Red Heifer Winery: Furlough Special

Third in a series on Maryland vineyards and wineries.

A friend and Federal colleague who knows of my interest in visiting local Maryland wineries shared a Facebook post from the Red Heifer Winery, a new Maryland winery that is about to celebrate it’s first anniversary! The post read: “Furloughs stink and wine makes everything better so… any Government employee with a badge will receive either a free tasting or 10% off wine purchases this weekend at Red Heifer Winery!

Since I’m a furloughed Federal employee, that seemed like a lovely idea! Coincidentally, I didn’t have much going on today, the kids were happy to stay home in the afternoon after all morning running about, so my friend, husband, and I decided to head on out there.

On the way we passed several orchards, and stopped to buy some apples, a couple of pumpkins, and an acorn squash.

Once we arrived, we were warmly welcomed by the owners, a young and friendly couple. They cheerfully poured samples, and chatted about the winery. The story behind how Red Heifer Winery got its name goes back to the owner’s grandfather, who first purchased the land decades ago. The then owner and his grandfather were negotiating the price for the land, and couldn’t reach agreement. He looked up the hill and saw a red cow and said, “Throw in the red heifer, and you have a deal.”

Of the six wines we tasted, three stood out; Red Heifer White, a Vidal Blanc; Blueberry, which would make a nice sangria for the holidays; and Sweet Heifer (because I really enjoy sweet wines after dinner). My friend chose the Vidal Blanc and the Red Heifer Red, a French oak aged Cabernet Franc.

As Red Heifer’s website suggested, we decided to “make a day of it,” and rather than go check out another winery, instead we went to the nearby PenMar Park, with its outstanding view, to have a picnic. We always pack a picnic basket with cheese, rustic bread, grapes, nuts, and sometimes chocolate, and today was no different! Before we left the winery, Yvonne, one of the owners, helpfully uncorked the Vidal Blanc, so we had something to enjoy with the snacks.

Notably, the Appalachian Trail goes right through the park, and we saw a tired hiker resting in the shade, with his backpack and dog napping at his feet. Afterward, we headed up to High Rocks (turn right out of the park and head up the road, you can’t miss it) in hopes of catching a hang glider jumping off the rocks. No luck there, but the views were spectacular!

Thank you Red Heifer Winery for your “Furlough Freebie”!

Tip #1: There are other Furlough Freebies at other wineries — your best bet to find them is to look on their Facebook pages.

Tip #2: If you avoid purchasing wine and pack your own picnic, this is a budget-friendly day trip!

Getting there: Definitely GPS it, but be alert to the fact that the entrance is some 200 yards before the GPS indication. Then, you drive up a long driveway alongside of an old farmhouse, and continue beyond on up the side of the hill. GPS address is 24606 Raven Rock Road, Smithsburg, MD 21783.

Hours: Wednesday, Thursday & Friday – 1:00pm-7:00pm (by appointment during Jan, Feb. & Mar.); Saturday & Sunday – 11:00am-7:00pm. Vineyard tours are given upon request.

Dogs: There’s a dog on the property. Enjoy that one, and leave your pooch at home!

Eats: Bring your own picnic. Certainly, bring your own crackers or nibbles to go with the wine!