Where We’re Coming From
In 2003, we acquired some land and a small cabin on the Monocacy River near Utica, Maryland, just north of Frederick. Part of the property was forested, but about 10 acres was good for farming. These we leased to our neighbors Mehrle Ramsburg and Sam Roop, who grew wheat, corn, and soybeans there.
We enjoyed watching their farming operations for several years, but always had at the back of our minds that someday we would try farming on our own. Impressed by the growing winery industry in Maryland, we investigated the idea of growing wine grapes on our property. Our idea was to sell our grapes to local vintners. We read everything we could on the subject of viticulture, began attending meetings of the Maryland Grape Growers Association. Soon we were hooked.
In 2008, we started our grape-growing enterprise by hiring our neighbor Sam to rip, plow, harrow, and otherwise prepare the site for a one-acre vineyard on land sloping gently toward the Monocacy River. In April 2009, with the help of brothers, sisters, children, and other family members—to whom we will be eternally grateful!—we planted 800 cabernet franc vines on that acre. (We chose cab franc because of its relative winter hardiness and its popularity with regional wineries.)
The vines flourished, giving us a small crop in 2010 for home-made wine and larger crops from 2011 onward. In 2011, we began selling all of our fruit to the then newly-established Old Westminster Winery over in Carroll County. From its beginning, Old Westminster has used its own grapes and those of a few other growers, including ours, to make award-winning wines that have been praised by Baltimore- and Washington-area wine writers.
During all this time, we lived in the D.C. area and worked on our one-acre vineyard on weekends. Toward the end of 2013, we moved to the farm full-time, and soon we increased our vineyards to a total of four acres, adding an acre of albariño, nearly an acre each of chardonnay and merlot, plus small plantings of cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot.
At about the same time we also decided to become a farm winery, producing wine on our own account instead of selling our fruit to others. In 2015, we began renting space and equipment to make our wines at Maryland Wine Cellars. Over the past two years we have relied significantly on and appreciated the expert help of Lisa Hinton and Drew Baker, MWC’s winemaker and viticulturist, respectively. We have also benefited greatly from consultation with Lucien Guillemet, proprietor of Château Boyd-Cantenac in Margaux, whose main occupation is producing delicious grand cru wine in Bordeaux, but who also advises a number of mid-Atlantic wineries.
Up to this point, we have learned that the whole winegrowing and winemaking cycle, from pruning vines in early spring all the way to bottling (and drinking) the wine one to two years later or more, is an activity that amply repays the effort involved, bringing each year both an exciting sense of renewal and a satisfying sense of completeness. In short, we like it and are intent on continuing down the path we’ve chosen.
Where We’re Heading
Here’s where that path is leading us. In the near term we will add about one acre of vines to our present four, keeping our overall vineyard area small. This will enable our family and a few employees to give personal attention to every vine. And we’ll be able to maximize the quality of our wines by producing them in relatively small batches.
We are also working hard to establish a winery here on our own property that, though small, will be big enough to make wine from all the fruit we can grow here. The winery will be a brand new building, but we’ll also need space where people can taste and buy the wine we’ve produced. For that we’re renovating a barn that stands next to the new winery building. We hope to be through with construction work on both the winery and sales building in time for a mid-summer 2017 opening, and to have finished equipping the winery in time for the fall 2017 harvest.
Come what may, we will start offering wine tastings by appointment during the first week of July. Soon after, we expect to be open regularly on Saturday and Sunday afternoons through the end of October, and will continue to offer tastings by appointment during other days of the week and times of the year.
Until we open, we’ll be using this website, our newsletter, and an occasional photograph on Instagram to keep you informed. If you’ll give us your email address (see sidebar), we’ll send you an Opening Day announcement with all the details and enroll you as a subscriber to our newsletter.
As soon as we’re open, we hope to meet you here at Links Bridge Vineyards!
Keep Us in Mind!
We hope you’ll come visit us once we’re open for business in Summer 2017! You can sign up here to receive an opening day announcement via email and to subscribe to our newsletter.