Owner(s): Tom Shelton
Winemaker: Tom Shelton
Open to Public
Wed-Sat 12 to 6; Sun 12:30 to 6
3155 Noble Farm Rd; Eden, MD 21822
Bordeleau Vineyards and Winery Profile
Written by Brian—Jul 5, 2017
On the eastern shore of Maryland, there are several wineries that one hears about regularly. Bordeleau Vineyards and Winery is one of them. Although the venue is quite lovely and an occasional music event is hosted in the tasting room, I believe it is the quality of wine that drives the reputation and drives visitors to the tasting room.
Owner Tom Shelton began planting grapes in 1999 and today has over 13 acres under vine in addition to apples, peaches, strawberries and blackberries. According to Shelton, it was only after he “determined that [he] could produce excellent wines from fruit grown on the farm [that he] applied for a winery license.” The vines were seven years old by the time a winery license was granted and Bordeleau sold wine wholesale and at festivals for another two years until the tasting room opened in 2008.
Only estate fruit is used to produce the 4000 to 5000 cases Bordeleau produces annually. Acreage and production levels are unlikely to increase. Objective is quality not quantity and the winery has certainly developed a reputation for excellent red wines.
One thing to note about the wine is that the bottles do not bear a vintage, but rather a lot number. This is because, Shelton explained, they use “selected barrels from multiple vintages [which allows them] to make more consistent wines. Typically a red wine is made up of barrels from three vintages and average time in the barrel exceeds 24 months.” The stated goal, according to Shelton, “is that any new wine bottled must be better than the previous Lot. This can only be achieved by using wines from multiple vintages.”
I sampled about a half dozen Bordeleau wines during my visit. I will say that, while the winery may have built its reputation on red wine, the whites are also pretty spectacular. All were well made, but the Reserve Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc were absolute standouts. I’m not typically a fan of oaked Chardonnay, but I will make an exception for this perfectly executed white done in French oak and sporting butterscotch notes in a very rich wine. The perfect balance of the Sauv Blanc with its citrus notes and crisp finish made it my favorite among the whites.
Reds, however, are definitely the main event. The Cabernet Franc was on the lighter side, but displayed ripe fruit and a bit of spice in the finish with no green notes. The Petit Verdot was another standout. It is a big wine sporting a lot of red fruit and a beautiful finish. While all of the reds kicked serious butt, the Malbec was my favorite overall. It is tough to find a good Malbec in the Mid Atlantic, but Bordeleau has cracked the code. It is a medium bodied wine that has brilliant fruit notes on the nose and palate. Ahh… and the finish is something to admire.
It is no wonder that Bordeleau has a popular following. Shelton points out that “more than 50 percent of visitors are from out of the area and many come from surrounding states.” Its location on the Wicomico River allows some of those customers to regularly visit by boat. Oh, and in addition to the great tasting room and grounds, the price point of even of the top wines is quite reasonable.
Stopping in a Bordeleau Vineyards and Winery is kind of a no-brainer. I can’t say enough good things about them. If you want to join a wine club, this is one of Maryland’s top producers. You simply can’t go wrong. If you have not visited, you need to. After you stop in, please let me know what you think.
Owner(s): Rob and Thea Hall
Winemaker: Michael Zollo
Open to Public
Tue to Sun 12 to 6
942 Glebe Rd, Earleville, MD 21919
phone: (302) 547-6022
Broken Spoke Winery Profile
Written by Brian—May 29, 2018
The area around Chestertown on Maryland’s Eastern Shore is emerging as one of the state’s important wine sub regions. One recent addition of note is Broken Spoke Vineyard & Winery. I recently had an opportunity to stop in and I am happy to report that this is another producer of note.
Owners Rob and Thea Hall spent 18 years competing in driving competitions and the tasting room is a converted horse barn that once housed large ponies. The name “Broken Spoke” is an obvious reference to their sport.
