Uncorking Maryland's wines

Publishing: With the arrival of "Discovering Maryland Wineries," Kevin M. Atticks seeks to create awareness of the state's vineyards.

April 28, 1999|By Jenn Williams | Jenn Williams,contributing writer

As he adjusts his wire-rimmed glasses, 24-year-old Kevin M. Atticks, a journalism teacher at Loyola College, says it is a rare Maryland wine that he would not recommend.

"There is no bad wine. It's just made for different tastes," says Atticks, sitting recently in his tidy office on the Baltimore campus. "Maryland wine is all very high quality, but you are not going to like everything you try."

He should know. Atticks is becoming a connoisseur of local wines, having written and self-published his first book this year, "Discovering Maryland Wineries" (resonant publishing, $9.95).

In the book, he takes prospective and veteran wine tasters on a tour of 10 Maryland wineries, describing each location, offering historical tidbits and providing directions with maps. He also includes recipes -- such as Kevin's Portobello Mushroom Chowder and Muphen's Basil-Parmesan Popovers -- to show the family flavor of the business.

Atticks said he wrote the book to create awareness of the state's vineyards. His intention was not to judge the wines.

"What good is rating with people who know nothing about wine," explains the soft-spoken Silver Spring native who graduated from Loyola College in 1997. "This book is for the average Joe."

The book is available at Greetings & Readings near Towson and some area Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Borders Books & Music stores. It also can be ordered on the Internet at www.amazon.com.

Al Copp, president of the Association of Maryland Wineries, calls the book a welcome resource on many levels.

"It captures the friendliness of the industry and is a great primer for weekend outings to wineries," says Copp, co-owner of Woodhall Vineyards and Wine Cellars in Parkton. "I think it will begin to identify for casual wine drinkers the fact that there is a Maryland wine industry."

Copp said Maryland produces about 70,000 gallons or 350,000 to 400,000 bottles of wine a year.

For those new to wine, Atticks recommends a trip to Linganore Winecellars at Berrywine Plantation in Mount Airy. It offers at least 30 wines, he says, so visitors can "try the whole rainbow of what Maryland has to offer."

Anthony Aellen, a Linganore winemaker and son of the wineries' owners Jack and Lucille Aellen, says Atticks' guide helps people learn about the state's wines.

"The book has a nice, concise summary about each winery, and it's unique how he incorporates food into the book. I actually think we haven't seen a book like it," Aellen said. "It's written for everyday, average wine drinkers, not wine snobs."

Andrew Ciofalo, a writing professor at Loyola who taught Atticks, also finds the 102-page book handy and informative.

"I only knew of three or four wineries," Ciofalo says. "These wineries are not well-known to people in Maryland even."

Atticks, dressed in a green polo shirt, slacks and sandals with socks while discussing his book, says he still is adjusting to being a published writer.

"Three or four weeks ago, I had a book signing in Annapolis and I felt strange being treated like an author," he says. "I never thought I would publish a book."

He dedicated the volume to his grandmother, June Atticks, who lives with his parents, Ralph and Terry Atticks, in Bowie.

"Anyone who's 91 and still truckin' deserves credit," he says. "She has always had an influence in my life and had positive things to say."

Atticks, who recently immersed himself in the culture and wine of South Africa during a trip, got his first taste of wine when he was a student at Loyola. His roommate Nick Thomarios, who drew illustrations for "Discovering Maryland Wineries," took him to Wells Discount Liquors in the 6300 block of York Road on the Baltimore City-County line.

"He told me I at least needed to learn about wine," says Atticks, remembering the visit. "We went crazy."

Since then, Atticks, whose appreciation of wine continues to flow freely, spent time learning about the wines of Colorado while he was working on his master's degree in environmental journalism at the University of Colorado. He also visited California wineries to sample their products.

In May, Atticks, who lives in Baltimore and has his own wine collection of about 100 bottles, started compiling the wine book.

"It exposes a side of Maryland's agriculture that can only be described as the perfect combination of skill and art," he writes in the introduction of his book. "And all along, it was right here in our backyards."

Kevin's Portobello Mushroom Chowder

Serves 2 to 3

1 quart of soy milk

4 tablespoons flour

3 tablespoons virgin-olive oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon nutmeg

2 medium yellow onions, diced

1 clove of garlic

2 large portobello mushrooms

salt and pepper to taste

In a medium pot, heat the soy milk until hot but not boiling. Add flour and stir to thicken. Add olive oil and then soy sauce and nutmeg to your liking while stirring.

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