If you have any interest in exploring Maryland wine, or have been scarred by previous experiences and need a reset, this winery is for you. Maryland may not have as many producers as Virginia, but the state's wineries really shouldn't be overlooked. The Vineyards at Dodon, located in Davidsonville, Maryland, is a 40-minute drive from D.C. and just 20 minutes from Annapolis.
It isn’t run on an “open-house” basis, with business hours on certain days when anyone may visit. Instead, they offer tastings and tours by appointment, Thursdays- Sundays, with two options: an "Introductory Tour & Tasting (~75 minutes for $25) or a "Collectors Tour & Tasting" (~90 minutes for $50 per person).
The winery is set in Anne Arundel county, in an area with soft, rolling hills. The winery and vineyards are family owned, run by the husband-and-wife team (both doctors) Polly Pittman and Tom Croghan. Croghan is the winemaker, but both Pittman and Croghan are hands on in their operations. The Pittman family has owned the land since the 1720’s and was producing tobacco up until the 1960s. As it turns out, tobacco cultivation prepared the soil in the area for grape vines.
The facility is all solar powered and features a lovely tasting room with views of the vines, and a modern winemaking facility in the basement.
As part of the tour, you get to learn about the soil conditions in the area, taste a few grapes from the vines (seasonally) and see the winemaking facilities. You'll see their philosophy that “wine is not just a beverage” in action, and get a sense for how seriously they take it. The entire experience is substantive and truly provides a real understanding of the wine and the winery.
The introductory tour includes a seated tasting of three different wines, all from grapes grown exclusively on their property. When I visited, we tasted a Sauvignon Blanc, a Chardonnay, and a Merlot blend. All of the wines are exceptional quality and ideal for pairing with food. It was nice that the tasting included crackers and cheese as well. The Sauvignon Blanc was an easy summer drink, while the red blend was more complex. Dodon produces other wines as well, including a rosé.
This is not a winery for a casual visit, or to head in with a group to hang out and drink endless bottles of wine. However, it is a must visit for anyone that is serious about exploring Maryland wine, supporting a family-owned business and tasting first-rate wines. Make a day trip of it by starting at Dodon, and then driving the 20 minutes over to Annapolis for dinner. Visit their website to make an appointment ahead of time.
Club membership (required to purchase six bottles in the spring and six in the fall) gets you access to events at the winery and discounts on wine purchases.
If you'd like to try Dodn's wines in D.C. befoe heading to Davidsonville, you can find their wine o n the menu at Tail Up Goat, Ris and A Rake’s Progress.