Summer Solstice Reflections

Summer Solstice Reflections

Reflections of the first-ever Solstice are lingering long around here… the buzz hasn’t worn off! Our hearts are filled with a deep sense of gratitude for all who came to this epic celebration of low-intervention wine producers - an exciting new frontier in American wine!

We originally envisioned this as a way to celebrate and elevate fellow producers who inspire our farming practices & winemaking approach. It turned out to be that - and so much more.


We'll never forget the moment we first stood on top of Burnt Hill overlooking the Appalachian Range... it was love at first sight. We bought the land on the crisp winter morning of December 20th, 2016 and we immediately rolled up our sleeves and got to work. We spent two years tilling the earth, cultivating cover crops, and enlivening the farm through biodynamic practices. And now, three seasons later, we planted the first 30,000 vines made up of a thoughtful mix of old world grape varieties as well as Native American varieties which will be farmed organically. 

In due time, this hillside – with all its elements in harmony – will yield wines unlike anywhere else on earth. 

Rather than sit back and wait patiently for our first harvest, we decided to plan a festival with the purpose of elevating those who are inspiring our vision for land stewardship and love of minimal-intervention wines. And that is how Summer Solstice was born.

Solstice embodies a next-evolution in wine. 

Many of you made this first-ever Solstice more than a lasting collection of awesome memories. You’ve given the event a sense of FUTURE as well - inspiring what appears to be an emerging movement of forward-thinking natural wine producers and biodynamic farmers - we are collectively creating a community that embodies an evolution in winemaking! 

Solstice revealed that there is a living and growing community of like-minded farmers and winemakers who are committed to sustainable farming practices, low-intervention wine production and the true story that soil tells through a bottle of wine.    


We hope to see you at Solstice 2020!

With the first Solstice behind us, along with the many things we learned, we’ve decided that we simply must do it again! Planning will begin after the 2019 harvest is in the rear view mirror; we can’t wait to roll up our sleeves again. 

If you haven’t already, please join our mailing list below. We welcome your participation and we’ll probably be tapping you for some feedback about Solstice and other things along the way!  

Stay in the know.

Have you joined yet? Join the project here | Want to see all the photos from the festival? Click here.

Have any thoughts you’d like to share? Do tell here!

Name *

Let’s Re-imagine the Modern Wine Spritzer

Let’s Re-imagine the Modern Wine Spritzer

Special thanks to Wine Enthusiast and Sevenfifty for highlighting our latest efforts with piquette! Few people know of piquette, and if that’s you, the recent Sevenfifty article offers a quick descriptio

Derived from the French word for “prick” or “prickle,” which describes the drink’s slight fizz, piquette dates to ancient Greek and Roman times, when it was known as lora… In France, piquette is said to have been the preferred drink of vineyard workers at the lunch table, as its low alcohol encouraged post-lunch productivity rather than an alcohol-fueled stupor… nearly all European winemaking countries have their own version of piquette, usually made and consumed by field workers and their families.

So yes, piquette is not designed to replace that special bottle of wine for big occasions. It's meant to delight you, quench your thirst, and keep you moving!

Piquette is produced by hydrating pressed grapes for a second fermentation. Because freshly pressed grapes are plump with sugar and yeast, a second spontaneous fermentation takes off when water is added. This yields a refreshing wine-like beverage with a lower alcohol percentage than traditional wine.

We go into more detail about our foray into piquette, here. But the big a-ha moment came for us as we looked to history -- and friends -- for inspiration. Why not revive piquette and reimagine the modern wine spritzer? So we did. Not only through the Old Westminster Pet Nat piquette but also with our recent Better Wine Co releases.

Our thinking was, rather than adding sugar and adjuncts to already bad wine like most wine spritzers, why not change the standard by reviving the ancient approach? So we did. And as a bonus, because it’s so beautifully resourceful, the piquette method helped us bolster production considerably in an otherwise challenging year.

Piquette aligns beautifully with our approach to sustainable farming. I mean think about it. During harvest, we have literal tons of grape pomace with little purpose but to be composted. Is this not a shame? So in a spirit of adventure and creativity, we’re repurposing resources to make the perfect beverage for an active lifestyle: delicious piquette!

Piquette is not only delicious and thirst-quenching, it's also a natural byproduct of sustainable winemaking that has a taste, story, and experience all of its own.

So yes, we’re on a mission to reimagine the wine spritzer -- sessionable wine spritzers (6% abv) that... taste better, are better for you, and are better for the environment!

Summer Solstice : Natural Wine Festival

Summer Solstice : Natural Wine Festival

Don’t Miss Summer Solstice!

Those of you who’ve followed the Old Westminster journey over the past few years are familiar with the fact that we purchased a second farm -- a vineyard we’ve named Burnt Hill. So for the past few years, we’ve been cultivating the land, preparing it for planting, and organizing our goals for the farm. (Learn more about the Burnt Hill journey up to this point in this past post.)

We’re excited to have reached a point where we’re officially ready to plant our vines and begin telling the Burnt Hill story.

And... We’re opening up the land in new ways.

Enter the Summer Solstice Festival - Saturday, June 22!

Burnt Hill represents an exciting new frontier in American wine! We're leveraging ten years of experience at Old Westminster Winery + emulating others who farm biodynamically to make wines that inspire us.

Rather than sit back quietly waiting for three years to release our first bottle of wine and saying, "Hey! here it is! come buy it!", we're hosting a Summer Solstice Festival to celebrate folks who inspire the way that we farm and elevate the beauty of natural wine.

