Maryland

5 Reasons to Go on a Tour with Vino 301 Wine Concierge

Wine. Snacks. Laughs. A designated driver. What more could you ask for during a wine tour? Well, that's exactly what we got and more during the Heritage Trail Wine Tour with Vino 301 Wine Concierge. I actually had no expectations (because I've learned not to set myself up for disappointment) so I went into this experience with an open mind and spirit. And I'm so glad I did.

Shortly after booking the wine tour, I confirmed with Vino 301 which location I'd like to meet. A few days before the tour, our tour guide, Christina, emailed and confirmed the location and time. We were told to meet at the Safeway in Bowie Town Center where we would be promptly picked up at 10:45 am. Once there (and on time, by the way), we were greeted by our lovely hosts Leslie and Christina. They introduced themselves and gave us an overview of what to expect throughout the day. We drove about 20 minutes to meet the remainder of the group at Showplace Arena in Upper Marlboro, and off we went to our first stop: Thanksgiving Farm

I had never heard of Thanksgiving Farm but during the tour, I learned much about the history of their property and winery. Stepping into this winery almost felt like we were walking into our grandmother's house for a wine tour...which was a good thing! It is a charming, family-owned winery that specializes in European-style wines. Their signature wine? The Franc Blanc, which is a light white wine with hints of apple, pear and citrus. I also enjoyed their 2011 Meritage. Co-owner Maureen Heimbuch walked us through their wine making process and honestly, I was impressed with her knowledge base and matter-of-fact storytelling. I liked Thanksgiving Farm for its intimacy and hands-on approach with their guests.

Our next stop was Running Hare Vineyard, which was about 30 minutes from Thanksgiving Farm and is a much larger operation. Their property is huge, with both wine and beer tasting bars, picnic tables, an area for music and dancing, and a food truck in the parking lot. This wasn't as intimate as Thanksgiving Farm; however, if you're looking for a lively atmosphere with music, food, and friends, Running Hare is your place. Two of our group members said they frequented Running Hare and even enjoyed their beer offerings just as much as their wine. While we had both wine and beer tastings, Leslie and Christina also gave us time to roam the property and stray from the group a little. While we enjoyed our group members, it was nice being able to steal a few private moments just between my friend and me.

After about an hour or so at Running Hare, Leslie and Christina corralled the group back on to the bus because sadly, it was the end of our tour. My friend and I couldn't stop raving about what a great day it was and how we have to recommend the tour to everyone we know! So based on my day with Vino 301, here are 5 reasons you should absolutely go on a wine tour with them:

1. You can drink until your heart's content.

I mean, isn't this the most important reason? Not only can you sample as many beers and wines as your little heart desires, but you don't have to drink and drive. Vino 301 has taken care of this problem for you. Depending on the size of your party, they'll pick you right up at your front door. Celebrating a bachelorette or birthday? They'll pick up the entire party from someone's house, a hotel or anywhere you want them to. And even if you don't have a large party, you are still chauffeured (in style, I might add) to two or three wineries (depending on your itinerary) after you're picked up from a meeting point. You have to drive home from the meeting point, but by this time you should be sobered up.

2. You will visit Maryland wineries you may not be familiar with.

I've never heard of Thanksgiving Farm, but I'm glad I had the opportunity to experience a local, family-owned small business right in my own (figurative) backyard. Vino 301 has relationships with most wineries in the state, so they can customize an itinerary based on your group's preferences, or you can let them do the heavy lifting and choose your itinerary for you.

3. You'll learn so much about wine.

I've been on wine tours in some of the best wine regions around the world. Cape Town, Finger Lakes, and Santa Barbara to be exact. And I still managed to learn more about wine thanks to my wine tour with Vino 301. If you know me, you know I love learning new things, so this was a plus for me.

4. You can meet like-minded people and make new friends.

Let's face it. If you're on a wine tour with strangers, you probably have things in common (barring they voted for Donald Trump, but I digress). I had a great time getting to know my wine tour-mates and fellow bloggers. We connected via social media so hopefully we can hang out again in the future!

Photo Credit: Off the Potomac

Photo Credit: Off the Potomac

5. It was a great time!

Everyone can go to a wine festival, or tour a winery on their own, but when's the last time you didn't have to lift a finger to have a good time? Everything is literally taken care for you with Vino 301. Transportation, snacks, wine, and food (if you spring extra for it!). It really doesn't get any better.

