The Stemware Runneth Over
From all reports there’s nothing to whine about
By Brennen Jensen
Lately there’s been some vinous news worth clinking glasses over. Remember how it largely stopped raining at the end of the summer? It was the second-driest September in the state since record-keeping began; clear skies prevailed for a good six weeks. I’m not sure how all farmers felt about it—and I know this home gardener got tired of toiling with the hoses.
Grape growers get over the moon about such meteorological conditions as they’re perfect for concentrating grapey goodness. Maryland’s wine community is chatting away about the brilliant prospects for Maryland’s 2019 vintage, a welcome reversal from a super soggy 2018.
For a trellis-side report, I emailed a few Maryland vineyards about the recent harvest. “Our 2019 growing season was lovely” responded Sarah O’ Herron, co-proprietor of Black Ankle Vineyards in Mount Airy. Here’s her report: “A hot summer with just enough rain to keep the plants from drooping was followed by a warm dry fall, which meant that the fruit matured beautifully. It was not our biggest harvest–the dry weather also tends to mean small, concentrated berries and lower yields, especially in later varieties such as petit verdot and cabernet sauvignon–but the quality has been excellent. It will be a couple of years before we see the 2019s in bottle, but they will be worth the wait!”
From way out west in Allegany County, Paul Roberts chimed in as co-owner of Deep Creek Cellars, where they tend their own vines and work with a number of dedicated growers: “Indeed, it was a spectacular vintage–the best of 10 years,” he wrote. The grapes in question were planted for the winery by Mike and Barbara Hutton on ancient Devonian soils at their vineyard on Bear Hill Road just south of Cumberland, he continued. “The wines made from the Huttons’ pinot gris, pinot blanc, pinot noir, and cabernet franc reached maturity in early September–the flavors are impeccably balanced thanks to dry, ideal ripening conditions.”
“The drought we had at the end of the summer worked out well for us,” responded Tony Fiore, the third generation grower at his family’s Fiore Winery in Harford County. “We didn’t have the quantity that we usually get but the quality of the fruit we did harvest was top notch. Our chambourcin from this year should be an excellent vintage.”
At last but not least, Judy Crow, co-owner of Kent County’s Crow Vineyard & Winery, says it was “a good year” leading to “fantastic fruit quality” over on the Eastern Shore. “As an owner of a Maryland vineyard, as well as the President of the Maryland Wineries Association, I am very exciting to have a fruitful harvest season … especially after experiencing such a rugged harvest season the year prior.”
With glowing harvest reports coming in from the field, wine lovers have nothing to whine about—the stemware runneth over.