Okay, it’s not really ours, but it’s kinda cool to have a winery nearby that shares your last name. There’s nothing like having personalized wineglasses and wine bottles in the cellar to make your guests wonder!
Romano Vineyard and Winery is in Brandywine, Maryland, in southern Prince George’s County. PG County, as the locals know it, is mostly urban and suburban; home to the likes of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Cente, NOAA’s National Center for Weather and Climate Prediction, the U.S. Census Bureau, and Joint Base Andrews; and, according to U.S. Census data, the most affluent county in the country with a primarily African-American population. But this area of PG County is decidedly rural…former tobacco farms now yield lots of corn, soybeans, and more importantly, vineyards. It’s a stone’s throw from historic St. Mary’s and Charles counties…even the infamous Dr. Mudd House, where Abraham Lincoln’s assassin John Wilkes Booth had his broken leg set, is nearby.
I’d like to say that Judy and I stumbled on this gem of a winery as one of our regular diversions, but this story is a bit different. When the winery opened in 2011, I lived just a few miles away with my previous wife and saw the “bootleg” signs announcing its opening and wine-tasting availability along the rural roads I regularly took to work. I vowed to visit and introduce myself to the proprietors.
That never happened. In 2012, I moved out, filed for divorce, and moved to much more urban Northern Virginia. When Judy and I got together, we discovered a shared passion for good wine and often enjoy visiting wineries as a regular weekend activity. Virginia’s wines have become world-class and there is no shortage of wineries to visit. Our neighbors even gave us a Virginia Wine Pass to enjoy regular discounts! But I still harbored the desire to visit the winery that shares my family name, so when a trip to Annapolis offered an opportunity for a Southern PG County diversion, we jumped at the chance.
We weren’t disappointed. Unlike many of the Virginia wineries, the Romano winery has a very casual, rural farm feel. Owners Jo-Ann and Joseph Romano were delightful. We quickly figured out we weren’t related, but then, we Romanos are like the “Smiths” of Italy…many in number, not related, but all happy to meet one another.
The wines were excellent, too, so naturally, we joined the Romano Wine Club. We received our membership materials a couple of weeks ago, including our card for two free glasses of wine each month.
Today, we found ourselves in the area once again, top-down on the Fiat spider enjoying the spring weather with temps in the low ‘60s – a nice break from recent freezes. Naturally, we stopped at “our” winery. Jo-Ann instantly recognized us. We sat outside, each enjoying a glass of merlot. We chatted with several ladies who were enjoying a similar fine day. With other errands to run, we didn’t stay long, but for a brief respite, Judy and I reveled in the joy of each other’s company, a fine glass of wine, and the peace and quiet that only a rural atmosphere can bring.
We have long held that part of the fun of traveling is getting off the beaten path to find hidden gems like Romano Vineyard and Winery. Stop in and say hello, even for a just few minutes.
There’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored. Go see it.