Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Old Westminster Winery & Vineyard Shines Spotlight on Maryland Wine

Old Westminster Cab FrancHaven’t sipped any wine from the Old Line State? These three wines changed our outlook.

Seeking To Redefine American Wine

It’s been called the most dynamic winery in Maryland. At Old Westminster Winery, every step from vineyard to cellar is done by hand. With a focus on sustainable farming, the winery is creating exciting wines that are flattening any negative preconceptions about wines from the Mid-Atlantic region.

Keep up with the latest. Follow us on Instagram!

Winegrowers on the East Coast face conditions that make viticulture much more daunting than their counterparts on the West Coast. Warm, humid air and warm waters of the Gulf Steam circulate northward, creating ideal conditions for plant disease and fungi to develop. What might seem effortless in California or Oregon, requires deft skill and supreme attention to detail in the vineyard.

During a recent Wine Studio educational program, we had a chance to taste three Old Westminster wines and hear from vigneron Drew Baker.


Delicious Wines And Care For The Planet

“The Mid-Atlantic is a land of opportunity without any historical obligations to blind our instincts,” said Baker. “We’re simply trying to make delicious wines and care for our planet.”

Never Miss A Beat – Follow Vino-Sphere On Facebook

Old Westminster released its first wine in 2013. Today they produce 2,500 cases annually with half coming from their Home Vineyard and the other coming from neighboring vineyards in Maryland. That allows it to reflect the state’s varied geology its wine.

We explored the wines of Old Westminster by tasting their 2017 Home Vineyard Cabernet Franc, 2018 Heirloom and Vin Doux Naturel. Even going in with no preconceptions, we were surprised by the great quality.

Old Westminster lets nature flow through its wines. Wild yeast fermentations, sparing additions and minimal intervention are the rule. We opened the Home Vineyard Cabernet Franc while on a short vacation into the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. The Cab Franc was as wild and untamed as the nearby Sharp Top Mountain. Unfiltered and unfined, the wine had added depth and texture with robust flavors of cranberry and herbs.

Emerging Flavors Of Maryland Wine

IMG_20190625_204343Not only is Old Westminster producing outstanding natural wine, but is taking a leadership role as host to the first Burnt Hill Natural Wine Festival, which gathered winemakers from DC, Maryland, Virginia during the summer solstice and featured 100 natural wines from around the world. The hillside land of Burnt Hill was bought by the Bakers in 2016.

Three years later, 30,000 vines of Native American and Old World origin have been planted. The vineyards are being farmed using biodynamic and organic practices.

The 2018 Heirloom is a wild fermentation white blend of 77% Chardonnay, 12% Albariño and 11% Muscat. It’s a flavor explosion of sour lemon, tangerine, riffling acidity and nutmeg. This is an eye-opening white that should wake up the stodgy about the potential of Maryland wine.

Flexing their creativity muscles, Old Westminster also produces a Vin Doux Naturel. A Vin Doux is a fortified wine where the fermentation process is halted by the addition of spirits – in this case, estate brandy. Stopping the fermentation prematurely means less sugar is converted to alcohol, and so you have a nicely sweet wine.

The Vin Doux is a pale yellow in color, but the flavors are anything but weak. A delicious honeycomb flavor prevails with notes of citrus and earth. This oak aged wine is rich and packs a punch with 16.5% ABV. Best savored with a sweet dessert.
Why make the trip to California? Outstanding wine awaits in Maryland.

No comments: