NEED TO UPDATE YOUR ACCOUNT INFORMATION?
LANDMARK WINE CLUB 2022 SCHEDULE
WINE CLUB EXCLUSIVE PICK UP EVENINGS
Join us the Winter in celebrating the release of our February Wine Club quarter. Pasta La Vista Baby will be on site preparing a selection of delicious dishes for each event.
Sat. Feb. 5
Music by Raul Del Moral
6:00pm – 9:00pm
Sat. Feb 12
Music by Jay Swanson
6:00pm – 9:00pm
Sat. Feb. 19
Music by Dear Creek
6:00pm – 9:00pm
Sat. Feb 26
Music by Dan Haas
6:00pm – 9:00pm
All attendance is by RSVP only. Please check your emails from our Landmark Club Manager to RSVP online or email email@example.com. This Winter invitation will be open to each member plus one guest.
WINTER WINE PACKAGE COMING SOON!
UPDATE ACCOUNT INFO: Before Jan. 31, 2022
BILLING: Feb 1, 2022
PICK-UP: Feb. 1, 2022 – April. 4, 2022
SHIPPING: Feb. 10, 2022
A Red Story
The journey of a red wine from grape to glass begins with a well-managed vineyard. Boordy’s vineyard manager Ron Wates and his crew visit each vine multiple times during the growing season, managing the canopy for maximum solar exposure, thinning the crop to focus energy into the remaining clusters, and selectively hand harvesting the fruit. As is customary in the final days of the season we play the “game of chicken” with Nature, allowing the fruit to hang on the vine for as long as possible to achieve optimal ripeness while risking the crop to frost, rains, and late season diseases. So it was with some relief that we harvested a beautiful crop of cabernet sauvignon on October 20th. The grapes were a deep purple blue, with flavors of dark berries and a hint of plum, and an ideal balance of sugars and acids. Since the 2021 growing season was often cool and overcast, this extra time was critical in achieving the quality we aspire to in our Landmark wines.
Once the crop is delivered to the winery, care for the grapes passes to Boordy’s winemaking team of Tom Burns and Jose Real. The de-stemmed red berries are hand sorted, cold soaked for 7 days to extract color, then inoculated to initiate a leisurely yeast fermentation with twice daily “pump-overs” of the skins and juice to extract the tannins that form the backbone of the wine. After the primary fermentation subsides, the reds are transferred to French oak barrels for a secondary bacterial fermentation that converts malic acid to lactic acid, resulting in a rounder, softer flavor with buttery aromatic overtones.
Our reds are cellared for 18 months in barrels that range from new to 4 years old, enabling us to achieve the mellowing benefits of barrel aging without imparting excessive oak influence to the wine. During this time, each barrel is monitored for its health, and topped off to replace wine lost to evaporation; stirring of the fine yeast sediments is done regularly to allow their cells to break down, contributing a bready nuance to the wine.
Blending takes place 15 months after harvest; every barrel is treated as an individual, and there are literally hundreds of possible outcomes. Our job is simply to seek out the best. For added perspective we bring in the talented consultant Steve Blais, who has advised many top chateaux in Bordeaux. We compose trial blends, compare notes, perhaps argue a bit, reach our conclusions, and then make the final blends.
The reds are bottled a few months after blending, initiating a complex aging process in which the molecular structure of the wine gradually changes, profoundly affecting both aroma and body. Bottled wines have a familiar life cycle: adolescence, youth, maturity, and old age. We bottle age our Landmark reds for 18 months before release; however, when you choose to enjoy the wine is a matter of personal preference since each wine- and each wine drinker – is unique.
I believe that our appreciation of wine is enhanced by a deeper understanding of what goes into making it. Producing a fine wine is a risky, patient, painstaking process, yet one that is infinitely rewarding when you lift the glass to your nose, bask in the aroma, and let the first sip glide across your palate.
Rob Deford, president
Water Into Wine
I am often asked the question: “So…you make wine in Maryland. Isn’t the climate way too wet there to grow grapes?”
Let’s be honest – the lush greenery that adorns our landscape is the product of a moist climate, and grapevines favor dry conditions. But, regardless of whether your climate is wet or dry, careful water management is critical to the well-being of the plants and to the production of a healthy crop.
Regions with a seasonally dry climate like California and Australia typically depend upon some form of irrigation to grow their crops. By contrast, in Maryland, and in the mid-Atlantic generally, we have rain that falls throughout the year in predictable annual amounts, but which comes at unpredictable times.