Summer Solstice will be taking place on Saturday, June 22nd, 2019. It’s a celebration of the best low-intervention wine producers under a giant circus tent atop a serene hillside at Burnt Hill in Clarksburg, Maryland. It's going to be a landmark gathering of the natural wine community in DC/MD/VA featuring farmers, art, music, provisions and purveyors.

Patrons will have the opportunity to meet and taste the wines of over 25 of America’s top winemakers - here are just some of the makers and producers that will be pouring at the festival:

The Scholium Project | Fable Farm | Purity Wine | En Cavale | Fausse Piste | Old Westminster Winery | Lightwell Survey | Liten Buffel | Brooks | Art+Science | Ruth Lewandowski | Zafa Wines | Floral Terranes | Margins Wine | Methode Sauvage | Iapetus Wine | Wild Arc Farm | Inconnu Wine | Johan Vineyards | Broc Cellars | Hiyu Wine Farm | Les Lunes | Native Selections | Zev Rovine | Williams Corner | Plant Wines | Domestique | Revel | MFW Wine Co | Siema

Delicious food options will also be offered by Clavel + Blacksauce + Ekiben + Primrose. Music by DJ Mike Bernstein.

This event is one that you don’t want to miss - tickets are sold at a first come, first serve basis.

Click here for all Summer Solstice information + ticket information

Burnt Hill in the Press: Possibility, Adventure, and Summer Solstice

Burnt Hill in the Press: Possibility, Adventure, and Summer Solstice

We are sincerely GRATEFUL to have had a superb write up in the Washington Post last week.

In Can Maryland Produce An Iconic Red Wine?  WaPo wine writer Dave McIntyre does an amazing job of capturing the Burnt Hill story and what we see as an emerging frontier in American wine.

We love how the piece highlights our biodynamic farming practices and that we are “determined to make a low-intervention approach work in the challenging Mid-Atlantic climate.” These are exceptionally important issues to us with a lot of challenges but we’re committed to our approach.    

The article also reveals some of the farming histories of the Burnt Hill property:    

“The vineyard along Burnt Hill Road marks a new phase for a property that has been farmland at least since 1865 when it was owned by Rufus King, said John Liebertz, a Montgomery County Planning Department historian. There are still Kings in the area, Baker said. The land divided through inheritance and marriage and the property was purchased in the early 1950s by Edgar Riedel, who left it to his daughter, Kathleen Riedel Cumberledge. Kathleen’s stepdaughter, Kelly Johnson, sold the 118-acre property to the Bakers just before Christmas 2016. ‘We know tobacco was farmed there once because we found the racks and baskets used in tobacco farming when we went through the barn,’ Johnson told me in a phone interview. ‘My father leased the land to other farmers to bale hay or grow corn.’”

Burnt Hill: Equal Parts, Possibility + Adventure

Us: Let’s produce an iconic American wine.

Also us: Let’s experiment!

So we try uncommon things.

“Along with those rows of Gamay, they have planted some pinot noir, also uncommon in a region dominated by cabernet franc and other Bordeaux varieties. They have devoted a plot to 90 experimental varieties bred by Cliff Ambers, an iconoclastic viticulturist who pollinates native grape vines with pollen from European vinifera varieties” writes McIntyre.

This passion for creativity and experimentation is why we’re hosting Summer Solstice at Burnt Hill Farm this year -- a landmark gathering of the natural wine community in DC/MD/VA, featuring farmers, art, music, provisions, and purveyors.

Join us for adventure at Summer Solstice this year!  

We're leveraging ten years of experience at Old Westminster Winery + emulating others who farm biodynamically/sustainably to make wines that inspire us. Our Summer Solstice festival will celebrate fellow innovators who inspire the way that we farm and elevate the beauty of natural wine.

Summer Solstice happens Saturday, June 22nd, 2019 - a celebration of the best low-intervention wine producers under a giant circus tent atop a serene hillside at Burnt Hill in Clarksburg, Maryland.

Patrons will have the opportunity to meet and taste the wines of over 25 of America’s top winemakers.

Register now and get our limited time 30% discount when you purchase tickets! Use Code: WaPoVIP

New Year, New Projects.

New Year, New Projects.

It's a peaceful time of year here at Old Westminster Winery. The rush of harvest is behind us and the vines are settling in for a long winter's sleep. As 2018 comes to a restful close, we are taking a look back on a few of the milestones that took place this past year…

2018 was a year of tremendous growth for Old Westminster Winery – we expanded our product line (through new canned products and experimental Piquette) which lead us to having distribution in 11 states across the country – including New York and California (we’re the first Maryland winery to be distributed in these markets!)

In addition to our product growth, we brought on 5 new full time employees (with plans to continue growing our team!). We now have an in-house Somm, a Sales Manager, a Content Creator, a Vineyard Manager, and an Office Manager. We’re ecstatic about the potential for bigger and better things coming up in the 2019 year – fasten your seatbelts; it’s going to be a wild ride!

But all that aside… the biggest and most exciting expansion for us this year was the growth of our family through the addition of a sweet, new baby.

In the early hours of the morning on December 20th, Lisa (Cofounder & Winemaker) and husband, Zach welcomed their first son, Huck Thomas Hinton, into the world. He weighed in at a solid 8 lbs and was 21.5” long. After a week of life, baby and parents are happy and healthy. 

On the day after Christmas, Drew (Cofounder) and wife, Casey hosted their daughter, Noelle (aka Nelly)’s, first birthday. It was a joyous celebration of a wild and willful child with a knack for making everyone smile.

Needless to say, the next generation of winemakers are on their way!


With so many exciting things having had taken place this year, it only makes us more elated about the new adventures that are coming this upcoming year!

