Harvest 2017: A Day In The Life

Harvest 2017: A Day In The Life

Perhaps this will give all our friends a new and higher level of appreciation for what goes into a bottle of wine! Yes, contained in that bottle is many hours, days, weeks, and months of living the art of winemaking 24/7 & 365. Planning, planting, nurturing, harvesting, testing, tasting, tweaking, etc and on and on it goes! Hope this video gives you a little window into the daily world of winemaking! 

Wine for Dinner – Season 3

Wine for Dinner – Season 3

Welcome To Season 3!

Season 3 of “Wine for Dinner” will feature our good friend Marc Payne from Monument Fine Wines! Each Tuesday in October at 7:00 PM, we’ll lead a LIVE & interactive wine tasting with viewers on Facebook & Instagram.

As the temperature starts to cool and we head into the fall season, we decided to do a Pinot Noir + Chardonnay experience. This series will showcase the diversity of these two varieties & California. We’re highlighting Napa, Sonoma Coast, Russian River Valley, Santa Maria, and Santa Barbara. A regional theme is a great way to explore Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – specifically how soil and climate creates different styles of wine.

Here’s a list of the featured wines and themes. Purchase the wines in advance to taste with us! Also, we’ve listed a handful of wine shops that are well stocked with the wines on this list.

Week 1, Central Coast Chardonnay: Tuesday, October 10 @ 7:00 PM

  1. 2015 Carmel Road, "Unoaked" Chardonnay, Monterey. Stainless steel fermentation, crisp clean representation of chardonnay a great starting point to ascend up the ladder of oak in this series. Retail Price $15.99-18.99

  2. 2015 Nielson by Byron, Chardonnay, Santa Barbara. Burgundy styled chardonnay from an historic producer, first commercial winery planted in SB in 1964. Retail Price $12.99-16.99

  3. 2014 Cambria, Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley. Great showcase of terrior and older vines in SMV. Retail price $16.99-19.99

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Week 2, North Coast Chardonnay: Tuesday, October 17 @ 7:00 PM

  1. 2014 Freemark Abbey, Chardonnay, Napa Valley. Classic producer, was in the 1976 tasting in Paris, non-maloctic. Retail Price $25.99-28.99

  2. 2015 La Crema, Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast. Crisp sonoma style, concentrated AVA from a great producer known for Chardonnay. Retail price $16.99-20.99

  3. 2015 Hartford Court, Chardonnay, Russian River Valley. Fuller bodied chard style, getting into a more specified AVA from the La Crema sonoma from a producer that focuses on Single Vineyard production. Retail Price $29.99-35.99

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Week 3, Central Coast Pinot Noir: Tuesday, October 24 @ 7:00 PM

  1. 2014 La Crema, Pinot Noir, Monterey. Fruit forward style that retains great acidity and balance, great starting point for Pinot Noir. Retail price $15.99-18.99

  2. 2013 Cambria, Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley. A single vineyard site next to Bien Nacido further inland. Great starting point to create the conversation of micro-climates. Retail Price $20.99-23.99

  3. 2013 Siduri, Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills. Similar to Hartford Court with a producer that focuses on SV production. This is a blend of key SV's in the region. A great contrast to SMV. Retail Price $29.99-33.99

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Week 4, North Coast Pinot Noir: Tuesday, October 31 @ 7:00 PM

  1. 2015 Copain, "Tous Ensemble", Pinot Noir, Mendocino County. Part of IPOB, lean style of Pinot Noir focusing on Mendocino and Anderson Valley sourcing. Retail Price $23.99-29.99

  2. 2014 Hartford Court, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. Pulling from different micro climates within the Russian River Valley, this is a great example for the region. Retail Price $36.99-42.99

  3. 2014 La Crema, Pinot Noir, Carneros. Fun conversation about how Carneros is split between Napa and Sonoma AVA's, and how the cooling effects of the Bay influence the region. Retail Price $34.99-37.99

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Participating Wine Shops:

MARYLAND

  1. Bay Ridge W&S

  2. Pine Orchard

  3. The Wine Source

  4. Ye Old Wine Shop

  5. The Wine Merchant

  6. Hunt Valley W&S (Wegman's)

  7. Cranbrook Liquors

  8. Cranberry Liquors

  9. College Square Liquors

WASHINGTON, DC

  1. Bassin's

  2. Wagshal's NW 

  3. Calvert Woodley

  4. Rodman's

  5. Batch 13

  6. Whole Foods

Go buy these wines & taste with us!
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Over the next four weeks, we'll explore each of these wines together. 
Tune in – and weigh in – on “Wine for Dinner” every Tuesday at 7:00 PM LIVE on Facebook & Instagram!