In pursuit of another passion, the Halls planted three acres grapes on their Earleville property. In their first year, winemaker Michael Zollo bottled a modest 400 cases. Future plans included planting another five acres of fruit and reaching 1000 cases of total production. Rob Hall told me that 2000 cases is the likely long-term limit.
The winemaking philosophy is to produce wines that will appeal to a range of palates. Much of the wine is off dry with minimal oak influence. All of the grapes will be grown on the estate or sourced locally. As of this writing, the Halls are growing Barbera, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Traminette. Lemberger and Chenin Blanc will soon be added to that list.
I tasted through a range of Broken Spoke offerings. All were well crafted. I sampled a pair of Vidal Blancs and a Traminette, but by far the most interesting white was the Pinot Gris. Despite its two percent residual sugar, it came across as bone dry and perfectly balanced.
There were not many reds on the menu, but the Barbera was showing well. I found it to be fruit forward with nice acidity. It is certainly an approachable and food-friendly wine.
Broken Spoke Vineyard & Winery is part of the newly formed Rivers to Canal Wine Corridor and the Chesapeake Wine Trail. Both of these contain several wineries of note. So if you have not explored this region, you need to make an effort to get over there. I recommend that Broken Spoke be one of your stops. After your visit, please let me know what you think.
Owner(s): Pallares Family
Winemaker: John Levenberg
Open to Public
No available hours
8355 Broad Neck Rd, Chestertown, MD 21620
phone: (443) 203-8023
Casa Carmen Wines Profile
No available resources
Owner(s): Brenda Dedrick
Winemaker: Jacques van der Vyver
Open to Public
Fri-Sun 11 to 7
237 Bohemia Manor Farm Ln; Chesapeake City, MD 21915
Chateau Bu-De Bohemia Manor Farm Profile
Written by Brian—May 8, 2017
This may be one of the best wineries you’ve never heard of. It was completely off my radar until I stopped in. What I discover (from a wine perspective) was earthshaking.
Historically, the estate that now contains Chateau Bu-De Winery and Vineyard was the homestead of Augustine Herrman. In 1660, it became the largest parcel of land ever granted by Lord Baltimore. Today it is a historical landmark that contains the remnants of the Harmon home and a commanding view of the Bohemia River that is one of the major estuaries feeding into the Chesapeake Bay.
Bohemia Manor Farm is only a fraction of the historic tract, but it was Brenda Dedrick’s vision that transformed a piece of her 440-acre estate into Chateau Bu-De. No expense has been spared to create a state-of-the-art winery. Forty acres of vines were planted. A climate-controlled visitor center is under construction to replace the 1919 barn currently used as a tasting room. Jacques van der Vyver was hired as a resident winemaker and John Levinburg was retained as a wine director and consultant. It is a winning formula that is paying big dividends in terms of customer experience and wine quality.
The winery is still pretty new. The tasting room only opened in 2016. At the time of my visit, Chateau Bu-De was producing about 2500 cases annually, but they have the capacity to make between 5000 and 7000 cases. As recently planted vines mature, volume may increase, but the emphasis is on quality and not quantity.
I met with van der Vyver and tasted through a few of the offerings. Van der Vyver is from a winemaking family in South Africa. After arriving in Maryland he interned at Boordy Vineyards prior to taking a main role at Chateau Bu-De.
There is a bit of experimentation taking place at Chateau Bu-De as the winemaker looks for a style that is uniquely Maryland. We tasted a Sauvignon Blanc that showed nice lime and grapefruit notes without being overly acidic and a lightly oaked, mid-weight Grüner Veltliner made with Pennsylvania fruit. Oak is not a typical feature of Grüner, but that is one of the innovations being tested.
We also tasted Merlot, Cabernet Franc and a red blend. All were exceptional. The Cabernet Sauvignon spends 60 days on its skins to develop tannins before being barreled. The complexity of the red wines is extraordinary and it will be interesting to follow this winery more closely over time to see how the reds develop and the styles that are eventually adopted. These are still early days for Chateau Bu-De, but their program and the willingness to push the established boundaries seems to be a recipe for greatness.
Chateau Bu-De is one of a large number of destinations on Maryland's Eastern Shore. It is easily accessible from many of the tourist destinations and it is clustered with several other good Maryland wineries. The proximity to Baltimore, DC and Philadelphia also make this an attractive weekend drive.
It is just a matter of time before the larger wine-drinking public discovers Chateau Bu-De. I am a strong advocate and recommend adding this winery to your short list. Stop in before the crowds descend. When you do, please let me know what you think.
Owner(s): Jack Lord and Kathryn Danko-Lord
Winemaker: Kathryn Danko-Lord
Open to Public
Feb-May Sat-Sun 12 to 6
Jun-Dec Fri-Sun 12 to 6
9031 Whaleyville Rd; Whaleyville, Md 21872
Costa Ventosa Winery & Vineyard Profile
Written by Brian May 29, 2017
Costa Ventosa was an accidental stop on a recent trip to Delaware and Eastern Maryland. It was not on the agenda, but I happened to pass it in route to another venue, so turned around and went back. It seems like I originally had trouble finding it on the map, but after my visit I located it without incident. State Route 610 is a major highway, so access and the likelihood of driving by the winery is good.
Before my tasting, I had a short conversation with owner Jack Lord. Costa Ventosa has been brewing beer for the last three years and that may be where his heart is. Lord lamented the local growing conditions and the high water table that makes viticulture challenging.
Since planting the first vines in 2007, Lord discovered a few varietals that do well and it is with those that the emphasis remains. Despite indications to the contrary, I actually found several of the wines to be quite good.
There were nine wines on the tasting menu. I felt that they were all well crafted, but there were a couple of standouts. The Riddle Farm Riesling was my hands-down favorite. Even at 4% residual sugar, I found the wine to be well balanced with peach notes and nice acidity. Other whites included an off-dry Vidal Blanc, dry-style Pinot Grigio, crisp Chardonnay and a white Merlot.
The reds included a Niagara blend and Concord, but the Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend jumped out at me. It had a nice nose, dark fruit, complexity and a medium finish. I thought it was very well done.
There was a nice crowd in the tasting room and many appeared to be local regulars. The service was exemplary my wine steward was knowledgeable about the wines and other local points of interest. All in all, I give high marks.
So whether you are looking for beer or wine and you happen to be driving along State Route 610 in Eastern Maryland, look for Costa Ventosa. It is a welcome stop with friendly atmosphere. After you stop in, let me know what you think.
Crow Vineyard and Winery Profile
Written by Brian—Apr 23, 2017
As of this writing, there are only about 70 wineries in Maryland. In the context of the greater Mid Atlantic Region, there are about ten of those wineries that fall into an elite top tier. One of those cutting-edge producers is Crow Vineyard and Winery on the Eastern Shore.
Geographically, Maryland’s Eastern Shore is the Northwestern part of what is known as the Delmarva Peninsula. It is a long peninsular landmass made up of Delaware along with coastal regions of Maryland and Virginia. It is bordered in the west by the Chesapeake Bay, in the Northeast by the Delaware Bay and in the south by the Atlantic Ocean. There are wineries throughout the region, but the majority of them are in Maryland.
Crow Vineyard is in the northern third of the Eastern Shore near the town of Chestertown on a 365-acre property that, for the last three generations, was devoted to dairy farming. Cattle are still raised, but exclusively for grass-fed beef.
The transition to viticulture began in 2010 when Roy and Judy Crow began planting 12 acres of vines. In 2011 the old milk house was repurposed as a tasting room. Today the winery is producing about 2500 cases of wine under the Crow label and another 2500 of custom crush for other local wineries. The long-term plan is to produce 5000 cases using exclusively estate fruit.