Here are 3 new projects that will be premiering in early 2019:

1. The Burnt Hill Project –One word: EXPANSION.

In addition to Old Westminster,we’ve found a new farm that is perfect for growing grapes… and when we say “perfect” we mean PERFECT. This farm will grow the kind of grapes that will make wines that redefine American wine.

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. We bought the land on the crisp winter morning of December 20th, 2016 and we immediately rolled up our sleeves and got to work. We’ve spent two years tilling the earth, cultivating cover crops, and enlivening the farm through biodynamic practices. And now, two years later, we believe the ground is finally ready for 30,000 vines to be planted this coming April. We will plant a thoughtful mix of old world grape varieties (like Cabernet Franc and Gamay) as well as Native American varieties which will be farmed organically. 

This hillside – with all its elements in harmony – will yield wines unlike anywhere else on earth.

Interested in following along on this project? Sign up for the mailing list, “like” The Burnt Hill Project on Facebook, and “follow” The Burnt Hill Project on Instagram!

2. Tasting Room Cocktails – Everything we do at our tasting room is centered on our overarching goal to connect our community to the land through a glass of wine… and now through rotating seasonal cocktails! Join us in the Tasting Room beginning Friday, January 11thto enjoy artisan cocktails made from estate spirits and other Maryland-grown ingredients. We will be releasing two new cocktail recipes each month – one light & bright, the second bold & rich, as well as “mocktails” for those who want to have some fun while staying sober. So reach out to friends old and new – join us in our tasting room for an expanded experience that is both fun and relaxing.

3. Saint Vincent Wine Festival – We are putting a Maryland-spin on an ancient Burgundian tradition! Each January, wine lovers from across the world travel to Burgundy, France to celebrate Saint Vincent, the Patron Saint of Wine. On January 26-27, 2019, The Saint Vincent Wine Festival will take place on the rolling hills of the Old Westminster farm! Join us for a festive weekend featuring winery tours, barrel sampling, live music, seasonal fare and roaring fire pits. Tickets are limited – get yours HERE!

There’s a lot to be excited for and thankful for, isn’t there?! 

Now is the time to prepare for a new phase in our growth… as farmers and artisans, we absolutely love to share the fruit of our land with you. We can’t wait to see you at Old Westminster Winery this year!

Happy New Year: stay in touch!

Grade "A" Wines. Literally.

Grade "A" Wines. Literally.

It’s an exhilarating and soul-satisfying thing when your life’s work catches the eyes of others… here at Old Westminster we are so fortunate to have a remarkably loving and complimentary support system and fan-base. It’s only through the support of you, dear reader, that we have grown in the ways that we have over the past 10 years. So for that, we thank you.

We diligently pour ourselves into the wines that we make… our ideas, our time, our creativity, our desire to experiment, our attention to detail… and we carefully craft balanced, unique, delicious wines that we hope would not only make our people proud, but would also make the state of Maryland proud. We willingly work 7 days a week to provide our customers with the best possible experience.

With that being said, we are so, so humbled and so honored to share some wildly exciting press coverage with you all. This month we have been featured three times in three separate reputable publications:

  • Seven Fifty Daily

  • James Suckling

  • The Washington Post

We can hardly contain our excitement and would like to offer up a heartfelt “thank you” to these publications for tasting, enjoying, and sharing about our wines with your loyal readers.

We have linked the press articles bellow in hopes that you will enjoy reading them as much as we did! Cheers!

Seven Fifty Daily: 10 Bottles That Will Change Your Mind about East Coast Wines

10 Bottles That Will Change Your Mind about East Coast Wines

This wine (Pinot Gris Pétillant Naturel 2017) is an amazing expression of what can be done without additions or intervention. It stands up against pétillant naturels all over the world.
— Khoury-Diaz

James Suckling: American Wine Revolution Tasting

American Wine Revolution Tasting by

Old Westminster Albariño Pétillant Naturel 2017

“A riot of boisterous tropical-fruit aromas in an untamed, hands-off style. The palate is packed with succulent, ripe peaches. Utterly delicious Pét Nat! Drink now.”

Old Westminster Outlier 2015

“Ripe raspberries and plums with a bold but soft palate, packed with blackberry and plum flavors. This has a wealth of depth and detail. A blend of 75% Verdot and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon. Drink this young.”

Old Westminster Solera (Batch No. 1)

“A ‘kitchen sink blend’ in the style of sweet sherry from a Solera dating from 2011, delivering dried fruit, nuts and butterscotch on the palate. Sweet. Drink now.”

The Washington Post: Your Thanksgiving Must-Drink Wines

Your Thanksgiving Must-Drink Wines by

This is a fun wine (Piquette 2018), a “nouveau” from Maryland to mark the recent, very difficult and rainy vintage... If you’ve visited a winery in autumn, this wine may remind you of the raw smell of fermenting wine. This is red, so enjoy it as you might a Lambrusco.
— Dave McIntyre

A New Take on an Old Classic

A New Take on an Old Classic

This fall, we're making something new and exciting.

Our goal is to create a wine that's juicy and refreshing…

Spritzy + lower in alcohol.

Thirst quenching + sessionable.

So we looked to our friends and to history for inspiration. The results are even more delicious than we could have imagined.... So what is this magical nectar? Well, it's an all-but-forgotten beverage called PIQUETTE.



Piquette is a vinous beverage produced by hydrating pressed grapes with water for a second fermentation. Because freshly pressed grapes are chock-full of sugar and yeast, a second spontaneous fermentation takes off when water is added to the grapes. This yields a refreshing, wine-like beverage with a lower alcohol percentage than traditional wine.


Historically piquette was a popular beverage among field workers throughout Europe who would've likely been given pressed grapes as payment for their labor in the vineyards. Because the workers were often unable to afford the expensive wines that their labor produced, they excitedly turned their pomace payment into a thirst-quenching wine-like spritzer for consumption at the end of long day working in the vineyard.

During the Great French Wine Blight in the late 19th century, the production of wine fell so dramatically in France that piquette production soared to make the most of increasingly scarce grapes. Getting two uses out of the grapes that so much hard work went into growing in the vineyard makes perfect sense. The first use yields a complex, site-specific wine that tells a story of a particular time and place. The second use yields a refreshing piquette. Just like many centuries ago, it's the perfect beverage to enjoy at the end of long day working around the house, mowing the lawn, tending the garden, or splitting firewood.  

Piquette is not only thirst-quenching and gulpable, it's also a natural byproduct of sustainable winemaking program and has a taste, story, and experience all of its own. It's not designed to replace that special bottle of wine shared at the kitchen table. It's meant to quench your thirst and leave you refreshed after a few glasses.


Here at Old Westminster Winery, we think that piquette is worth exploring. During harvest, we have TONS of grape pomace with little purpose but to be composted. Such a shame! It's with a resourceful and creative spirit that we decided to try our hand at making fresh, alluring, and artful piquette. 

Like so many of our side projects, this one is an act of emulation of our friends. Todd Cavallo at Wild Arc in New York recently bottled the first modern piquette we're aware of. We loved it. So much so that we were inspired to build on the goodness they created with some of our own ideas. So here's what we did... 


We collected and hydrated all of our grape skins in tanks to macerate and ferment spontaneously with wild yeast. This stuff is too good -- and too valuable -- to waste! After a few days, we drained the tank, pressed the skins and sent the juice to a mix of stainless steel, oak barrels and our foeder. 

When the fermentation is nearly finished – and the remaining sugar is at the precise level – we bottled the wine under crown cap. The fermentation finishes in bottle and the resultant CO2 is trapped and dissolved into the wine under pressure to create beautiful, fine bubbles. This method is called pét-nat. 

Pét-nat is a natural style of sparkling wine that made its debut in France’s Loire Valley half a millennia ago. Pétillant naturel (lit. “naturally sparkling”) is fresh and fizzy while displaying authentic handmade qualities. If you've been following us at all over the years, you know we're all in on pét-nat. We absolutely love her raw, unpolished vitality. We think the pét-nat method is the perfect way to flaunt the lively, youthful character of piquette. 


We'll be releasing the first pét-nat piquette to our wine club members on the first of November. Not a part of our Wine Club? Click here to join so that you can get first dibs on this limited edition beverage!


Harvest 2018: Whites, Reds & Rain

Harvest 2018: Whites, Reds & Rain

Rain. Every farmer’s gleeful dream or worst nightmare.

All throughout history and all across the globe, civilizations pray desperately for rain to fall on parched land or they beg for it to cease… 

With us being rooted in Maryland (and all our Mid-Atlantic friends will say “amen!” to this…) we have a “finicky” relationship with rain and weather - we are blessed in that we experience the beauty of all four seasons to the fullest, but at the same time the weather here can have extreme shifts - changing at the drop of the hat. 

No two springs are the same.

No two summers are the same.

Which means that each fall when harvest comes around… all our harvests are most definitely never the same.


This year’s biggest hurdle has been, you guessed it, the rain.

The good news is that the majority of Hurricane Florence stayed south of us (our best goes out to our friends in the Carolinas and Virginia!)… but that doesn’t mean that we didn’t have an abundance of rain this past season.

At this point, we're not changing our plans in any significant way as a result of the rain. We've harvested a significant percentage of our grapes for white wine, pét nat and rosé over the past couple of weeks. We're happy to report everything looks and, more importantly, tastes pretty good to this point in the vintage.


So, what's behind our good fortune? Well, no simple answer will suffice, but I think three main things contributed: 

1) Our people.

It's often said that good fortune resides at the intersection of preparation and patience… throughout the past year we have worked diligently and skillfully to find just the right individuals to add to our growing team - we haven’t rushed… we’ve waded and sifted through countless resumes and applications… it’s through that patience and diligence that we have created a team with a unified mission, value, and drive to create remarkable products worthy of the OWW label.

We cannot thank our team enough.

2) Our partners.

We are blessed to work with a band of hard-working and conscientious farmers. Their goal, like ours, is to produces grapes -- and subsequently wine -- worth celebrating. In addition to our home vineyard, we work closely with neighboring vineyards to source grapes. Grüner Veltliner, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and others from Cool Ridge Vineyard perched atop a limestone hillside on South Mountain. Pinot Grigio, Viognier and Cabernet Franc from the Libertas Estate situated on a magnificent, rocky hillside in Mt Airy. Chardonnay and Muscat from the sandy, well-drained soils at Turkey Point Vineyard in North East. Our multi-vineyard, Maryland-grown approach allows us to craft wines that reflect our region’s diverse geologies and variable climate.

3) New sustainable farming practices.

We're in the process of piloting a new sustainability certification process on the east coast. Currently there are no SIP (Sustainability In Practice) certified vineyards on the east coast. It's a California based program aimed at preserving and protecting the natural environment, treating employees and the community with care, and having sound business practices with a long-term view that protects both the present and the future. For us, this involved no herbicides – we manage undervine weeds manually; no synthetic insecticides – we use stylet oil, kaolin clay organic, biological materials to manage japanese beetles, fruit flies, mites, etc.; minimal fungicides – we stylet oil, copper, sulfur, and phosphoric acid to manage powdery mildew, downy mildew, phomopsis, botrytis, etc.; biodynamics – last year we started incorporating biodynamic preparations into our farm. In particular, BD508 was in every spray we used this year and it seems to have worked some magic! BD508 is a biodynamic preparation also known as Horsetail (Equisetum Arvense) Preparation. It is a ferment or ‘tea’ style preparation that is applied direct to the soil and plant. It's traditionally used to control or limit fungal growth, especially powdery and downy mildew. It is both a preventative and curative preparation.

