Maryland’s oldest wine event returns to the Carroll County Farm Museum with more than 200 wine choices, music and food — not to mention a return to its traditional September calendar position and two-day length — although a familiar face will be missing.

After being pushed by inclement weather into mid-October for a one-day event, this year’s 36th annual Maryland Wine Festival is set for this weekend, Sept. 21-22, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 11-5 on Sunday.

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As always, the festival will include new vintages of wine from all over Maryland and will feature several new vendors and sponsors. Returning are the Maryland Cheese Pavilion, an array of food trucks, live music, juried crafts. a blind tasting and more than 20 wineries, including Dragonfly Vineyard and Winery, Elk Run Vineyard and Winery, Linganore Winecellars and Loew Vineyards, all from Mount Airy.

“We try to offer a variety of cuisines, something that fits everybody’s taste,” Farm Museum Manager Joanne Weant, said. “As far as bands, we try to offer bands that play a variety of music.”

The bands are pretty well-known around the region, with Foreplay taking the stage at 11 a.m. on Saturday and Half Serious at 2:30 p.m. On Sunday, Park Avenue goes on at 11 a.m. followed by The Reagan Years at 2 p.m.

The Farm Museum partners with the Maryland Wine Association for the festival. So while several local wineries will be on hand, all corners of the state will be represented.

“We’ve got wineries from Southern Maryland, we’ve got wineries coming from as far as Deep Creek, we’ve got wineries coming from way over the Bay Bridge,” said Kevin Atticks, executive director of the Maryland Wine Association. “That’s where it’s exciting and not only do you have wineries from all over that it would take forever to get to and try them otherwise but also every year is a new vintage. So, this year’s wines are completely different from last year’s wines even the wines from the same winery.”

According to Atticks, the festival gives attendees an opportunity to compare the taste of wines grown on the Eastern Shore to those from western Maryland.

Tickets can be purchased in advance online at marylandwine.org. There are multiple ways to experience the festival depending on the kind of pass that is purchased.

Commemorative 16 oz tasting glass with sampling-Sample 40+ additional exclusive wines

The explorer pass ($60) entitles attendees to sample more than 40 additional (more unique) wines, a commemorative 16-ounce tasting glass, access to the Hilltop Hangout with shaded seating, bottled water and private restrooms along with the opportunity to participate in the blind tasting competition. The general admission pass ($30 Saturday, $25 Sunday) includes a commemorative wine festival glass. There are reduced prices for designated drivers and those aged 13-20. Children 12-under may attend free with a paying adult.

The new food vendors include Breaking the Borders Food Truck, J.D.'s House of Bacon and the Food Chick. Added craft vendors are Relics Architectural Salvage, the Chef’s Duds and I Love Me Some Legging. There are also some new sponsors in Priority 1 Automotive, First Class Mechanical and Maggie’s Restaurant.

One element that will be missing from this year’s festival, however, is Mark Duvall.

Mark Duvall, known as Mr. Wine Festival, died in August. He had worked for the Carroll County Farm Museum for some two decades. "It's really quite a loss," Farm Museum Manager Joanne Weant said.
Mark Duvall, known as Mr. Wine Festival, died in August. He had worked for the Carroll County Farm Museum for some two decades. "It's really quite a loss," Farm Museum Manager Joanne Weant said. (Courtesy Photo)

Duvall knew the Farm Museum better than anyone, according to his wife, Linda. He died on Aug. 4, having spent some two decades working for the county, including 19 years at the Farm Museum. His work with the Wine Festival was well known.

“When I came five years ago, he sort of was Mr. Wine Festival,” Weant said. “He, along with Jimmy Wetzel, who retired from here two years ago, were sort of the institutions at the county and especially here at the museum.

"Mark knew the Wine Festival like the back of his hand — the set-up and everything. He had all the funny stories of things that happened over the years; he was someone that we really depended on. So, it’s really quite a loss for all of us.”

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The Maryland Wine Association also felt the wave of sadness following Duvall’s death.

“Our whole industry was devastated to hear the news of Mark’s passing,” said Atticks. “He was the face of the Wine Festival and he was intimately and intricately involved in every aspect of the grounds, the maintenance, helping our wineries unload and get their tents up.”

According to Linda, her husband enjoyed fishing, crabbing, and making personalized fire pokers for people, and there is now a void that extends far beyond the Farm Museum and Wine Festival. “We went everywhere together,” she said.

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