I'd highly suggest a wine tour with Vino 301 Wine Concierge, and I'm not just saying that because they sponsored this post. I plan to take another in the near future so maybe I'll see you there. Check out all of their offerings at vino301.com and be sure to tell them we sent you! 

P.S. You can be Bad & Boozy too: shop.willdrinkfortravel.com.

Check out more pictures from our day with Vino 301 below!

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Hotel Review: Cambridge House Bed and Breakfast

Well, the Cambridge House Bed and Breakfast (112 High Street, Cambridge, Maryland 21613) isn’t a hotel, but I did stay there while exploring Dorchester County, Maryland.  In all of my travels, surprisingly, I’ve never stayed at a bed and breakfast.  So I was excited this would be my first time, yet I was unsure about exactly what to expect.

This was also my mother’s first time staying at a bed and breakfast, so she was a little hesitant when she learned we’d be staying at the Cambridge House.  Nevertheless, we decided it’d be a new experience for us both and found solace in the fact that we’d only be staying for one night if it turned out to be less than stellar. Luckily, our fears were completely unfounded. We enjoyed our stay and I’m happy to report that my first bed and breakfast experience was a great one.

PROS

Location

Cambridge House is perfectly situated near downtown Cambridge.  You can leave your car parked and walk a short distance to plenty of restaurants and shops. They have a small gravel parking lot in the back if you don’t want to park on the street, but there’s plenty of street parking available.  It’s also quite close to the waterfront, so you’re able to take a morning stroll and visit the Choptank River Lighthouse.

Clean

Since I didn’t have the greatest experience with my first Airbnb stay, I was most worried about the room’s and bathroom’s cleanliness.  We stayed on the first floor in the Governor’s Room.  The room was perfectly clean and tidy, and the bathroom was spick and span.  Whew!  It’s also worth noting that the Cambridge House has their own line of soaps and shampoos if you’ve left yours at home.

Our room even had a door leading to an outside patio, where there was a table for two to enjoy passersby.

Great Breakfast

Breakfast was served between 8:30 – 9:30 a.m.  I was expecting a buffet, but to my pleasant surprise, all guests were served individually by the innkeepers at the dining room tables.  They offered water, coffee, and various types of teas and juices.  We started breakfast with sliced apples topped with a homemade cranberry compote.  Then we were served homemade blueberry pancakes with a side of crispy bacon.  It was so good that I ate everything on my plate…which is also why I don’t have any pictures.  I ate too fast!  Oops.

Since we were among the first guests to arrive at breakfast, we sat at the larger dining room table with a couple visiting from Pennsylvania.  The other two guest couples came down a little later and while they sat at the two adjacent tables, the whole dining room evolved into one big conversation.  I enjoyed talking to and learning more about the other guests and what brought them to Cambridge.  This is an experience you don’t typically get at a hotel and actually turned out to be my favorite part about staying at the Cambridge House.

Friendly Innkeepers

The owners and innkeepers, Jim and Marianne Benson, were very accommodating and friendly.  They immediately welcomed us with open arms and gave us tips on what to see and do while visiting Cambridge.  I learned that they were world travelers in their past life before deciding to operate the Cambridge House.  Jim and Marianne also have an active and friendly dog, Max, who made it feel like a real home.

CONS

Noisy Neighbors

The only con is that you may have noisy upstairs neighbors if you stay on the bottom floor.  It wasn’t really bothersome to me because I’m not a light sleeper, but my mother was slightly perturbed by our upstairs neighbors pacing the floor at 3 a.m.  But that’s no fault of the B&B and I imagine it doesn’t happen very often.

Other Things to Know:

  • There’s a hot tub on the porch to enjoy during warmer months.
  • There’s free wi-fi.
  • They have DVDs, CDs, games and books if you need to entertain yourself.
  • There is cable television in each room, which is always a plus in my book.
  • There was a guest refrigerator that we were able to put our leftovers in, which really came in handy.

OVERALL RATING: 5 out of 5 cocktails

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at the Cambridge House Bed and Breakfast and highly recommend booking a stay if you’re visiting Cambridge.  My mother also enjoyed her stay and said it opened her eyes to hotel alternatives.  I think staying at the Cambridge House will positively contribute to your overall experience in the quaint and friendly town.  Tell them we sent you!

While this trip was hosted by Dorchester County Tourism, all opinions are my own.