So with all that being said, here’s the lowdown on the grapes:


Looking ahead, we are mostly concerned about the reds -- ripening is going to be tricky… As a result, we're switching up our program to focus more on carbonic/juicy style reds this season. These styles are much better suited to fruit with lower phenolic ripeness, lower sugar content and higher natural acidity. We've even got a new 1,500 gal foeder to break in with whole-cluster CF next week. :)


As for our whites, they're in great shape. Harvest began with a bang on Labor Day weekend. Chardonnay and Albarino came in with good yields and chemistries. Pinot Gris, Viognier and Riesling were a bit light (mostly due to rain during bloom), but the flavors and character more than made up for the loss in volume. The theme of this season's crop is lower than normal yields, moderate natural acidity and sugar levels. The fermentations are ticking away wildly and the aromas and flavors are vibrant… We have much to be thankful for!


So as you can see, it has been an eventful season thus far… but we are on the up and up! We are expectant and excited to share our newest products with you soon; thank you for your continued support. Stay tuned for more updates!

Until next time; cheers!

Mind Share Project: Old Westminster + Aslin Beer

Mind Share Project: Old Westminster + Aslin Beer

A fundamental goal here at Old Westminster Winery is to put Maryland on the map. Maryland's diverse landscape, dynamic community, and business curiosity offer boundless possibilities for the creation of unique products and experiences.

We're not only passionate about creating forward-thinking, high-quality wines, but also collaborating with like-minded brands and businesses - joining forces to create avant-garde products.

Our intellectual curiosity and itch to challenge the status quo has given life to a new collaborative series we’re dubbing the Mind Share Project. The premise is simple: team up with our friends and create delicious, non-traditional hybrids of wine/beer/cider/spirits/kombucha, etc.! And we’re traveling all over the county in the process. After all, getting outside of our borders is vital to our vision for proselytizing Maryland’s bounty near and far!

Enter Alsin Beer Co.

Aslin Beer Co. is a distinguished brewery situated just across the Potomac River in Herndon, VA. We're excited to announce that our first Mind Share Project is in the works with these fine folks. Stay tuned for more info on what we're brewing (and fermenting!) this fall! 

Our Newest, Old-School Toy

Our Newest, Old-School Toy

Here at Old Westminster, we are passionate believers in tradition and innovation - in combining these two contrasting perspectives we get to exercise our experimental creativity... and that keeps us excited. We pride ourselves on creating beautiful, unique, and flavorful wines that embody timeless tradition infused with modern-day, new-world flair. With that being said, we’d like to introduce you to the newest, old-school toy here at OW: the amphora.


An amphora is a type of vessel that dates back as early as the Neolithic Period and is characterized by its size and shape (a small base, large, cylindrical body, and elongated spout) and two large handles. Traditionally, amphorae are handspun on large pottery wheels and are made of terra cotta (clay-based), giving them a strong red/brown/orange color.


During the amphora production process, the body of the vessel is spun first then left to dry. Once dry, large coils of clay are added to form the neck, rim and handles. With all the details complete, the  porous vessel is ready for the makers use. 

Amphorae have historically been used to transport various products - both liquid and dry - but have most popularly been used for wine (we think for good reason). The vessel assists in the fermentation and aging process for both red and white wines and can be buried in the ground to help regulate the overall temperature. 


Clay vessels of all kinds were the golden standard of winemaking in ancient Rome and Greece - not only because it predated wooden storage, but also because clay was easy to produce and took less time to create than wood. While clay vessels have many positive attributes. Wine Folly explains amphorae beautifully: “The porosity of the clay increases the oxygen exposure to wines while they age. Oxygen accelerates flavor development which includes softening tannins and increasing aromas of nuts, baked fruit, and chocolate.” However, the negative attributes of the amphorae ultimately lead to its downfall - its overall weight and breakability made it increasingly impractical to transport as trade developed and increased. With that, the age of resilient wooden barrels was born.

Wooden barrels, especially oak, became more and more popular over the centuries not only because of their strength and transportability, but because of the flavors and tannins the oak brought to the wines that it carried.

Oak wood is made up of a multitude of complex chemical compounds - each contributing flavor or textural notes to red and white wines. It’s by aging wines in oak barrels that you are able to experience flavors of vanilla, tea, tobacco and the textural “mouth feel” of hydrolysable tannins.


As wine making methods became more and more advanced, wooden barrel aging and stainless steel aging became industry standard for making some of the most popular style of wines on the market…

So why bring back the use of an amphora?

Well, because great wine is the sum of many details. Not a simple linear sequence: farming, fermentation, aging, and bottling. We are peering deeper into the sequence to find more... history, innovation, context. To our minds, this amphora is a tool in that continuum. 

We can't help but get excited thinking about how this 200-gallon clay vessel that we'll be fermenting fruit in this fall is just how the Etruscan's would have made wine in the 7th century BC!


What are we going to be making, you might ask?

The answer is: Ramato! That is, skin-contact Pinot Grigio.

When we say Pinot Grigio, many of you are picturing a straightforward white wine. However, Pinot Grigio has grey/copper colored skins which, when the juice is soaked with the skins, gives the wine a deep amber color. How many of you have tasted our Alius, or Seeds & Skins?