There are a number of important ways that we have adapted our farming methods to accommodate natural rainfall, diverging from practices in drought climates. Instead of maintaining bare soil between our rows as is typically done in California, our row middles are populated by a lush crop of grasses and mixed broadleaf plants. Not only does this reduce soil loss due to erosion, but these plants compete for water and help dry out the soil after a rainfall. In wet years we allow the plants in the row middles to grow taller, so they demand more water; in dry years we mow them short to conserve water for the vines. Additionally, we have increased the density of vines in the vineyard. Their extensive root systems pull water from the soil and release it to the atmosphere through the leaves – a process called transpiration. The simple equation is: more vines per acre = more water removed.
Careful site selection is essential when farming in a wetter climate. A site with a well-drained soil of low fertility is optimal. Not only does water drain through the soil horizons more quickly, but less fertility results in a sparser leaf canopy, thus allowing better penetration of air and light, which dries out the foliage and helps reduce disease pressure. Our region has a rich geologic history with very diverse soils so there are many superior sites to be found.
During the growing season we hedge the leaf canopy and pull leaves to prevent shading within the trellis, giving each leaf its own “solar real estate” so it can perform photosynthesis at peak efficiency – converting solar energy and carbon dioxide into grape sugars.
Returning to the question of whether Maryland’s climate is too wet to raise top quality grapes, the answer is that in most years, with appropriate farming techniques, our natural rainfall is an asset. Given the dire stories of water scarcity currently emanating from our western states, and the equally dire predictions of long-term climate change, I would say that the water that falls out of our skies is a great blessing.
Rob Deford, president
The Dirt on Soil
The paradox of soil – misunderstood, maligned (“dirty” “soiled”), and exploited, yet essential to our existence, it covers much of terrestrial Earth like a skin. It is the medium for the growth of our agricultural food supply, and most importantly (in the context of this brief letter) for growing fine wine. Soil consists of five components: organic matter, inorganic minerals, living creatures, air, and water. While this may seem rudimentary, soil is a bewilderingly dynamic environment, and an appreciation for its chemical and physical properties is essential to making an informed choice about where to grow the best wine. Indeed, the first thing an aspiring winemaker should ask themselves is, “where should I site my vineyard?”, since your wine will only be as good as the grapes you grow. Yet, ironically, good soil is not what you want; winemakers have long observed that lousy soils make the best wines.
Grapevines perform best in well-drained (often gravelly, rocky) soils that are low in fertility. This is because dry conditions moderate vine growth and yield grapes that contain less water, resulting in more intense, flavorful wines.
One of wine’s more fascinating characteristics is that it exhibits terroir or the reflection of its place of origin. This means that you can enjoy wines from the same grape variety grown in various parts of the world and experience widely different expressions of that grape. Soil has “horizons” like a layer cake comprised of distinct zones; as vines age their roots penetrate ever deeper into these horizons picking up trace minerals which add complexity to the wine’s flavor profile. We have observed this phenomenon repeatedly at Boordy as newly planted vineyards mature, with full expression achieved in about their eighth year.
One of the best examples of the impact of soil upon wine quality is found in our South Mountain Vineyard, where we source the fruit for our “Dry Bench Reserve” Albarino, Chardonnay, and Landmark Reds. The grapes for these wines are selectively harvested from discrete bands of low fertility rocky soil that run diagonally to the rows of vines. An aerial photograph reveals that the foliar growth on the vines in these “dry benches” is moderated by water stress, and the fruit always reaches a higher degree of ripeness, while maintaining perfect acid balance. The wines have a richer aromatic profile, are full on the palate, and the reds exhibit deeper hues.
While soil is just one element in the complex matrix of influences upon wine quality, it is the foundation. In highly evolved regions like Bordeaux and Burgundy where wine has been grown for hundreds of years, soil is a major determinant of the reputation of producers and the prices their wines command. We have come a long way in Maryland in a stunningly short time in our understanding of where the best vineyard soils are found, and it is one of the reasons why the quality of wines grown in our state has made such quantum leaps in recent years.
Rob Deford, president
A New Look For Boordy
After 16 years of exemplary service, our Landmark labels will be retired over the coming months. You might ask why this is important, when what really matters is the divine liquid that’s inside the bottle?
Labels are significant because they convey the spirit and character of a winery – its commitment to quality, history, and sense of place, in addition to the type and origin of the wine in the bottle. Before we taste a wine, we often have nothing but the label with which to evaluate it, so its effectiveness as a messenger is critical.
Much has changed at Boordy since our last label design was introduced in 2004 – in many senses we are a different winery, and a better one. In the intervening years we have replanted our vineyards to improved stock, built a new winery, brought on talented staff, and gained invaluable experience that has enabled us to craft ever more expressive wines from our estate vineyards. We waited until these improvements were fully manifest in our wines before changing the outward appearance of our bottles; also, it seemed a fitting way to commemorate or 75th anniversary!
