A student of Constant Frank in the mid-70s, Fred Wilson worked the harvest season for many years in upstate New York. Taking on Lousie Morton and DR. Frank as consultants, Fred Wilson, Carol Wilson and Neill Bassford established Elk Run Vineyards in 1979. Two years after looking for a suitable vineyard location around the rural regions surrounding Washington, D.C., our Frederick County location was chosen. It was selected for soil composition, orientation of the land for sun exposure, altitude, and its proximity to both Baltimore and D.C. The fact that it sat on a historic property was a bonus.
Elk Run became a bonded winery in 1983 and is managed by Fred Wilson (viticulturist, enologist and general manager), Carol Wilson (marketing) and Neill Bassford (assistant winemaker and vineyard manager).
In 1980, the Wilsons decided to pioneer the first all-vinifera vineyard in Maryland. Grapes planted for whites include: Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Pinot Gris. Grapes planted for reds include: Merlot, Petit Verdot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.
The name “Elk Run” was chosen for a stream with the same name. The property sits on Liberty Road near Libertytown, named for the Sons of Liberty who met there prior to the revolution, and the house was a Colonial-era tavern. Elk Run has two vineyards: Liberty Tavern and Cold Friday. The original vineyard,Liberty Tavern, is located on the same part of the property as the historic house . In 1995, Elk Run planted vines on the land across the road, which had been original to this farm. The deed of that property is registered as “The Resurvey of Cold Friday” and was a land grant from the King of England to Lord Baltimore in the early 1700s. They called the new vineyard Cold Friday to honor this legacy. The total acreage is now roughly 25 acres in vine.
Years of vigilant journal keeping and attention to continued research throughout the east on new methodologies in grape growing has provided good data to help understand the nuances of this growing region. Recent research has convinced Elk Run to more densely plant their vineyards. This permits a lower crop load per vine, which has shown to produce better quality and color in the wine.
Winemaker Fred Wilson has consistently received high awards from regional, national, and international wine competitions, and his wines have earned the respect and praise of wine critics worldwide.
“While my goal is to continue to increase production each year, I will not yield quality to quantity. My philosophy remains the same today as it did when I first dreamed of starting the winery — to produce high quality world class wines for the best possible price.”
–Fred Wilson, Winemaker
Elk Run’s wines are distributed by Reliable-Churchill in Maryland and by Washington Wholesale in Washington D.C. As interest for Elk Run wines grows in neighboring states, Elk Run will be expanding its distribution beyond Maryland borders.