Italian winemakers have used Pinot Grigio to make Ramato in amphora for millenia. This project is a perfect way for us to put a modern, local spin on an ancient tradition. And we're excited to do just that.

Stay tuned for more!


Summer In A Can

Summer In A Can

We’re on a mission to make delicious, well-crafted wine more accessible. And we believe people deserve to enjoy wines they love with people they love, anywhere. 

Accessibility is one thing; the palate is another. We’ll settle for nothing less than delicious, fun, and Maryland to the core. Our vision came to life on November 1, 2017 when we became the first winery in the Mid-Atlantic to can our wines. And not just any wines – wines that are true to our principles: 100% local & natural. All the grapes are grown right here in Maryland, fermented on our farm with native wild yeast and canned on-site without filtration or "makeup."

In a recent story on The Vintner Project, Lenn Thompson wrote: “They [Old Westminster Winery] are canning some of the best canned wine you’ll find anywhere. They are constantly trying new things and seeing what “sticks.” Maryland is a state on the rise in the wine world, and [winemaker] Lisa (with her family) is one of the people leading the way.”

Our vision for the new cans remains the same.  These wines are intended for true wine-lovers on the go – living life to the fullest and enjoying delicious and expressive wines along the way.

Here’s a rundown on our new lineup of wild, unfiltered canned wines: 

Nitro Rosé (patent pending)

This revolutionary nitro-infused sparkling rosé is a blend of 58% Syrah, 30% Chambourcin, 6% Malbec, and 6% Chardonnay. This wine is the first of its kind in the world – born from a desire to play with the texture of the bubbles in sparkling wine. It’s carbonated with CO2 in tank and then receives a dose of nitrogen directly in the can – resulting in softer, frothier texture. It’s characterized by aromas of red plum, red currant, black cherry, fresh cut grass and tarragon.  Bright acid plays nicely with the creamy nitro texture.  On the palate, notes of cranberries, wild herbs and flowers.  Pair this wine with anything off the grill on a hot summer day.

Pip & Berry 

This sparkling rosé wine & cider blend is comprised of 30% Merlot, 30% Chambourcin, and 40% Stayman Winesap apples. That’s right: wine + barrel-fermented apple cider. It’s bright, refreshing and bubbly. This is a collaboration of locally grown fruits, fermented with native yeast, blended creatively and canned without fining or filtration! This mashup offers aromas of tart cranberry, red cherry, pomegranate, and fresh yellow and red apples. On the palate, the fruit stays red with a clearer presence of the crisp and clean cider.  Pair with sharp cheese and cannonballs in the deep end!


This refreshing, slightly off-dry (4.5g/L for those keeping score) white wine is a blend of 67% Chardonnay, 28% Vidal Blanc, and 5% Muscat. This wine offers aromas of juicy peach, mandarin orange, white nectarine and yellow pear.  On the palate, lemon pith and peel, drippy Clementine, a sunny beach and red apples.  This wine offers a broad and full palate with a creamy texture.  Pair with steamed blue crabs or with a campfire and good friends.

Farm Fizz 

This mouthwatering sparkling white wine is a blend of 70% Chardonnay, 25% Chardonel, and 5% Vidal Blanc. This wine offers aromas of lemon peel, sea spray, creamy lees aromas, green mango, tart guava, and spring lily.  Bright lime and lemon juice upfront on the palate, with green apple peel, wonderfully fizzy texture and a long mineral citrus peel finish.  Pair with summer corn on the cob with butter and fresh grilled zucchini.

Cask & Cluster 

This bold barrel-aged red wine is a blend of 70% Cabernet Franc and 30% Chambourcin. With aromas of dark ripe plum, red and black raspberry, tart blackberry and the forest floor, this wine showcases beautiful acidity in the form of cranberry and white cherries with moderate, elegant tannins on the palate.  Pair with pork or beef skewers fresh from the grill, and enjoy with your friends and family.

Nitro Rosé. Pip & Berry. Crush. Farm Fizz. Cask & Cluster!

These new cans are coming to a wine shop near you (list below) on Friday, June 22!

Here's a list of our partners in other states:

DC & VA: Distributed by Siema Wines

NY, NJ, PA: Distributed by MFW Wine Co.

MA: Distributed by Mise Wines

NC & SC: Distributed by Advintage

CA: Distributed by Revel Wine

Follow us on Facebook & Instagram for breaking news and release info.

Don't see your favorite local shop on our list? Let us know!

Don't see your favorite local shop on our list? Let us know!

East Coast Biodynamic Workshop

East Coast Biodynamic Workshop

Some things about a vineyard site can’t be easily improved. Like soil type and topography. But there are certainly things that can be enriched – like biodiversity and soil resiliency – through thoughtful farming practices. Such as biodynamics.

Biodynamics is the original organic agricultural movement. It treats soil fertility, plant growth, and animals as ecologically interrelated tasks. I wrote more about that here.

On July 27-28, we’re hosting the first east coast vineyard-specific biodynamic workshop. 

To help guide our program, we're welcoming Joseph Brinkley to Maryland. Joseph is a viticulturist, biodynamic specialist and the director of vineyard operations at Bonterra – the nation’s largest organic winery and Wine Enthusiast’s 2016 American Winery of the Year.

We met Joseph a little more than a year ago when we welcomed him to our team to help guide the development of Burnt Hill.

We’re thrilled to have Joseph share his vast knowledge with east coast vignerons.

BIODYNAMICS FOR VINEYARDS: Vineyard Management Practices in Relation to Soil Health & the Biodynamic Preparations is a two-day workshop which includes lectures and field work focusing on overall soil health and a balanced farm system.

