Upper Shore Wineries Making an Impact

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Dove Valley’s variety of award winning wines adjacent to Terrapin Station Winery at Tea Party Wine Village. photo courtesy loblolly.biz

by Joe L. L. Yates

With the end of Maryland wine week this past Sunday, it might merit reflection for some who maybe tried Maryland or Eastern Shore wines for the first time and realized they might be holding onto some unintended pre-conceptions. From a popular standpoint, the ‘Judgement of Paris’ in 1976, wherein several Napa Valley wineries trounced certain well established French wines at a blind tasting, first opened in earnest the market for American wine. Since, it has been a steady cascade of wines and grapes from more and more regions around the United States and the world.

In all fairness, folks have been growing grapes in Maryland way longer than those people out in the Napa Valley. As far back as 1648, enology has comprised a part of the tapestry of Maryland agriculture but, as some may be aware, divides of climate, pests, and appropriate know-how to get the European grapes to grow pushed back more substantial offerings in Maryland for a few hundred more years.

Currently the Maryland wine industry is in the throes of explosive growth. Since 2000, over 30 wineries have started production in Maryland, to a total of 54, alongside an over 200% increase in grape production acreage in that same time frame.

On Kent island, Mark Cascia Vineyards recently won a Reader’s Choice award from the Capital Gazette as best local winery. Photo courtesy loblolly.biz.

As East Coast wineries have been gaining popularity and reputation for quality, the current hub for east coast prestige has begun to center around the New York Fingerlakes region. Cecil County wineries, Dove Valley and Terrapin Station have each managed to walk away from the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition with a number of honors—Dove Valley with Bronze for a handful of wines, a Red Blend, their Cabernet Franc, a Late Harvest White blend, Vignoles, and their Pinot Noir and Terrapin Station with Silver this year for their Shiraz, and a Bronze for their Traminette.

One of the best things about Maryland wine, however, is the variety. With three separate wine growing regions and a lot of innovators, we see many Maryland vineyards growing everything from the more traditionally popular, e.g. Merlot, Chardonnay, and Cab Sav’s, to some less-heard-of, e.g. Vidal Blanc, Viognier, Traminette, or Barbera.

Indeed, many ascendant American wineries are employing more liberal blends than ever before as well, and Maryland’s no exception. On Kent island, Mark Cascia Vineyards recently won a Reader’s Choice award from the Capital Gazette as best local winery, and among their most highly touted offerings is Queen Anne’s Reserve, a red blend of no less than five different varietals.

Given all this, maybe it should come as no surprise that, as many will have already noted, Kent County has its very own winery to contribute to the rapidly burgeoning panoply of viticulture in Maryland—Crow Vineyard & Winery. Featured recently at Chestertown’s Imperial Hotel at the choice of known discerning sommelier, Joe Dolce, Crow’s Rosé became one of the first Maryland wines carried at a Chestertown venue.

Joe Dolce, Imperial Hotel general manager. , Crow’s Rosé became one of the first Maryland wines carried at a Chestertown venue. Photo courtesy Loblolly.biz

If one of the first, it certainly won’t be the last as more people overcome some popular preconceptions, think how nice it will be at your favorite restaurant to enjoy a quality wine from just down the road.

Be on the lookout for more “shoreVines & Wines are Growing” articles in the next few weeks!

For more info on Maryland wines and vineyards check-out these sites:
http://www.shorevines.com/
http://www.marylandwine.com/home

Joe Yates is a Washington College alumnus, and current associate at Loblolly Productions.

Letters to Editor

  1. Thanks for mentioning the many awards that Dove Valley vineyards and winery have received. Harry Hepbron and his family have created a wonderful community asset in Rising Sun (in Cecil County) with their winery. They are always putting on special events for charity at their beautiful farm and tasting room. And the wine is fabulous. They’ve won many awards in the Governors Cup for best Maryland wine, as well as beating out international competition at other contests. Personal favorit is their Vignoles.

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