Old Westminster Winery Harvest 2017 Update

Old Westminster Winery Harvest 2017 Update

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Harvest is a remarkable time of the year. It’s the reward for all our hard work in the vineyard.

But the work isn’t over.

We harvest our grapes and shepherd them through a metamorphosis from raw fruit into bottles of wine that we can confidently deem worthy of our labels.

2017 has been a wild ride so far. I’ll save my final thoughts for a later post, but here are the cliffs notes to date:

The season began with an unseasonably warm March. I recall pruning Chardonnay in mid-March and the vines were bleeding sap with every cut. This is worrisome because the de-acclimated vines are at heightened risk of damage should we experience a cold snap. Fortunately, the weather mellowed out in April and bud-break was right about on average: April 14th in the Chardonnay block.

Then we had a patchy frost event on the morning of May 9th that moderately reduced our crop in Muscat. The Muscat block is always at the greatest risk because it buds out early. Add to this that it’s situated on our lowest site and cold air drains downhill. Fortunately, damage was minimal overall and we were off to the races with what is turning out to be a record crop.

Because things were wet early in the season, we were particularly diligent with our canopy management. Sun and wind are nature's antibiotics.

August, too, was cooler and wetter than usual. On September 2nd (my birthday), I recall being fairly pessimistic about the vintage. The only wish I made on my 30th birthday was for some dry weather for the vineyard! And so far, so good!

September has been exceptionally good to us. The vines are clean and healthy and the grapes are vibrant and flavorful. High-pressure systems shielded us from Irma and Jose and we’ve been warm and dry in the last days of summer.

At this point, the white grapes are in the winery and the table is set for reds to finish ripening in the field.

The Whites

The whites are perfect. Harvest began with a bang on September 10th. Chardonnay, Albarino, Pinot Gris, Viognier all came in heavier than typical. To be exact, 42 tons of white grapes from nine Maryland vineyards! The theme of this season's crop is high yields, high natural acidity, low pH’s and moderate sugar levels. This equates to a bounty of bright, fresh whites to be bottled next spring. The fermentations are ticking away wildly and the aromas are vibrant, acidity is high and alcohol is low… Like I said, perfect!

The Reds

We continue to be diligent with our chores in the vineyard as we monitor the physiological ripeness of our red grapes to determine the optimal time to pick. Sure, we track sugars and acidity – but we do much more than that – we visually inspect the vineyard, we kick the vine's trunk and see if berries drop to the ground, we taste the fruit, chew the seeds, note the texture of the pulp and toughness of the skins; we assess the flavor development and aroma and pontificate about the wine to come.

Merlot, Malbec, and Syrah will be picked any day now. I suspect Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Sauvignon are 2-3 weeks out. Overall, we're projecting 40+ tons of red grapes from ten Maryland vineyards.

2017 has the early makings of an astonishing year at Old Westminster.

The process of making great wine is simple: grow ripe, flavorful grapes and shepherd them carefully through fermentation, aging, and bottling. That's it.

But as simple as it is, it's certainly not easy. At the end of the day, we're farmers. We battle weather, fungi, insects, and wildlife. We are tireless because we know a great bottle of wine reflects its maker's hard work and creativity.

We look forward to sharing the results with you in due time.

See y’all soon.

What Is Orange Wine?

What Is Orange Wine?

Ha ha nope, it's not made from oranges. Wine in the classic sense is usually classified in the typical terms of red, white, or rosé. But there is another gradation between red and white. Orange. On the palate, it's big and dry with tannin like a red. But there's more to it so allow Ashli to explain in this short video! She explains how orange wine is produced (a little something for you wine nerds), what it pairs well with (for you foodies), and why you should totally check out our latest release: Alius. 

Texas Strong, Florida Strong

Texas Strong, Florida Strong

We started this campaign just after Harvey, but now we'll have to include Florida as well.  

Our hearts go out to all those who are suddenly faced with the epic task of rebuilding their homes, businesses, and neighborhoods. We want you to know that we have your backs with as many bucks as we can raise. Please consider helping us reach our goal of $10,000 to support those affected by hurricanes Harvey and Irma. All donations will go to The Red Cross.