Lectures and experiential learning will focus on overall soil health and a balanced farm system, which can be achieved through the following areas: cover cropping, compost, biodiversity, and biodynamic field sprays.

  • Cover Crops: The four primary plant types (legume, grass/small grain, brassica, flower) and the value of diverse plantings.
  • Compost: Using high quality ‘ingredients’ and biodynamic preparations (BD 502-507) to enliven soil. Sourcing the best materials from your locale and the proper way of mixing and handling these materials to ensure that your compost is of the highest quality. 
  • Biodiversity: Increasing plant and animal biodiversity with animals, trees, meadows, etc. – while creating functionality and beauty with multiple layers of benefit.
  • BD Field Sprays: The biodynamic preparations and their ideal timings, stirring, and application methods in order to bring overall health to the farm.

You’ll come away with practical information to incorporate into your own vineyard.

Save The Dates! Friday, July 27 - Saturday, July 28, 2018, 9am to 5pm each day.

This is a hands-on workshop – with only 40 spaces available.

Cost is $200 ($150 for MWA & MGGA members)

Cru Club Wine Release - May 2018

Cru Club Wine Release - May 2018

Lisa and Joey sit down to talk about the exciting May 2018 Cru Club Allocation:

  • 2017 Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2017 Muscat
  • Rev Fourth Edition

Join them as they discuss all the nuances of nose, palette, and pairings!

What is Cru? It is a grade of wine or vineyard of recognized quality. Old Westminster always extends an open invitation to join The CRU, a community that enjoys wines with a sense of place. Members help blend a special red wine called Cru Cuvée each year -- wine blended by members for members. For more information on becoming a cru club member, click here.

Cru Cuvée Blending Event 2018

Cru Cuvée Blending Event 2018

Check out this behind-the-scenes video of our Cru Cuvée Blending Event held right here at Old Westminster Winery.

"Cru" is a grade of wine or vineyard, especially one of recognized quality. Old Westminster invites you to join "The CRU"  -- a community of members who enjoy wines with a sense of place.

One of the benefits of membership is that members are invited to help blend a special red wine called Cru Cuvée once a year. It’s wine blended by club members for club members.

Other member advantages include 10% discount on all wine purchases, up to four complimentary tastings at the winery each visit, preferred access to small production wines, and of course, annual "En primeur" tastings.

For more information on becoming a cru club member, click here.

Our Cans: Delicious, Fun, and Maryland to the Core

Our Cans: Delicious, Fun, and Maryland to the Core

I have to admit – we had a moment of apprehension when we first thought to introduce canned wine into the marketplace. But we also recognized the potential for making delicious wine more accessible and unencumbered – for life’s adventures – and we believe people deserve to enjoy wines they love with people they love, anywhere. 

Accessibility is one thing. The palate is another. And we settled for nothing less than delicious, fun, and Maryland to the core. Our vision came to life on November 1, 2017, we became the first winery in the Mid-Atlantic to can wine. And not just any wine. Wines that are true to our principles: 100% local & natural. All the grapes are grown right here in Maryland, fermented on our farm with wild yeast and canned on-site without filtration or "makeup."

Fast forward four months to our second canning run and our core belief remains the same: these wines are intended for true wine-lovers on the go – living life to the full and enjoying delicious and expressive wines along the way. And I have to admit that these new gems exceeded even my own expectations. 

Here’s a rundown on our new lineup of wild, unfiltered canned wines: 

Farmer Fizz Rosé

This delectable sparkling rosé is a blend of Maryland-grown Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chambourcin, and Petit Verdot. This wine is characterized by wonderfully fine bubbles, pleasant red fruit aromas, refreshingly light texture and crisp acidity. This Sparkling Rosé pairs with nearly everything! Think oysters on the half shelf, chargrilled salmon, sushi and anything on the Sunday brunch menu! 

Raw Rosé

This mouthwatering rosé is a blend of Maryland-grown Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chambourcin, and Petit Verdot. Characterized by vibrant aromas of cherry, rhubarb, watermelon and rose petals, pleasantly soft texture and zippy acidity. Pair this wine with barbecued ribs, lobster roll, Chesapeake bay crab cakes, pan seared scallops, or simply enjoy it on the patio with friends! 

Vine & Vigor

This refreshing dry white wine is a blend of Maryland-grown Chardonnay, Viognier, Chardonel and Vidal Blanc. This wine offers aromas of golden delicious apples, mandarin orange peel, orange starburst, white flowers and mineral notes. On the palate, lively texture, bracing acidity and a lingering finish. Pair this wine with grilled fish, a slice of watermelon, and anything with fresh avocados, tomatoes, onions, olives and feta cheese. 


This delicious semi-sweet white wine is a blend of Maryland-grown Chardonnay, Vidal Blanc and Muscat. This wine offers aromas of peaches, pears, mango and other tropical fruit with a touch of white flowers; baby’s breath and hydrangeas. On the palate, candied oranges, lemon-lime soda, green apples and soft, silky texture. Pair this wine with anything from the Chesapeake Bay – think crab cakes, oysters, shrimp salad, or sunny days by the water. On a sweeter side, enjoy it with desserts with fresh fruits, honey, crepes, tarts or even bread pudding. 

Farmer Fizz Rosé. Raw Rosé. Vine & Vigor. Bloom!

These new cans are coming to a wine shop near you on April 1! #nojoke

Follow us on Facebook & Instagram for breaking news and release info.

2018 Bottling Day!

2018 Bottling Day!

Rise and shine! It's Spring 2018 Bottling Day at Old Westminster Winery! 

