March is Maryland Wine Month. It’s also Women’s History Month. I declared I would be writing about women winemakers everyday of March and also that I would be tasting wines from all 50 States, two per month. This month will be wines from New York and Maryland, last month I tasted wines from North Carolina and Michigan for the first time. The wine in the above picture is from a winery called Old Westminister. It sits at 800 feet above sea level on channery loam soils overlaying a bedrock of greenstone schist. They use 50% of vines on their own land, and work closely with local vineyards to source the other 50% of the grapes they need. Their agriculturist Drew 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 his sister, Lisa Hinton. She started at the tender age of 23 to make their wines. One of the few women winemakers in Maryland, according to this article from Vino301, she’s experimenting with many different styles of wines. 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.
Maryland has a very information winery association which you can find here. Apparently there are almost 1000 acres of grapes growing in Maryland. From what I read there are 10 wine trails in Maryland and there is a comprehensive book about Maryland wine by Rebecca McCarthy called “Maryland Wine: A Full-Bodied History (American Palate)”
This vin doux naturel was sweet but not over the top with its amber hue, sweet mature fruit aromas and a touch of cedar on the palate.
I also tried wine from Linganore Wine Cellars. While I haven’t opened the White Raven made with Cayuga and Chardonnay yet, I did try the Saperavi. Saperavi is a red grape that is comes from Georgia, the country. This is a teinturier grape, meaning a deep colored grape with red flesh. It has anthocyanin pigments that gather within the pulp of the grape berry itself. It is very acidic and is moderately productive. I was intrigued that they wanted to use this very particular grape variety. It’s a family run winery in New Market, Maryland. Jack and Lucille Aellen founded it in 1971. Their first 6 acres were planted in 1972 and they were off. The winery began on Lucille’s family’s dairy farm. Their first son Anthony joined the family business in the 1980s. During those years they were also experimenting with many grapes. The family was instrumental in the creation of Maryland’s first AVA or American Viticultural Area, Linganore Viticultural Area. Eric, the second son of the family joined in the mid 1990s to management the vineyards. The winery is very active in wine power. Since 2011 they use 100% wind power to supply the winery.
They make a huge range of wines and renovated a tasting room. They feel that the Saperavi grows well in the soils of Maryland. I found this dark ruby red wine filled with berry fruit aromas and oak notes on the nose and the same fruit, spice and cedar on the palate. I paired that with a grilled steak.