Maryland doesn't evoke an image of wine country per se but that's where you can find over two dozen wineries and Boordy Vineyards is one of them.
Wine from Maryland?
The Mid-Atlantic state is known for many things, as one of the original 13 colonies to revolt from the British, the first capital of the U.S. (Annapolis), the inspiration for Francis Scott Key's Star Spangled Banner (England's artillery shelling of Ft. Henry in Baltimore in the War of 1812), the Mason-Dixon Line, Spiro Agnew (Vice President under Richard Nixon who had a bad habit of accepting bribes and evading taxes as Maryland's Governor), the Ravens NFL team that wins on defense and lulls fans to sleep with offense and Baltimore hometown boy and Pink Flamingos filmmaker John Waters. Wine? Never crossed my mind.
Boordy Vineyards is a small family owned winery located in Long Green Valley just a short drive northeast from downtown Baltimore. It's the state's oldest family-owned wineries that was founded by East Coast wine pioneer and journalist, Philip Wagner and his wife, Jocelyn. Wagner is known for his groundbreaking book on American winemaking called, American Wines and How to Make Them published in 1933, just in time for the 21st Amendment and the repeal of Prohibition. He may have used his own book and research to start his winery and is known for introducing French hybrid varietals such as Baco Noir and Vidal Blanc that would better thrive in the East Coast winters.
In 1980, Wagner sold his winery to the Deford family who moved it to their 230-acre farm in Hydes, Maryland. The farm dates back to 1725 with the Defords farming it for three generations. Vineyards were first planted on the farm in 1965 and with their love of wine, the UC-Davis trained Enologist Robert Deford and wife Julie got into the winemaking business when they bought the historic Boordy.
Today, the winery operates out of a 19th century fieldstone barn on the farm which helps insulate the winemaking facilities through the icy winters and sweaty hot summers. Boordy is located in the Piedmont Plateau growing region that is in Central Maryland and home to the majority of wineries in the state. The Defords have changed the direction of Boordy from its origin, one somewhat different but still inspired by Philip Wagner. Deford has moved to planting single varietals that appeal to the modern wine consumer's palate rather than the simple reds, whites and pinks of a bygone period. They produce approximately 70,000 gallons annually which makes them one of the largest wineries in Maryland.
Boordy Vineyards' current offerings include two series, Landmark and Icons of Maryland.
The Landmark series represents the best varietals of the region, vineyards and winemaking. These are high profile table wines for the discriminating palate.
Icons of Maryland
The Icons series includes food-friendly and easy-sipping wines that are dry to sweeter in character.
- Vidal Blanc
- Boordy Blush
- Petit Cabernet
- Pinot Noir
Boordy also produces what they refer to as Just for Fun Wines which include Sangria, apple, strawberry-raspberry and spiced wassail wines. As you may expect, these are for those less than serious times of life.
Visiting Boordy Vineyards
The Defords welcome visitors to Boordy, tour the winery and to taste their native Maryland wines. They are open Monday through Saturday between 10AM and 5PM and Sundays from 1PM to 5PM for tastings and wine sales with tours at 2PM and 3:30PM daily. Their bucolic farm plus winery is only a half hour outside of Baltimore in time, but a whole world apart. Boordy holds special events during the course of the year to promote their winery, wine releases, concerts and festivals. Picnicking is encouraged as well as experiencing their Maryland hospitality.
While winemaking in Maryland can be traced back to 1648, the wine industry is still in a nascent phase with new wineries starting up regularly. In 1995, there were about 57,000 gallons of wine sold in the state, in 2006 there were 192,000. Today there are 27 licensed wineries operating but expect that number to increase as the state government along with the Maryland Wine Association are providing assistance and encouraging new wineries, vineyard development and wine tourism.