Ever wonder how they get ships in bottles? So do we. And we have no idea. But we can tell you how we get this year's releases into our bottles so you can enjoy these wines all season long! 

Join us -- take a peak into our bottling process -- it'll give you a deeper appreciation for all that goes into each and every bottle of delicious Old Westminster wine. 

The sparkling wine you’ve never heard of.

The sparkling wine you’ve never heard of.

The sparkling wine you’ve never heard of.

In keeping with our love of putting local spins on classic European traditions – and our love of bubbles – we're making col fondo this spring.

That’s right. Col fondo!  

Col fondo is the O.G. of Prosecco

Prosecco is a sparkling Italian wine best served chilled and enjoyed on the patio with friends. It’s a ubiquitous go-to.

Today, most Prosecco is unfortunately mass-produced in a tank-fermented style designed to satisfy the modern demand for clear, fresh, easy bubbles. It’s become a generally homogeneous commodity manufactured by big firms. A real shame considering what it once was.

Col fondo is the real Prosecco. It’s the traditional, rustic sparkling wine made by Italian farmers for centuries prior to the tank method. And we think it’s prime for a renaissance.


Our recent pétillant naturel (pét nat) wines have opened a path to new ideas. If you haven’t heard of pét nat, imagine Champagne’s hipster cousin. On summer vacation. It’s a naturally sparkling wine that’s handmade, raw, fizzy, a mix of clouds and sun, and thirst-quenchingly delicious. We wrote all about it last year and you can get that article here.

Experimentation is at the heart of our progression as winemakers. We set out on our journey simply imitating wines we liked. Over time, we began to develop our own style. And now, we’re evolving beyond it.

Our success with pét nat has inspired us to a new challenge: col fondo.

Col fondo, Maryland-style

If you love sparkling wine and authentic products, you’ll adore col fondo. And you’ll have a chance to get your hands on some real soon – Old Westminster style.  

Col fondo (“with its bottom” or “with sediment”), is an unfiltered, buzzy, effervescent bottle-fermented expression of Prosecco. And yep, it’s deliciously dirty.

With its second fermentation occurring in the bottle, col fondo (like Champagne) is drier and way more complex than most modern Prosecco. Unlike Champage, col fondo isn’t riddled and disgorged and never receives a dosage. Like pét nat, it’s served with sediment still in the bottom of the bottle.

It too will prove to be a summer fave. So make sure you stay in tune to get the low-down on our progress and coming release dates.

Something magical happens when history and tradition merge with locality and innovation. Like pét nat. And now, like col fondo.


Our CANS Featured in Baltimore Style

Our CANS Featured in Baltimore Style

Sometimes it’s good to break from old norms. Sometimes it makes sense. When access to great wine is hindered by “we’ve always done it that way,” we have to ask ourselves, why wouldn’t we fix that?

It’s 2018 for crying out loud.  

Like say for instance you’re going hiking or on a romantic picnic. Or camping. Or a day at the beach. You want exceptional wine for the occasion, yes? Of course. But all of the paraphernalia gets to be a hassle for those settings. Corkscrews and stemware aren’t always convenient. And when the occasion is right, why allow anything to come between you and perfectly delicious wine?

So we came up with a counterintuitive solution.


Since no winery in Maryland – or Virginia, or Pennsylvania – has ever canned wine before, of course we had to challenge the why of that. So we got busy making delicious wines accessible, travel-friendly, and ready to enjoy – anytime, anywhere.

But this isn't just about cans. Our cans are for wine lovers, adventurous souls, and those who seek out unique experiences. Canned wine has been done elsewhere before, but they're mostly mass-produced wines.

So we wanted to can wines that inspire you. So we did.

Jessica Gregg, in the latest edition of Baltimore Style, puts it this way:

“The perfect pairing for winter bonfires, summer picnics and fall tailgates has made its way to local shelves – wine in a can. Old Westminster Winery, the family-run vineyard that began bottling wine in 2013 and quickly made a name for itself, is now the first in the Mid-Atlantic to uncork, literally, this trend. ‘We don’t think wine should be reserved for dinner parties, celebratory gatherings or restaurant experiences,’ vigneron and winery founder Drew Baker says. ‘Glass bottles, corkscrews and stemware have all too often hindered us from drinking the wines we want to drink. We felt it was time to change that.’ Old Westminster offers three canned choices: Farmer Fizz, a sparkling Chardonnay; Carbonic, a Cabernet Franc; and Seeds & Skins, a skin-fermented Pinot Gris. Within a week of hitting the market, the cans were sold out on the winery’s website, but are available at select wine and liquor stores (STYLE staff found it Kenilworth Wine & Spirits). More local love: Baltimore artist Rebecca Smith designed the labels and Elkridge-based River City Cannery put the product in its portable containers. We predict something this fun and flavorful will change up the menu matching, and for once, send diners for the right foods to pair with their wine.”

Get the full story here:

Blending Day at Old Westminster Winery

Blending Day at Old Westminster Winery

Blending is a way to create wines that are more delicious than the sum of its parts. The reason we blend is to create distinctive wines that are balanced, reflect the vineyard and vintage, and of course, are a pleasure to drink.

When we sat down to the blending table this past weekend, there were four of us: Lisa, Ashli, Lucien Guillemet (our enological consultant) and me. Lucien is the winemaker at Chateau Boyd-Cantenac, a Grand Cru Classé Château in the Margaux appellation of Bordeaux, France. He visits Maryland twice a year to taste, deliberate, and blend. His expertise acts as a sounding board – multiple skilled palates are a key to the successful blending process. 

In this video, Ashli takes us behind the scenes of the blending process at Old Westminster Winery! Are you excited to taste these new wines?