Wine for Dinner – Season 2

Wine for Dinner – Season 2

Wine For Dinner, Season 2

Old Westminster Winery announces Season 2 of our hit show, “Wine for Dinner” featuring our good friend and sommelier, Andrew Stover! Each Tuesday in September at 7:00 PM, the sibling trio + Andrew Stover will lead an interactive wine tasting with viewers on Facebook & Instagram LIVE.

All featured wines and themes are listed below, giving you the opportunity to go out purchase the wines in advance. Also, we’ve listed a hand full of wine shops that are stocked with ALL of the wines on this list. Go to these shops and say you’re looking for “Wines for Dinner” and they’ll look at you funny and then point you in the right direction :). Those who acquire the featured wines can taste along with us and weigh in. It’s a great opportunity to grow in your appreciation and knowledge of wine. This is mid-week wine tasting for the 21st century!

Week #1, Northeast: Tuesday, September 5 @ 7:00 PM

  1. Galen Glen Grüner Veltliner, Pennsylvania ($19)

  2. Veritas Cab Franc/Merlot Rosé, Virginia ($18)

  3. Bedell 'First Crush' Merlot/Cab Franc, Long Island ($16)

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Week #2, Midwest: Tuesday, September 12 @ 7:00 PM

  1. Stone Hill Blanc de Blancs Vidal, Missouri ($20)

  2. Chateau Grand Traverse Whole Cluster Riesling, Michigan ($17)

  3. Stone Hill Estate Norton, Missouri ($23)

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Week #3, Southwest: Tuesday, September 19 @ 7:00 PM

  1. McPherson Cellars Chenin Blanc, Texas ($17)

  2. Merkin Vineyards 'Chupacabra' Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre, Arizona ($26)

  3. McPherson Cellars 'Windblown' Carignan/Cinsault/Mourvedre, Texas ($17)

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Week #4, Off The Wall: Tuesday, September 26 @ 7:00 PM

  1. Court Garden Classic Cuvee Brut, England ($42)

  2. Turasan 'Selda' Kalecik Karasi/Syrah/Okuzgozu/Bogakere, Turkey ($12)

  3. Bulgarian Heritage Mavrud, Thracian Valley, Bulgaria ($14)

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Participating Wine Shops:

  1. Cranberry Liquors, Westminster MD

  2. Glen's Garden Market, Washington DC

  3. Pinky & Pepe's Grape Escape, Gaithersburg MD

  4. Unwined, Alexandria VA

  5. Wagshal’s Deli Mass Ave, Washington DC

Go buy these wines & taste with us!

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Over the next four weeks, we'll explore each of these wines together with our viewers.

Tune in – and weigh in – on “Wine For Dinner” every Tuesday at 7:00 PM LIVE on Facebook & Instagram!

3 Things To Anticipate This Fall

3 Things To Anticipate This Fall

We hope you’re enjoying summer thus far! As harvest quickly approaches we’re excited to share a few things you can expect from us this year!

My sisters and I set out to put Maryland wine on the map. So everything we do focuses on making the best wines we can and challenging the status quo. Our hope is to shine a national spotlight on the cool things taking place here.

In that spirit, here are three delicious and experimental projects you can look forward to this fall…

1. Pét-Nats

If you’ve been following us over the past couple of years, you know we’re ALL IN on pét-nat. Not only because it’s delicious and refreshing, but also because it’s natural and transparent. 

Pét-nat is an all-but-forgotten style of sparkling wine that made its debut in France’s Loire Valley half a millennia ago. Unlike its showy cousin, the Champagne method, which is precise and calculated, pét-nat is wild and spontaneous. That’s why we love it.

Punch Magazine’s Jon Bonné describes pét-nat as a “tectonic shift away from raised-pinky pretensions to a casual, freestyle era, one that borrows a page or two from the craft beer world.” In another place, Bonné writes, “The gang at Old Westminster, in Maryland, is having almost too much fun with their range of pét-nats, including a beautiful sparkling albariño. (Anyone who doubts that America is, indeed, great again need look no further than a fizzy albariño made outside Baltimore.)”

Pét-nat is enjoying a revival in America and we’re here to keep the party going.

This fall we plan to introduce new varieties into our repertoire. Think Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Albariño. Stay tuned.

