Wine Wednesday: Cabernet Franc from Old Westminster Winery in Maryland

This Wine Wednesday is dedicated to a wine I received as part of the #winestudio month-long discovery of the Maryland winery Old Westminster. The winery is part of the Carroll Wine Trail.

This is my first experience with a wine from Maryland and I must admit it has been quite thrilling. First let’s a word about the wine, then about the winery and the area and lastly about Wine Studio.

The wine, a 2017 Cabernet Franc that was unfiltered and unfined as it says on the back label which you can see below, was a truly inviting and enveloping version of this grape that I love so well. I found the wine to be earthy, slightly spicy and fruity at the same time, kind of sexy in fact without being overpowering and overdone. I tasted/drank it over a few days and it had real staying power which was unexpected. Everything about the winery was kind of unexpected to be but I guess that’s because I had preconceived notions, always an error.

Let’s look at the winery then. It sits at 800 feet above sea level on what channery loam soils overlaying a bedrock of greenstone schist. They have  10,000  vines on their own land, and work closely with local vineyards to source grapes for some of their other wines.

Apparently this Cabernet Franc fruit comes  from the Links Bridge Vineyard which sits on the  Monocacy River. They family is committed to a few important practices such as hand harvesting of the grapes and sustainable farming, crucial to their agriculturist Drew Baker. Baker both rotates where he does treatments in the vineyards as well as uses cover crops to draw insects and promote vine health. The winemaker is Lisa Hinton. They use gravity rather than pumps for the must and ferment with ambient yeast.

The Baker family that owns the vineyard planted their first grapes, 7,600 vines of Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Chardonnay and Albariño Easter weekend in 2011. In 2013, they bottled their first wines and had a release party. Today they make about 30,000 bottles. It’s a family affair with three siblings all working together – Drew, Lisa, and Ashli – under the watchful supportive gaze of their families and spouses.

The family owns 17 acres on their old homestead and decided to expand, buying another property called Burnt Hill. Here’s a post they wrote about it back in 2016 when they began working on it.

Maryland has a very information winery association which you can find here.  They have a plan for 2020 called Vision 2020 which is encompasses the following: “Maryland Wineries Association [MWA] strives to grow a sustainable wine community throughout Maryland, and to grow its impact on agriculture, tourism, preservation and economic development.”

Apparently there are almost 1000 acres of grapes growing in Maryland. From what I read there are 10 wine trails in Maryland, March is Maryland wine month, a couple of wine competitions worth following and this comprehensive book about Maryland wine by Rebecca McCarthy called Maryland Wine: A Full-Bodied History (American Palate)”

Last topic of this post is Wine Studio. Tina Morey has done amazing work at her site and with her wine education programs. I’ve been lucky enough to participate in some but not all. She has done lots of work with various regions but it’s the ones about American wineries and wine regions that always capture my interest the most. She has a dedicated following and adds so much to the table. I interviewed her for this blog within the last few years, here’s that piece.

I will be writing more about the other wines I received at another time and delve into the region’s soils which are fascinating. For now, kudos to Old Westminster and Wine Studio.

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