I sat down with Roy and Judy Crow and sampled several of the wines as part of a food pairing. I will say quite candidly that this is one of those wineries where all of the wines are of extremely high quality. With that caveat, I will speak at length about only a couple of the offerings.
Three white wines and a rosé were paired with a variety of cheese. The Chardonnay and Vidal Blanc were both stellar, but the Sauvignon Blanc was a real standout. It was done in more of a Loire style, which is to say it was well balanced with nice acidity, but was not overloaded with citrus. It was a lovely wine and paired well with the cheeses.
The reds were paired with some of the grass-fed beef from Crow Farm. They were pouring Merlot, Cabernet Franc, a Bordeaux blend and a Barbera. Again, these were all spectacular wines. All are certainly worthy of note, but the Cab Franc and Barbera were the real surprises. The Cab Franc was big with ripe fruit and black pepper notes in the finish. There was no bell pepper and nothing blended into the wine to mask flaws in the fruit. It is a world-class example of what Cab Franc should be.
I want to mention the Barbera simply because I encounter them so infrequently in the Mid Atlantic. Typically there is not much to say about the ones I do run across, but this one was special. It was lighter in body than the other wines, but it had a beautiful nose, great fruit and a long finish. It leaves me wondering if Crow can consistently produce a Barbera of that caliber.
In addition to wine and raising grass-fed beef, the third Crow business is a Bed and Breakfast. Breakfast. We spent an extremely comfortable night in the quiet of the country. When the sun goes down there is very little ambient light, it is so dark that you can see the Milky Way and the entire pantheon of stars. The Crows are also very hospitable hosts and open a large part of their home to guests. It is a very convenient spot from which to explore wine country of the other local points of interest.
I would say this was a great find, but I sort of knew what to expect before my visit. I had previously tasted some of the Crow wines and the winery does have something of a reputation for excellence. So there were no surprises.
I can tell you that Crow Vineyard and Winery is a must-visit wine destination. The wine quality is raising the bar for the rest of Maryland and this venue needs to be on your short list. After you visit, let me know what you think and also give me your thoughts on the Barbera. Let’s see if they can achieve consistent excellence with that varietal.
Owner(s): Harry Hepron
Winemaker: Harry Hepron
Open to Public
Mon 11 to 5; Thur-Sat 11 to 5; Sun 12 to 5
645 Harrington Road; Rising Sun, MD 21911
Dove Valley Winery Profile
Written by Brian—Apr 30, 2017
At the northern half of Maryland’s Easter Shore Wine Region there is a small cluster of wineries. Dove Valley Vineyard and Winery sits at the very top of the region. The next closest winery is probably in Pennsylvania. Indeed, the larger four-state region (Delaware, Southeastern Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey and Maryland’s Eastern Shore) is organized into the Vintage Atlantic Wine Region. This gives nod to the idea that state borders do not govern the similarities in terroir.
Harry Hepron started planting grapes in 1998 on his 100-acre property. Today there is a total of 13 acres under vine and Dove Valley officially opened to the public in 2004. Harry is still the winemaker, but his family assists with many aspects of the business. His grandson, Wyatt Griffith, was working behind the tasting bar and Wyatt’s parents were preparing for a winery event later in the day.
There were 15 wines on the tasting menu, but I did a selective tasting of six. All of the offerings were well crafted and there is something at Dove Valley to accommodate nearly any palate.
The wines were made from a combination of vinifera and hybrids. The most interesting grape was Bianca, a Hungarian hybrid, which produces a lighter-bodied white wine with slightly floral qualities. I should also mention the Riesling, which was my favorite. It was done in an off-dry style and showed perfect balance. The most popular wine is the Maryland Merlot, which I found to be full of fruit notes that should make it a perfect entry-level red.
Dove Valley hosts a number of public events throughout the year. These include murder mysteries, “Winestock” is a day of music, food and local vendors and they do a Caribbean wine-beach theme event. For more information, visit their website.
