Sometimes you have the privilege of seeing a winery in its infancy. You know…you can still smell the fresh paint on the walls. The vines are thin and wispy, hinting at years of vintages to come. The staff is fresh-faced and full of enthusiasm for their new wines. The tasting room is polished with nary a wine stain anywhere.
Harvest Ridge Winery opened in November 2013, though the first vines were planted in 2011. The property, located in Marydel, straddles the Mason-Dixon Line and, therefore, the border between Maryland and Delaware. The number 47 in their logo? It refers to the Mason-Dixon marker still marking that border behind the house on the property.
Twelve acres are planted in chambourcin, chardonnay, merlot, viognier. That makes it about the largest vineyard in Delmarva, according to Chip Nunan, son of the owner and general manager of the new family endeavor. And there are plans to plant another 30 acres or so in the coming years.
That’s ambitious. And so are their plans for winemaking. Already on the shelves are a couple of 2011 vintages, viognier and merlot, 2012 chardonnay and malbec and 2013 vidal blanc. A sweet summery Country Bloom, a rosy chambourcin, was released the day I stopped by while on the Good Libations Tour, a visit to five spirit-filled businesses in Kent County, Delaware. (More on this to come in future blog posts.)
I also had a taste of their yet-to-be-released peach wine. It was, in a word, peachy. Like sit on the porch on a very hot day, breathe in the sweet aroma and sip it cold and sweet. I think it would make a fine summer sangria.
Fruit wines other than peach are part of their offerings, as well. Apples from nearby Fifer Orchards go into their apple wine. And Fifer grew the pumpkins that might one day become pumpkin wine. Winemaker Milan Mladjan referred to the area’s passion for punkins (i.e. Punkin Chunkin) as the reason for experimenting with pumpkin wine. Orange-y pumpkin wine? I’ll believe it when I see it. Maybe they’ll make me a believer.
Harvest Ridge’s wines won’t put Napa or Willamette out of business. But the crowd I was with were pleased with the chardonnay, viognier and malbec. I took home a chardonnay for another tasting.
The winery is off the beaten path but the trip through farm country is lovely and the destination is a happy place worth the visit. It’s always fun to visit a new place where the staff see only good things in their future. And I wish them many years of good vintages.
© Text and photos Mary K. Tilghman