The Terroirist

Old Westminster Winery gets my vote for the most exciting and dynamic wine producer in Maryland. This Old Line State winery is a family affair that dates back to 2008, when Jay and Virginia Baker (no relation) decided to plant a vineyard in the rocky soils of their Carroll County farm.

Today, they produce a wide range of whites, reds and sparkling wines that will smash any negative stereotypes you may have about wine in Maryland.

The Baker children (all in their 20s) have accomplished an impressive amount in a relatively brief period of time. Lisa crafts the wines, Drew manages the vineyard and Ashli heads up the tasting room and event planning. Together, they’re pushing the limits of Maryland wine’s potential, and turning quite a few heads (including mine) in the process.

Their 2014 Malbec was recently awarded Best in Show at the 2016 Maryland Comptroller’s Cup, and several of their other wines took home awards in this state competition.

I recently tasted a few wines from Old Westminster. These were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2015 Old Westminster Winery Albariño Petillant Naturel Home Vineyard – Maryland, Central Piedmont, Linganore
Light gold color with that pleasant light spritz. Smells of lemons, limes, pineapples and apricot with floral perfume, musk and a scent of raw almond. On the palate, this is so pleasantly vibrant with subtle bubbles, bright acidity and a light but somewhat waxy texture. I get flavors of green apple, apricot and melon, but there’s a deep floral presence in this wine, like perfume, cut flower stems and cucumber water. Hints of tea and almond. Wine nerd level 11! But the deliciousness factor is right there, too. This is Maryland’s first Pet-Nat from and it’s exciting stuff. (88 points)

N.V. Old Westminster Winery Greenstone Third Edition South Mountain – Maryland, Central Piedmont, Linganore
Pale straw color. Needs to warm up show it’s full aromatic display, but the apricot, white peach and lime fruit starts to jump out — I get a moderate amount of richness (honey, sweet flowers) from the Viognier with a hint herbal spice from the Sauvignon Blanc, and the combination of these grapes is quite nice. A bouncy, plump texture on the palate, the mouthfeel is great in the way it balances out with crisp acidity. Apricots and melon mix with bright limes, the fruit is vibrant but juicy without ever being too heavy or honeyed, like some mid-Atlantic Viogniers. Some white tea and honeycomb combine with a sense of river rocks and smashed stones. Quite complex, definitely balanced, totally delicious. 67% Viognier and 43% Sauvignon Blanc fermented in stainless steel. (87 points)

2014 Old Westminster Winery Black – Maryland, Central Piedmont, Linganore
Dark, dark purple colored (hence the name?). Smells of saucy plums, black cherry cola, blackberries, there’s also this violet, sweet clove and potting soil element. Medium-plus-bodied, surprising tannic structure but it’s not too tight, pleasantly bright acidity – this wine is harmonious and balanced. The fruit is ripe but tart (plum, black cherry, wild blueberry), and I get notes of spiced coffee, clove and anise. Integrated elements of cherry wood and cedar. This really opens up and gets more and more exciting with air, and it’ll surely develop in the cellar. A blend of 38% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 25% Petit Verdot and 12% Syrah, aged 18 months in French oak. 13.5% alcohol. (88 points)

The wines are available at a handful of retailers in Maryland and DCand through the producer’s wine club. The tasting room in Westminster, Maryland, is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.