2. Vin Doux Naturel

Vin doux naturel, or “naturally sweet wine”, is bright, fresh, naturally sweet and lightly fortified. A delicious combination, if we say so ourselves.

Vin doux naturel traces its origins back to the late 13th century in southern France. More specifically, the Languedoc-Roussillon area has long been famous for the production of top-notch vin doux naturel made from white Muscat grapes or red Grenache grapes. The wine is fortified with a neutral grape spirit to stop the yeast before fermentation is complete and all sugars have been converted into alcohol. Thus the wines retain some naturally occurring sugar, perceived as sweetness on the palate. 

So, what inspired us to try our hand at this centuries-old French tradition? Two things: 1. we’re harvesting our first crop of Muscat grown right here in our home vineyard. 2. We teamed up with Lost Ark Distilling in Columbia, MD to create grape spirits from our home-grown grapes.

Home vineyard Muscat grapes + home-grown grape spirit = estate “Vin Doux Naturel”! 

Oh, and did we mention vins doux naturels are delicious? We’re excited.

3. “Solera”

We’re releasing our first Port-style dessert wine this fall! 

This isn’t just any dessert wine – it’s a blend of barrel-aged wines dating back to 2011, our very first vintage. So a portion of this blend has been aging in French oak barrels for five years. 

We’re calling it “Solera” because of how it's made. Solera is a process for aging a wine by fractional blending in such a way that the finished product is a mixture of ages, with the average age gradually increasing as the process continues over many years. Solera literally means "on the ground" in Spanish, and it refers to the lower level of the set of barrels or other containers used in the process; the wine is traditionally transferred from barrel to barrel, top to bottom, the oldest mixtures being in the barrel right "on the ground”. Products which are often solera aged include Sherry, Madeira, Port and Brandy. 

Another cool thing to note about our “Solera” is that – like our Vin Doux Naturel – it’s been fortified with estate spirits made in collaboration with our good friends at Lost Ark Distilling! We transported several barrels of home-grown wine to Lost Ark where they distilled it to 190 proof – the perfect proof for fortifying wines. How cool is that? Again, true to our vision: 100% local.

We’re fascinated by the solera method because it’s a way to produce a delicious wine that will age with every new bottling AND it keeps a small portion of our first vintage alive forever!
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Follow along on Instagram as we document harvest 2017.
 

Maryland Wine, Maryland Pride

Maryland Wine, Maryland Pride

We have this mantra at Old Westminster: putting Maryland wine on the map. It used to sound crazy, but it looks a lot more like reality every passing year.  

When The Daily Meal published their list of the “101 Best Wineries in America” for 2017, we felt this overwhelming sense of two steps forward. Listed at No. 87, we could not be more excited or honored.

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We believe that wine reflects its maker’s passion. It has a mystical ability to represent the land, time, and hands that made it. Producers always tell of the terroir that makes the wine. It’s not just romanticized wine-nerd talk. It all starts with soil & climate! And places in Maryland have truly beautiful soils and unique climatic conditions that enable us to create wines worth writing home about.  

But what about the culture? What is a culture’s influence on wine? Specifically, what is Maryland wine?      

Maryland’s nicknames exemplify her perfectly. She is diverse, full of history and represents freedom and a bright future: “America in Miniature,” “Old Line State,” “Free State.” Surrounded and chock full of waterways, Maryland is known for its blue crabs, oysters and other Chesapeake Bay specialties. Baltimore, the largest city, floods its streets with support from local sports teams, businesses, and more recently, farmers, makers, and restaurateurs. Maryland is about her roots, community, and future.

The fresh white wines (and pét-nats!) best grown in clay and greenstone or limestone soils pair with Maryland’s classic seafood dishes, summer festivities and afternoons gazing over the inner harbor. Think Albariño & pan-seared bay scallops. 

The complex and concentrated red wines best grown in poor gravelly soils pair with Maryland raised red meats, charcuterie, vegetables and evenings by the fire. Think Cabernet Franc & a marbled ribeye from Evermore Farms.

We are proud to fashion Maryland products and produce wines that reflect the State we love. Maryland wine is not only about her diverse soils and wide-ranging climate, but also her people.

Maryland wine. Maryland pride. Join the movement!    

Field Trip to Tired Hands Fermentaria

Field Trip to Tired Hands Fermentaria

Join us as we take a little field trip to Tired Hands Fermentaria in Ardmore, PA.