Because of its proximity to Interstate 95, Dove Valley can attract a crowd. Most traffic comes from Baltimore and Philadelphia, which are roughly equidistant. It does appear to be a popular spot. If you are nearby, I do recommend stopping in. After you do, please let me know what you think.
Owner(s): Jen and William Layton
Winemaker: William Layton
Open to Public
Mon-Thu 11 to 5; Fri-Sat 11 to 6; Sun 12 to 5
4225 New Bridge Rd.; Vienna, MD 21869
phone: (410) 228-1205
Layton's Chance Vineyard and Winery Profile
Written by Brian—Jun 4, 2017
The Layton’s purchased 1800 acres of farmland in Dorchester County, Maryland in 1948. For decades it was devoted primarily to grain. In 2007, another generation of Layton’s decided to convert part of the farm to viticulture. Jen and William Layton began planting grapes. Today there are 14.5 acres of primarily hybrids under vine.
William completed a U.C. Davis program with an eye toward taking on the winemaking role. As he learned his new craft, Tom Payette was retained as a consultant. Finally, in 2010, with the construction of a new tasting room, Layton’s Chance Vineyard and Winery opened its doors.
Layton’s Chance is in a lovely rural location and the tasting room blends well with its surroundings. The tasting bar is large enough to serve a dozen or more visitors. There is room to spread out inside and there is a nice sized event space next to the tasting room. When I arrived there was a small crowd in the tasting room and a few patrons seated outside on the deck. The room was adequately staffed the wine stewards seemed to be knowledgeable, professional and customer oriented.
On the day of my visit, there were nine wines on the tasting menu. All of the wines are produced from hybrids. Indeed, Cabernet Franc was recently planted, but is currently the only vinifera grown on the estate. It will be a couple more years before we will see an estate Cab Franc, but this is something to look forward to. It is a grape that does very well in Maryland.
One of the things that jumped out at me while sampling the wines was the quality of the whites in general. They were all well-balanced and contained nice acidity. The single-varietal Traminette and Vidal Blanc were both excellent, but the Farm White, which blends the two grapes was a real standout.
Red varietals represented on the tasting menu included Chambourcin, Norton and Marquette. They are blended into the Farm Red, which is a fruit-forward, bone dry red with nice structured tannins. The real surprise and frankly my top pick of the entire tasting was the Norton reserve. It was earthy and complex with nice tannins, but lacked the astringency that is often a feature of that varietal. It was easily one of the best Nortons I have ever tasted.
Layton’s Chance Vineyard & Winery located just off Route 50 midway between Salisbury and Cambridge. So it is easily accessed via one of the major arteries and despite its rural location, it is surrounded by a variety of points of interest. Among these colonial and civil war history sites and, in particular, a Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center, that only recently opened. So there are many other things to draw you to the area.
If you are driving through or in the area for any of the local attractions, Layton’s Chance Vineyard & Winery should be on your list. After stopping in, please let me know what you think.
Open to Public
No available hours
18150 Templeville Road, Marydel, Maryland 21649
phone: (410) 924-6991
Mt. Zion Orchard Profile
No Available Video
No Available Resources
Owner(s): Mark Emon
Winemaker: Mark Emon
Open to Public
Mon-Fri 12 to 6; Sat 12 to 7; Sun 12 to 4
609 S. Talbot St.; St. Michaels, MD 21663
St. Michaels Winery Profile
Written by Brian—Jun 5, 2017
The main street that winds through the center of St. Michaels, Maryland is reason enough to visit the town. It is full of colorful shops and eateries and on a nice weekend afternoon a healthy crowd can be found wandering the streets. At one end of the thoroughfare, an urban tasting room shares retail space with several other stores.
The tasting room seems adequate for the steady stream of visitors. On one side is a series of small tasting bars comprised of thick planks resting on wine barrels. Wine is available for purchase at one end of the room.
