Maryland wineries are the same driving distance as the ones I visit in Virginia, yet somehow I don’t visit them nearly as often. But I really should – Maryland’s wine scene is growing fast; every time I look at my map I find a new winery had popped up. Such was the case with Windridge Vineyards.
Windridge is west of Gaithersburg, somewhere along that invisible boundary where the burbs turns into farm country. It’s also a very new winery, opening in July 2019.
But ‘new’ is relative here; they’ve had vineyards for a while and only recently took the plunge to open a full-fledged winery. The current tasting room is a temporary setup while they build their permanent one. Fortunately that didn’t stop a friend & I from grabbing a seat inside while doing some wine ‘research’.
With the exception of a Riesling, all of Windridge’s wines were made with estate fruit or purchased in Maryland. Currently they have 27 acres of vines planted, including Syrah and Albariño. It excites me to see wineries planting vines that I don’t see that often; Albariño especially is well suited to the local terroir.
I was particularly taken with the Cabernet Franc and their Seneca red-blend, but across the board I enjoyed the lineup. And if this wasn’t enough, winemaker Nick Maliska poured a sample of their 2019 Cabernet Franc juice taken from a barrel. 2019 is going to be a fantastic year up and down the east coast, and Maryland wines from that vintage will be outstanding.
What I tried:
2018 Rose: Merlot/Cab Sauv/Cab Franc blend, strawberry in color and strawberry-watermelon notes on the palate.
2017 & 2018 Chardonnays: I enjoyed both, but for different reasons. The 2017 had some nice lemon notes, while 2018 had a surprisingly long finish. Although this may seem counter-intuitive, I think I liked the 2018 better even though it was from a horrible growing year.
2017 Chambourcin: This was a full-flavored Chambourcin, without becoming a fruit bomb. Also had some pepper notes.
2017 Ithaca Reserve (Chambourcin): Less pepper and more fruit-forward.
Chardonel: I’m not always a fan of this hybrid but I liked this one quite a bit. It was off dry and its acidity gave it a nice ‘fresh’ quality.
Seneca (red blend): Earthy, mushroom on the nose. Some acidity and fruit that appeared in the finish.
2017 Cabernet Franc Reserve: This was on the lighter side of the Cab Franc spectrum, with some fruit notes.
2016 “The Old Line” port-style: Strong bourbon notes, which I LOVE in my port-styles. One of the nicer port-styles I’ve enjoyed recently. Made with Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.