Built over the course of thirteen months in an 85 year old building that once housed a trolly repair shop, Tired Hands Fermentaria offers up to 12 beers on tap and also serves as a production facility capable of producing as much as 10,000 barrels a year.

So we took a trip to check out some of their beers and we thought we’d tell you what we think!

What is ‘Green Harvest’?

What is ‘Green Harvest’?

Join us as we do a “green harvest” at Turkey Point Vineyard in North East, MD.

So what’s green harvest? Basically, it’s last-minute fruit-thinning. We visually select-out lagging grapes that we don’t want to carry to full ripeness. We find sections where clusters are heavier and we visually select these green harvest grapes to produce verjus (“green juice”). Verjus is used to acidulate drinks and produce dressings or glazes for restaurateurs. Chefs love it! Read more about "the new east coast acid," verju, here.

The Old Westminster Winery LiveCast Moves To Prime Time

The Old Westminster Winery LiveCast Moves To Prime Time

On Tuesday, July 11, Old Westminster’s hit show, “Wine For Lunch” will become “Wine For Dinner”. After 23 weekly episodes, hosts, Lisa Hinton, Ashli Johnson and Drew Baker announced to more than 2,000 viewers the new time (Tuesdays at 7:00 PM) & new feature: Each week, the sibling trio will feature widely distributed wines from around the world and lead a live and interactive wine tasting with viewers.

The wines will be announced the week before the show, giving interested folks the opportunity to go out and purchase the wines in advance. Those who acquire a bottle of the featured wine will taste along with the siblings and be given the opportunity to weigh in. It’s a great opportunity to grow in your appreciation and knowledge of wine!

To kick off this new format, Old Westminster Winery teamed up with the prestigious French wine importer, LVDH, based out of Baltimore. They supplied a mixed case of wines to be featured on the first five weeks of the show. Below you’ll find a list of the specific wines, price points & tasting date. Each of these are readily available wines, but if you want a list of places to buy them, please email Alan Cohen.

Week 1: Tuesday, July 11 @ 7 PM

We think it’s fitting to kick things off with a Bordeaux tasting. Bordeaux is the largest and one of the most storied wine-growing areas in France. Because of its wide geography and sheer size, many styles of wine are made throughout Bordeaux. We will focus in on an estate situated on clay-limestone soils in Camiran. Three primary styles of wines are produced there: a red blend made from Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, a Rosé made from Merlot, and a Sauvignon Blanc. Here are the wines:

  1. 2015 Chateau La Roche Saint Jean “Bordeaux” $12

  2. 2015 Chateau La Roche Saint Jean “Sauvignon” $12

  3. 2016 Chateau La Roche Saint Jean “Rosé” $12

Week 2: Tuesday, July 18 @ 7 PM

In Week 2 we’ll feature what is, to our minds, one of the best value wine regions in France: Beaujolais.  Beaujolais wine is generally made from the Gamay grape which is red, has a thin skin and is low in tannins. Beaujolais tends to be a light-bodied red wine, with relatively high acidity. The wine takes its name from the historical Province of Beaujolais, a wine-producing region located north of Lyon. Here are the wines:

  1. 2015 Domaine Roche-Guillon “Fleurie” $25

  2. 2015 Domaine des Gaudets “Morgon”, Cote du Py $25

  3. 2015 Domaines des Hospices, Civils de Lyon, “Beaujolais-Villages” $15

Week 3: Tuesday, July 25 @ 7 PM

In Week 3 we’ll go a little more off the beaten path with Petit Manseng from Comté Tolosan in the Southwest of France. Petit Manseng is a white wine grape variety that is grown primarily in South West France. The name is derived from its small, thick-skinned berries. The grape is often left on the vine to produce a late harvest wine made from near raisin like grapes. We’ll try two different styles. Here are the wines:

  1. 2010 Chateau Cabidos “Petit Manseng Sec” $25

  2. 2011 Chateau Cabidos “Petit Manseng Doux” $25

Week 4: Tuesday, August 1 @ 7 PM

In Week 4 we’ll feature another fun, yet less mainstream, region in Corbières. Corbières is located in the Languedoc-Roussillon, France. Red wine dominates the production in Corbières with almost 95 percent, with 3.5 percent rosé wine and 2 percent white wine making up the balance (But don’t think that deterred us from finding a killer white Corbières to feature). Carignan is the most common grape variety. Due to its large size and geography, Corbières encompasses an enormous variety of soil types and microclimates. The wines from the region tend to be just as varied as the terroir. Here are the wines:

  1. 2015 Domaine Spencer “Le P ’tite Spencer” (Carignan 60%, Syrah 20%, Mourvèdre 20%) $16

  2. 2015 Domaine Spencer “La P’tite Envie” (Vermentino 70%, Roussanne 15%, Marsanne 15%) $16

Week 5: Tuesday, August 8 @ 7 PM

In Week 5 we finish strong with wines from one our favorite regions of France: The Loire Valley. The first is a Cabernet Franc from Chinon.  Chinon is a town situated on the banks of the River Vienne in the Loire where the vineyards cover the relatively steep banks. The vineyards consist almost entirely of erosional scree and gravels on top of rather hard Turonian limestones. In Chinon, Cabernet Franc is king and it is fitting that’s what we’re going to taste together. The second is a Chenin Blanc from Saumur. Saumur is a region noted for still and sparkling wines produced from Chenin Blanc. So, that’s what we’re going to taste! Here are the wines:

  1. 2015 Clos de la Lysardiere “Chinon” (100% Cabernet Franc) $17

  2. 2015 Les Pouches “Saumur” (100% Chenin Blanc) $14

Over the next five weeks, we'll explore each of these wines together with our viewers. 

Tune in – and weigh in – Join us for “Wine For Dinner” every Tuesday at 7:00 PM LIVE on Facebook & Instagram!

Taste Camp

Taste Camp

"There were soil pits, barrel rooms, vineyard tours, breweries and a distillery as a group of wine bloggers and other industry professionals from all over North America enjoyed a three-day immersion in the best of Maryland’s burgeoning farm alcohol industry. This was Taste Camp, an opportunity for beverage writers to explore Maryland, and for Maryland’s producers to strut their stuff before an international audience." - From the Washinton Post

Get the full WAPO story here

The Burnt Hill Project: Redefining Iconic American Wine

The Burnt Hill Project: Redefining Iconic American Wine

We’ve found a perfect hillside for growing grapes. The kind of grapes that will make wines that redefine what's possible in the eastern United States.

We'll never forget the moment we first stood on top of the hill overlooking Sugarloaf Mountain and the Blue Ridge. It was love at first sight. And it’s been confirmed by geologists, viticulturist and winemakers from near and far: we have a very strong sense that Burnt Hill is going to change the game.

So, of course, we're encouraged that Dave McIntyre, Wine & Food columnist for the Washington Post, is chronicling our journey: “I wrote in January about the Bakers’ purchase of Burnt Hill Farm and their hopes to produce an iconic, world-class red wine there. I will follow their efforts over the next few years to describe the choices, efforts, and risks involved in creating a vineyard.”

You can read these two WAPO articles written so far:

How does a top-rated winery in Maryland get even better? Buy a farm

Before the vines go in, it’s busy down on Old Westminster’s farm

To date, we’ve done a lot of recon: mapping the soils, digging truth pits, running visual and chemical analysis, etc. We’ve discovered ancient soil – formed from decomposing slate, phyllite and schist – that’s rocky and nutritionally poor, requiring the vines to dig deep for sustenance. The high elevation exposes the site to abundant sunshine and wind which are nature’s antibiotics. The steep hills quickly evacuate rainwater and cold air. All of these are characteristics of an excellent vineyard site for growing red wine. So we’re focused on that one thing: creating iconic red wines.

If I asked you to tell me what comes to mind when I say iconic red wine from America, I suspect many are picturing a Napa cab. Something culty, expensive, overly ripe, high in alcohol and aged in 100% new oak. And you wouldn’t be wrong. We’ve been conditioned to think that way – that bigger is better, that “makeup” is desirable.

But honestly, I think it’s a great time to redefine “iconic” American red wine.

We’re going to challenge current beliefs with unique and transparent wines – wines that offer balance, nuance, and character. We’re going to farm thoughtfully, using biodiverse cover crops, biodynamic principles and incorporating animals. And then, in the winery, we’re going to craft wines with a light hand, ferment with indigenous yeast, and bottle it all without fining or filtration. These wines will be made without makeup – a pure reflection of the time and place where they’re grown and the people who guided the process.

Creating an iconic vineyard isn’t a goal with a clear finish line. It’s a process. We’ll always strive to improve. But the hope is that we create many beautiful wines along the way. Wines that offer a glimpse into the potential of the Burnt Hill site and inspire us to continue on our journey.

Behind The Wine: Meet Our Team!

Behind The Wine: Meet Our Team!

This an Ode. An Ode to the TEAM!

We love nuance. Nuance is that special something that can go unnoticed by the casual passersby. The deeper lookers know that nuance puts a sheen on things. There are a million details that require a multiplicity of talents and none of it would possible without the talents that the Old Westminster Team brings to the table.  We thought we'd give you a peek behind the scenes -- to give you a glimpse into the nuances that make us unique: Our AMAZING TEAM. 

 

Summer Is Here! Let’s Make It Great.

Summer Is Here! Let’s Make It Great.

Ready For Summer? We Are.

June is a super busy time on Old Westminster Road. The vineyard, winery and tasting room are all bustling with activity. We want to share some of these happenings with you and also to thank you for being the absolute best customers, friends and family out there! So, here’s the latest in our endeavors to make this the best summer yet...

The Vineyard

The vines are growing vigorously skyward, the grape clusters are in full bloom and the chores seem endless. Our team has spent the past few weeks hand-planting the new Ribolla Gialla vines! RG is a grape variety I fell in love with last spring when my wife and I visited Northeast Italy. It makes beautiful wines in many styles – bright, aromatic wines fermented in steel, richly textured wines fermented in oak, and of course, delicious bubbly. We're the first to plant it in Maryland, and I have many reasons to believe it will make absolutely gorgeous wines from our greenstone soils.

Then there are the mature vines. We’ve been tirelessly removing suckers, positioning shoots between the trellis wires and removing leaves adjacent to clusters to expose them to the sun and breeze – nature’s antibiotics. We think a bottle of wine will reflect our efforts… At least that’s what we tell ourselves!

The Winery

Then there’s the cellar, where we’re preparing many new wines for bottling. Lisa is racking the reds from the French oak barrels where they’ve rested for the past year and a half, to the tanks in the exact proportions to make up our blends. We determined these blends through many hours of tasting, deliberation and consensus over the quiet winter months. The white wines are being moved from tank to tank leaving behind only the lees.

Important note: These wines will be bottled without fining or filtration. This is a move we are making to offer wine drinkers a more authentic product. One without any makeup. Lisa does things a bit differently – and hopefully better – every passing year because she’s always learning and challenging the status quo. We hope you’ll enjoy this latest revelation.

The Tasting Room

We believe that the only way to truly appreciate great wine is through a personal experience. So, come spend a relaxing, fun-filled evening on the farm! Every Friday from May – October is #FoodTruckFriday! We have a local food truck on site from 5-10 PM slinging local fare to complement our delicious wines and live music by talented musicians. This all in addition to our year-round Saturdays & Sundays from 12-5 PM. So dust off your lawn chairs and join us in the country!

Thank You

Lastly, we want to say thank you to our loyal customers. We consider you all friends. It’s an absolute honor to spend every day doing what we love -- to make your summer even better. Your appreciation and encouragement has been overwhelming over the years and we would not be here without each one of you.

We can’t wait to see you all at Old Westminster Winery & Vineyard this summer!

Ribolla Gialla

Ribolla Gialla

We're excited to let you in on a little something: We're doing something that's never been done in Maryland before! Ribolla Gialla vines come to Old Westminster! Many of you know that we love to experiment with new varieties. But the bottom line for us is that we always only want to grow natural wines that authentic with a sense of place and time, and of course, we always strive to make iconic wines that are delicious and unique. Ribolla Gialla makes really beautiful, light-bodied wines with high natural acidity and floral notes. In this short video, we'll take you on a little field trip to show you the process of planting these beauties.    

'Wine For Lunch’ LiveCast Strikes a Chord

'Wine For Lunch’ LiveCast Strikes a Chord

On Tuesday, May 2nd, Wine For Lunch hosts, Lisa Hinton, Ashli Johnson, and Drew Baker announced to more than 1,000 viewers the addition of an informative new feature: Each month, the sibling trio will feature a new theme for the live and interactive wine tasting. Themes include wine styles, varieties, and regions – both locally and around the world – each to be chosen live by the W4L audience. It’s a great opportunity to grow in your appreciation and knowledge of wine. This is mid-week wine tasting for the 21st century!

photo credit: Kelly Heck Photography

photo credit: Kelly Heck Photography

The first theme is “Wines from New York State.” And since there are five weeks in the month of May, they've selected five favorite wines: Hermann J. Wiemer’s 2014 Field Cuvée, Channing Daughters’ 2015 Ramato, Forge Cellars’ 2014 Les Alliés, Southold Farm + Cellars’ 2014 Flying and Falling, and Paumanok’s 2010 Merlot.

