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Uncork the past at Mount Felix Estate Vineyard & Winery


Mount Felix Estate (photo: Julia Filz)

When we pulled up to Mount Felix Estate Vineyard & Winery, just outside of Havre de Grace, I remarked that it reminded me of Colonial Williamsburg. From the manor house that looked like it just stepped out of the colonial era (it actually dates from the 1830s) to the dairy barn next door, it was obvious that any history buff would be right at home there.

History buffs like Peter and Mary Iammiello.
Mount Felix Vineyard and Winery is located on the Mount Felix estate, home of the Meigs family. The adjacent estate, Sion Hill, is the home of the Rodgers family, the most decorated Naval family in the history of the United States. In tribute to this unique terroir, the Iammiellos have named each of their wines for these and other local heroes. We were lucky enough to be there on a quiet Saturday, and after visiting with the most adorable Boerboel puppies I’ve ever seen, Mary took us on one of the most original and delicious local history “tours” in which I have ever participated. I was enraptured by both the delicious wines and the lively stories behind them. And the best part? We didn’t have to stumble walk anywhere! 
The wine list and the stories are varied. My favorites included:
  • Mathilda’s Devotion: This light white is a great seafood wine and named for the fourteen year old daughter of John O’Neill. Papa O’Neill single-handedly defended the town of Havre de Grace by firing a cannon at the British fleet as they sailed up the Susquehanna. For his trouble, he was captured by the British and threatened with assassination. Mathilda, his fourteen year old daughter, rowed out to the boat on which her father was being held and pleaded for his life. Given an hour to retrieve the necessary paperwork, Mathilda rowed back to town, fetched the paperwork, and returned to the boat to retrieve her father. 
  • Vin Fiz: a slightly effervescent red, the Vin Fiz is named for the first plane to fly cross-country in 1911. CP Rodgers, the pilot, was a son of Sion Hill’s Rodgers family and a great-nephew of Admiral Perry on his mother’s side. A bout of scarlet fever as a child eliminated Annapolis as a career option, so he found his path another way, buying one of the first Wright Flyers available to civilians, taking 90 minutes of flying lessons from Orville Wright himself, and winning the $50,000 grand prize offered by William Randolph Hearst to the first person to fly between CA and NY in either direction in less than thirty days (though, admittedly, it took him closer to fifty). The part that really gave me chills was the fact that due to a sponsorship agreement with a grape soda company, Rodgers happened to decorate his plane with grapes and, when he would fly home to visit the family, he would land in the yard across the street…the same yard where the vineyard is planted today.
  • Cornelia’s Blush: this delightfully light rose would be great with a summer salad, chicken, or just a warm night on the porch with a great book. Like, for example, Invincible Louisa, the Newbury Award-winning biography of Louisa May Alcott written by Cornelia Meigs, the daughter of Mount Felix for whom the wine is named! 
  • C’est Le Havre: this is a fantastic semi-sweet white that would go wonderfully with Thai food, a sharp cheese, or seafood. Local legend holds that when the Marquis de Lafayette first saw the hamlet that would eventually be known as Havre de Grace, he exclaimed “C’est Le Havre!” because of its resemblance to his French hometown of Le Havre.
I'll definitely be back up to Mount Felix soon!  The tasting room is open Wed-Sun 11-5 and is an easy, 45 minute drive from Baltimore up I-95 (exit 89 towards Havre de Grace). Tastings are $5, and in addition to the stories, you get to keep the glass.
 

Sion Hill, home of the Rodgers Family (photo: Julia Filz)

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