St. Michaels Winery opened its doors in 2005 and the tasting room has been in its current location since 2011. The fruit used to produce the 10,000 cases of wine that are bottled each year, is procured from a variety of sources. St. Michaels grows only Chambourcin, but I counted about 10 different varietals on the tasting menu. Some of the reds and whites come from the eastern shore, but the Finger Lakes, New York and Lodi, California also supply grapes.
I restricted my tasting to wines made from estate and Maryland fruit. I sampled four whites, which included a Chardonnay/Seyval Blanc blend, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Vidal Blanc. I thought that all of the wines were well crafted. The Sauvignon Blanc was my favorite white. It was perfectly balanced, with fig and melon notes capped by bright acidity in the finish. It really was a lovely wine.
Among the reds, I tasted a Sangiovese and a Merlot. The Sangiovese is being discontinued, which is a shame. The Merlot was my overall pick with its red cherry nose and on the palate the fruit was mingled with hints of tobacco, medium tannins and a long finish. By any standard it is a great wine.
The staff was extremely pleasant and professional. My wine steward was knowledgeable and able to speak with some authority about the St. Michaels wines as well as Maryland wine in general. The winery gets high marks for customer experience.
St. Michaels winery is a must-visit for anyone visiting Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Aside from pouring very good wine, the stop will provide an excuse to explore the rest of the town. After you stop in, let me know what you think.
Owner(s): Doris Behnke
Winemaker: Dave Collins
Open to Public
Wed-Sun 11 to 7
116 S. Main Street; North East, MD 21901
Turkey Point Vineyard Profile
Written by Brian—May 3, 2017
The city of North East, Maryland is the typical lovely, historic eastern shore town. The downtown feel is well preserved and it probably looks much as it did over a century ago. The downtown is gathering point for both locals and the tourist traffic that is drawn to the region from the large urban centers like Baltimore and Philadelphia that are less than an hour away. It was bustling, but not in an overcrowded sense.
One of the shops on Main Street is the tasting room for Turkey Point Vineyard. The winery has occupied the space since 2014. It seems like a smart location simply because in addition to visitors seeking to visit the winery, the shop seems to draw a fair amount of casual foot traffic from visitors to the downtown area.
The farm located five miles south of town has been in Doris Behnke’s family for five generations and she now controls 35 acres of the original tract. In 2008, the first grapes were planted and today there are seven acres under vine. The original plan was to sell the fruit and by 2012 Dave Collins of Big Cork Vineyards was purchasing everything produced on the estate.
A transition from grower to wine producer took place in 2013 when Doris contracted Dave Collins to make wine under the Turkey Point label. The move to engage Collins was brilliant. He is easily one of the most experienced and talented winemakers in Maryland and it is demonstrated in the quality of the Turkey Point wines.
I tasted about ten wines during my visit and I can say that they were all worthy of note. My rating system consists of a series of stars and my notes were peppered with stars. Despite that fact that I can easily write about all of them, for the sake of brevity, I will concentrate on just a few.
I only sampled a pair of reds and both were equally well crafted. The Merlot was big and dark with bright fruit and nice structure. The Cabernet Franc was exceptional with complexity, firm tannins and hints of spice in the finish. Both were clearly the product of ripe fruit and there was no hint of green pepper in the Cab Franc.
Among the whites I tasted a Chardonnay, Vidal Blanc and Moscato. Again they were all well done, but the Chardonnay/Vidal blend was over the top. The 1% residual sugar really brought out the fruit. That combined with the perfect balance and nice acidity obviate the factors that led to it earning best in class in the Governor’s Cup.
The tasting room is well laid out and my pourer was both knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the winery. Subsequently, I walked away feeling like I learned something about the wine and surrounding area.
The wine, venue and customer service are all reasons to visit this winery. Turkey Point Vineyard is an important stop for anyone in the area and certainly must-visit for wine lovers interested in learning more about Maryland wine. After you stop in, please let me know what you think.