The current Landmark label will be replaced by two designs. The line drawing of our historic barns pays homage to Boordy’s original labels from 1940-1980 and will represent 5 non-reserve Landmark wines: Chardonnay, Albarino, Rosé South Mountain Red, and Cabernet Franc. The reserve tier of Landmark wines will be represented by a beautiful drawing of our barns and vineyards – a familiar sight to all who have visited here. These wines will be designated Dry Bench Reserve, referring to the bands of rocky, low fertility ground in our vineyards from which we source our best fruit.
Landmark Club members will be afforded the first glimpse of our new look this fall with the release of the 2019 Albariño Dry Bench Reserve, which was just awarded 90+ points by The International Wine Review. Patience, please – our Landmark Reds will not sport the new labels for a few years due to their extended aging time.
Rob Deford, president
The Human-Grapevine Connection
The grapevine is a curious plant. It cannot stand up on its own; it is susceptible to disease and cold weather, and produces a crop that is a favorite food of birds and deer, yet cultivation of the vine has been going on for thousands of years and is still expanding into new regions. The answer to this apparent contradiction is the interdependent relationship between the grapevine and humans. We support it with an elaborate trellis, and we painstakingly attend to its every whim so we can harvest its fruit to make wine. For proof of this interdependence, consider that more than 10,000 varietals have emanated from a single European species, Vitis vinifera, all the result of close field observation and clonal selection over the millennia by vineyard workers looking to create new styles of wine. A vineyard demands perpetual care, and if left unmanaged even for a single year it rapidly devolves into chaos.
We begin tending our vines each December, as the most recent vintage of wines is still completing fermentation in tank and barrel. Working into early April we meticulously prune the prior season’s growth to re-balance the plant; in the spring we postion the shoots along the trellis for maximum sunlight exposure; in early summer we remove leaves in the fruit zone to aid in ripening; mid-summer we remove excess crop to focus the vine’s energy into the remaining fruit, and in the fall we selectively harvest by hand. This is the cycle that Boordy has been engaged in for the past 75 years, and even longer if you include the “experimental” period during and just after Prohibition.
Grapegrowing and winemaking are not discreet events, but a continuum marked by a seasonal rhythm. The wines that we share with you are the result of the long, intimate relationship we have had with the vines we cultivate. A well-managed vineyard rewards us with good wines and is the best proof of the passion and the pride we have for our work.
Rob Deford, president
A new cabernet franc leaf basks in the warmth of a spring day.
Hope in the time of Corona
Wine growing and winemaking are fundamentally optimistic ventures. The perils arrayed against us can seem Biblical (a partial list): excess rain, drought, hail, diseases, insects, birds, crippling cold, frost, scorching heat. Add to this the vagaries of the marketplace, and it’s a wonder why rational people choose this calling – yet we do. And, we allow ourselves each spring to indulge in an intoxicating sense of optimism as our vines emerge from dormancy, pushing forth tender green shoots and tiny primordial grape clusters. Each new growing season brings with it the opportunity for improvement, for innovation, and for rebalancing our relationship to our work.
Why this perennial optimism when we are beset by perils? Though the threats may be numerous, the fact is that in most years conditions in our region favor the production of good – even great – wines. Through long experience we have learned to be nimble, adjusting our practices to the hand we are dealt, and we are confident that we can make good wines in even the most challenging conditions. Also, we are accustomed to a lengthy time horizon. This is Boordy’s 75thyear. Planting a vineyard is a 30 to 50-year venture, with wines gaining complexity and expression as the vines’ roots probe more deeply into the soil. I feel that 10 years is the minimum planning cycle in the wine business, which means that one difficult year or incident of misfortune is proportionately less significant in the grand scheme of things.
As I write this, we are facing the familiar paradox of nurturing hope in the face of peril: a resplendent spring is unfolding, the vines are pushing new growth, and the vineyard crew has readied everything for the season. Yet, we are all sheltering in place, the winery is closed, we have cancelled our musical events, at least through June. There’s more than the usual dose of angst. However, we know that this, too, will pass; there will be recovery and renewal. Growing wine is the essence of hope, and wine is one of life’s great gifts. Wherever you raise a glass of Boordy wine this spring, may it bring you pleasure and joy.
I look forward to when we can all celebrate together at Boordy again.
Rob Deford, president
Happy Birthday Boordy . . . it’s your 75th anniversary!
While 75 years my not seem significant in an endeavor that is as old as recorded history (winemaking is depicted on mosaics in the tombs of the pharaohs), in the context of the fast moving, ever-morphing commercial landscape of the United States it’s no mean feat. Boordy, Maryland’s first commercial winery, got its officialstart in 1945 just as WWII came to a close, but it’s unofficial roots date back to the Prohibition era, which, you will recall, wiped out the American wine industry between the years 1918 – 1933. Through those dark days, Boordy’s founders practiced benign civil disobedience by supplying vines to backyard growers and a handy companion book, “American Wines and How to Make Them”. To say that the wine industry in the U.S. was in a primitive state in those years would be an understatement.
