Yesterday we started the Drink Local Wine Conference early by picking up Whitney Rigsbee at BWI and heading out to a couple Maryland wineries. Whitney works for Nomacork, one of the sponsors of the conference. Our first winery stop was Linganore Wine Cellars in Mt. Airy. There we met Anthony Aellen, one of the most enthusiastic and entertaining wine makers we have encountered over the years. Anthony likes to talk about his story of making wine from the beginning to today. Anthony has made wine in Maryland for decades. He noted some of the changes in the Maryland wine industry over those years.
One change he discussed was the importance of making wine more accessible to the people. Festivals gets the wine out to the people. Consumers need to be aware that your winery exists. Many years ago, Linganore was know for making sweet wines. At the same time they also made dry wines. Other wineries in the state would send customers to Linganore that asked for sweet wines. Now, many Maryland wineries have added semi-sweet wines and/or sweet wines to their portfolio.The Maryland wine industry has come to realize that you have to make the kinds of wines that the local communities want to drink. Another change in the industry is the number of varieties of wine grapes grown in the state. The planting of different vinifera has increased along with hybrids. There are also planting of experimental grapes that have numbers and no names.
We then visited Elk Run Vineyards. Fred Wilson also spoke of the changes in the Maryland wine industry over the years. He noted that many years ago, the state had a certain hostility towards the wine industry. Today they are accepting and helpful to the industry. This can be noted in the numbers of wineries when compared to Virginia. About 40 years ago Maryland and Virginia had approximately the same number of wineries. Now Maryland has over 60 wineries while Virginia has over 200 wineries. Many of Maryland’s 60 plus wineries have opened over the past couple years and more are scheduled to open this year and in the near future.
Today we are off with the media group to explore Sugarloaf Mountain, Black Ankle and Boordy.