As you might expect from a livecast, viewers decide which wine each week. The first week, viewers voted (with a bit of nudging by Lisa) for Paumanok’s 2010 Merlot. And boy are we glad they did. This wine is lights out – offering intense aromas of crushed blackberries, plum, fig, and sweet vanilla – chewy and complex on the palate with rich, voluminous tannins. On the bottle, this wine said to drink between 5-10 years after bottling. At seven years old, this wine shows youthful exuberance. What a great wine to start this new theme off right!

Over the next four weeks, we'll explore each of the other wines in the order viewers select. Then for the month of June, viewers decide what style, variety or region to explore next.

Tune in – and weigh in – Join us for Wine For Lunch every Tuesday at 1:00 PM LIVE on Facebook & Instagram!

Bottling Day 2017!

Bottling Day 2017!

We love Springtime! All our hard work is meticulously packaged in a beautifully labeled bottle. And we can't wait for you to enjoy these beauties in our tasting room on a warm, sun-shiny day coming soon! If you've ever wondered how wine is bottled, here's a little window into the process. And even better: The beauty of the bottle is surpassed by the wine within. Come and experience it for yourself!  

Soil Exploration at Burnt Hill

When you think "farmer," does your mind associate science with it? Hopefully this video will convey that it should! Farming and science work hand-in-hand. Add to this that technology has come a long way for farmers and vintners. We hope this short video gives you a window into all that goes into that wine you're about to experience at our tasting room this summer!     

Here’s A Peek: Old Westminster Spring Updates

Here’s A Peek: Old Westminster Spring Updates

The kind of Spring you can feel is finally here! Sure, for most that means Mother’s Day, busting out the grill, and baseball. But for us, like every other season of the year, it means growing and bottling world-class wines. We’ve been working diligently all winter and now we’re ready for you to taste the results.

Here are 4 things we thought you’d like to know about this budding vintage: 

1. The Vineyard

It all starts here. We’ve just finished pruning all 10,000 vines in our Home Vineyard. Each vine was meticulously cared for to ensure healthy growth in the season ahead. Now we eagerly await bud-break. Please hope along with us that we’ll dodge frost this spring! We’re not out from beneath this annual threat until Mother's Day.

2. The Winery

We’re putting finishing touches on our first Pét-Nat to be released this spring -- affectionately named Barbera Rosé. This wine is sure to change the game! Lisa is also preparing our still wines for the first round of bottling on April 17th. This year we're doing things a bit differently. These wines are made with as light of a human hand as possible: wild yeast fermentation and bottled without fining or filtration. We think the results will knock your socks off!

3. The Burnt Hill Project

We’re in discovery mode at our newly acquired Burnt Hill Farm. On April 12th we will be EM (electromagnetic) mapping. EM maps use the conductivity of soil to create subsurface maps. It’s like an x-ray. As you can imagine, it's impossible to peel an entire hillside back to study each layer of soil. Instead, we create color coded EM maps. Once we have our maps, we dig "truth pits" (6' deep holes) with a backhoe. These pits, in conjunction with our maps, give us a complete picture of what's beneath so that we can better know the soils on our hillside. This technology informs our decisions on what varieties of grapes to plant and where. There’s no room for guessing on a project of this magnitude.

4. The Tasting Room

Back at the Old Westminster tasting room, we are ramping up for the season. New wines are on the way and so is live music. And food trucks! On Cinco de Mayo from 5-10PM, we are hosting our inaugural "Food Truck Friday" featuring wood-fired pizza from our good friends from Well Crafted Pizza, live music from the ever-talented Mark Scott, and of course plenty of delicious wine! Pack up some lawn chairs and join us in the country for a relaxing, fun-filled evening.

We can’t wait to see you at Old Westminster Winery & Vineyard this year! Each year brings a new phase in our growth. As local farmers and artisans, we absolutely love to share the fruit of the land with you. Check out the Summer lineup Here.