill Farm resurrected the family legacy and became Robin Hill Farm and Vineyards. Even more exciting, the farm winery opened on October 7, 2017.
The operation is now run by Russell and Shirley’s daughter Susan Watson White, her husband Bob White (also the winemaker), Susan’s daughter Shelby Watson-Hampton (Marketing Director), and Shelby’s husband Wade B. Hampton II (Vineyard Manager).
Here is a sweet story I heard when I was there…Bob White came from New York as a wine-making consultant. He came, he consulted, he and Susan fell in love, and he stayed!
The winery is in a renovated tobacco barn originally built on the farm in 1957. Built to hang, dry and store tobacco, it now houses the wine production area, cellar, and tasting room. The tasting room is beautiful, rustic, comfortable, inviting and enjoyable. There are tables (with tractor-seat stools), and several comfortable chairs in front of a fireplace. There is a large tasting bar across the rear of the room.
The building has a wraparound porch with tables and stools, chairs, and rocking chairs. The grounds are so pretty, I can’t wait to go back in a few months and sit outside, where they have chairs and picnic tables scattered around the property. And they have goats!! Yay…pet goats!
I’m going to throw in a few statistics here…approximately 1,000 cases of wine are produced annually. The wines are fermented, aged and bottled on the farm. They have 13 different wines. Last year between 35-40 tons of grapes was used. There are six different varieties of vines, with over 3,000 plants on four acres. 90% of the grapes are from their vines, the other 10% are from other farms in Maryland. Wow!
They recently started producing fruit wines. I love fruit wines…and these are fabulous!! The Peach Wine is made with peaches from Swan Farm in Calvert County. The Strawberry Wine is made with strawberries from Miller & Schlagle Farms in PG and Charles Counties. The Blueberry Wine is made from blueberries from Swan Farm. I love their philosophy of agriculture, environment, and Maryland!
They offer two dry white wines, a sweet white, a sweet rose, several dry reds, and a sweet red. Our pourer and guide (Karyn) was wonderful! She helped us navigate through the different wines. In fact, all the staff was warm, friendly and knowledgeable, which is the charm of Robin Hill Farm and Vineyards. I’m a sweet wine kind of girl, and I loved all three fruit wines, the sweet white (Bliss) and the sweet red (Home Sweet Home). They also have a Hot Mulled Wine, perfect for this winter weather (I’m still holding out for snow this winter).
Since 2012, Robin Hill Farm and Vineyards has rented out an amazing event space. It’s a perfect place for a country wedding, family reunion or company picnic. The space is available from April through November. I need to think of an occasion to host an event with friends at “The Stables”.
Make sure you check the Robin Hill Farm and Vineyards event schedule on their Facebook page and their website…they have fun, entertaining and delicious events!! Some events coming up are:
- 1/31 – The Winery Tour
- 2/15 – Wine and Pizza Valentines
- 2/21 – Elvis Night
- 2/22 – Mardi Gras Celebration
- 3/01 – Cellar Sessions
- 3/14 – St. Patrick’s Day Event
They also have several Comedy Tour nights over the next few months. I’m going in March…can’t wait!
Robin Hill Farm and Vineyards are opened year-round. The Tasting Room is open every Saturday from 12pm – 6 pm and Sunday 12 pm – 5 pm. They have snacks for purchase and often have a food truck just outside.
Speaking of food trucks, I went to the farm on Saturday when “No Sauce Que” barbecue was serving up deliciousness. Q and his wife, Devin, have been smoking great food since August. On Saturday they had wings, ribs and a brisket sandwich, with coleslaw, BBQ beans, and mac & cheese sides. I had ribs and they were very flavorful and meaty. The beans and the coleslaw were perfect additions. I finished with a delicious chocolate chip cookie made by Devin’s friend from “Cookies, Cakes, Confections LLC”. I’m sure we will be seeing this food truck around often. They are wonderful people working hard to prepare great food!
Robin Hill Farm and Vineyards is located at 15800 Croom Road, Brandywine.