A student of Constant Frank, in the mid 70’s Fred Wilson worked the harvest season for many years in upperstate 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., the 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. A bonus was the fact that it sat on a historic property.
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).
Fred spent several harvest seasons learning the business with Dr. Konstantine Frank in the Finger Lakes of New York. In 1980 the Wilsons decided to pioneer the first all-vinifera vineyard in Maryland. Grapes planted for whites include: Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Pino Gris. Reds include: Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.
The name “Elk Run” was chosen for a stream with that name. Elk Run has two vineyards. The original vineyard on the winery site is the Liberty Tavern Vineyard. 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 once a tavern. In 1995 Elk Run planted the land across the road that had been original to this farm. The deed of our property on both sides of Liberty Road is registered as “The Resurvey of Cold Friday.” Cold Friday was a land grant from the King of England to Lord Baltimore in the early 1700s. We call the new vineyard Cold Friday to honor this legacy. The total acreage is now roughly 24 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 quanity. My philosophy remains the same today as it did when I first dreamt 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.