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Orchid Cellar Winery
by
Terry Sullivan

Orchid Cellar WineryAugust, 2011
Summary: In a quiet farming community, wine enthusiasts can discover different types of meads in a relaxed atmosphere. The Wilks came to the United States from Poland over twenty years ago and brought with them some mead recipes that are centuries old.

Nestled in the rolling hills outside Middletown, Maryland, Andrzej and Marzanna Wilk with their son, Andrzej Jr., watch over their vineyards and keep track of the honey the bees produce. The couple came to the United States from Poland two decades ago and brought with them a fondness for Polish meads. Visitors to Orchid Cellar, named because both Andrzej and Marzanna love orchids, can expect to learn about different types of meads.

The boutique tasting room has an L-shaped, dark wood tasting counter that was hand-crafted by Andrzej and Andrzej Jr. Walls are beige. Inset ceiling lights and a floor of 12-inch white/beige ceramic tiles keep the room light. Windows on one wall overlook Maryland’s country scenery. The tasting room opened October 2010.

Orchid Cellar WineryVineyards

The two-acre vineyard has young vines including Petit Verdot, Petit Manseng and Chardonnay. A low electric fence surrounds the vineyard and so far has been successful with keeping deer out. Eventually, the Wilks will release grape wines in addition to their portfolio of meads.

Honey is collected on the property and is also sourced from local beekeepers.

Types of Mead

Mead is fermented honey. Depending what is added to the mead will dictate the type of mead. A pyment is a blend of honey and grapes while a melomel is a blend of honey and fruit. However some fruit isn’t included in a melomel, apples for instance. Mead crafted with honey and apples is called a cyser. If spices are added to the honey one makes a metheglin. There is even a word used for mead made with honey and hot chili peppers, capsicumel. Wine enthusiasts visiting Orchid Cellars can taste these different types of meads.

Orchid Cellar WineryMeads at Orchid Cellars

Andrzej stated that his meads offer visitors a new taste of a product that is very traditional. Some of his recipes are hundreds of years old. Several have been used at monasteries in Poland for centuries. Of those tasted they all had a 16% alcohol. However there was no alcohol burn on the sweet finish. Mead is bottled in 375ml bottles.

The Ambrosia was a pyment made by blending honey and Chardonnay grapes. The yellow colored mead had a floral aroma and honey, honeysuckle and wild flowers on the taste. The finish was sweet. What turned out to be a favorite was the Castellan, a metheglin. The amber color was beautiful to look at while the floral aroma had honeysuckle and orange blossoms on the taste. Spices added to the sweet finish. This mead was made from a centuries old recipe.

Orchid Cellar WineryBlacksmith was a melomel blend of honey with blackberries, blueberries and raspberries. The mead was a red to Sienna color with predominant blueberry notes and a hint of floral on the aroma. The fruity taste yielded to honey. Lumberjack was a cyser made with honey and apples. The yellow color offered a floral aroma and had apple yielding to honey taste.
The Hunter was the capsicumel made with honey and red chili peppers. This is the best selling mead and offered a spicy kick. The honey aroma and taste yielded to a bit of heat from the red chili peppers. It was just spicy enough to have someone stop and take notice.

Orchid Cellar WineryAndrzej had some meads from Poland and offered us a taste. We tried the Trojniak Trybunalski, a mead aged in oak for three years. There was an overwhelming floral aroma. The honey taste was mirrored by wildflowers.

These meads were delicious and a visit to Orchid Cellar is enjoyable and educational. Visit Orchid Cellar Winery where one can learn about the different types of mead and about Polish history of mead making.

Orchid Cellar Winery
8546 Pete Wiles Rd.
Middletown, Maryland 21769

GPS: N39º 28.049’ W77º 32.901’

 

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