1965-1980 Cooperating Growers; Deford Family

Boordy Red 1971

In the mid-1960s, Philip Wagner began seeking additional growers of Maryland grapes to supply his expanding business, thus bringing the Deford family into the Boordy story.

Robert Deford, Jr. was a personal friend, and an ideal candidate. He loved wine; he had land which looked promising; importantly, he had several children who could do battle with the weeds in the summer. The Defords became one of the first of Boordy’s “cooperating growers” with the establishment of a vineyard on their Long Green Farm in 1965. The Wagners developed relationships with other growers throughout the state, from the Eastern Shore to the mountains of Western Maryland.

Boordy flirted briefly with corporate America in 1974 when Seneca Foods Co. approached the Wagners about purchasing the Boordy name. Terms for a gradual buyout were arranged, and affiliated wineries were established in Penn Yan, NY and Yakima Valley, Washington. The arrangement was terminated after two years, however, as Seneca found the wine business too far afield from their mainstay applesauce business.??Over the fifteen years that the Defords trucked their grapes to Riderwood, a bond formed with the Wagners that ultimately led to the sale of the winery to the Deford family in 1980. Robert (Rob) Deford III, who had worked in the vineyards as a teenager, and attended the school of enology and viticulture at the University of California, Davis from 1979 – 1980, assumed the role of president and winemaker. In the fall of 1980 Boordy crushed grapes for the first time at the winery’s new location on the Deford’s 240-acre farm in the Long Green Valley, one-half hour north of Baltimore. The Defords renovated their 19th century stone barn whose massive walls and bank construction provided an ideal environment for the production and aging of wine.

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