Boordy’s first commercial wines were made with hybrid vines imported directly from France; they were dry and fresh on the palate and were intended to be drunk young like any good “vin de pays”. Selling for around $2/bottle, they rapidly gained a following.
Our family began growing grapes for Boordy in 1965. Fifteen years later we purchased the name and equipment from the founders and moved the winery to our farm in the Long Green Valley. With its historic barns and ample land for vineyard expansion, the farm was the ideal setting for the next chapter in Boordy’s story. Since then, Boordy’s evolution has mirrored that of the national wine industry, with impressive investments in vineyards, equipment, and talented personnel, mirrored by equally impressive gains in the quality of our wines.
The Boordy story is a rich one, underpinned by family commitment, innovation, risk taking, and reward. It is a journey shared over seven and a half decades with our fellow Marylanders and folk beyond who have supported the adventure by purchasing our wines. While modest in scale, Boordy has proven more durable than the Soviet Union, the beehive hairdo, and the European Union, and has proven more financially stable than General Motors and Lehman Brothers.
The wine industry is one instance where age confers a distinct advantage, particularly in a region where much of our know-how derives from practice; to make the best wines we must commit to a lot of trial-and-error. Our soils and climate are distinct; we cannot parrot California or France. Time is on our side, allowing the knowledge that we have accumulated over the years to be passed from one generation to the next. While perhaps a bit trite, it’s not inappropriate to compare Boordy’s evolution to that of a fine wine aging in the bottle, whose trajectory is toward better and better quality.
I hope you enjoy this selection of Landmark wines. Thank you for sharing our journey, and please raise a glass to salute this milestone in Boordy’s history.
Rob Deford, president
Fall 2019 Whither the Weather
With the excellent 2019 vintage just completed and the new wines safely tucked away in our cellars, we now have the luxury to reflect upon broader issues, foremost among them being: “whither the weather?” The dramatically different personalities of the 2018 and 2019 vintages beg the question of whether our weather has come off the rails?
According to NOAA, “the difference between weather and climate is a measure of time”. Climate is the big picture, including average temperatures, rainfall, and length of growing season that characterize a region. A coastal state at the 39thparallel (sandwiched between Napa and Rome), Maryland has a climate whose broad metrics favor fine wine production.
The weather is what we talk (and complain) about on a daily, weekly, even monthly basis. So, when does weather become climate? When do fluctuations become so extensive that they warrant a recalibration in how we grow and make our wines? The reason this matters is that climate is the sine qua non of fine wine. All else is for naught if climate isn’t on our side.
Presently there are more questions than answers. Winemaking is at its heart an optimistic undertaking, and despite the perennial challenges and triumphs of weather (which have a history as old as wine itself), our belief in the fundamentals of Maryland’s climate is unshaken. Annual variability also has a silver lining: it insures against complacency in our work and bland consistency in our wines. Each vintage has a unique character, requiring an attentive, nimble approach to get the best result. At Boordy, now reaching our 75th year, we embrace this approach.
The 2019 vintage gave us a rare combination of fine quality fruit and abundant crops, so we will have much to celebrate beginning with the first white and rose wines to be released this spring, to the reserve reds which we look forward to sharing with you in 2022.
As always, we deeply appreciate the faith you place in our work through your membership in the Landmark Wine Club.
Rob Deford, president
Summer 2019 Not Reserved about Chardonnay Reserve
Chardonnay, the most widely planted white wine variety in the world, may be responsible for many bland, generic wines but it also produces rare and exquisite gems that are sought out by connoisseurs. This malleability is not a character deficit; it’s the secret to chardonnay’s appeal among winemakers. Chardonnay could be likened to a blank canvas upon which terroir (climate & geography) leave their imprint. Additionally, there are numerous clonal variants of chardonnay that range from high-yielding and insipid to finnicky, exotic, and flavorful. These two variables – terroir and clone – identify chardonnays from one vineyard or region to another and distinguish those which exhibit exquisite personality from the rest of the crowd.
Chardonnay is planted in both our Long Green and South Mountain vineyards. Long Green’s cooler conditions and more fertile soils yield chardonnay with tropical and citrus aromas and a medium to light body; these grapes are dedicated to our Icon Chardonnay. Our Chardonnay Reserve is sourced entirely from South Mountain where the growing season is longer and the soils poorer, yielding chardonnay with a more restrained aromatic profile and a mineral character which lingers on the palate. The harvest crew ducks under the trellis wires as they work down the rows, following a vein of impoverished soil where the best grapes are found. Tedious, back breaking work, yes, but it is the key to the rich, distinctive character of this wine.
The role of winemaking is critical. Careful blending of clonal lots and French oak barrel fermentation for six months add intrigue to both the aroma and flavor. To avoid over-extraction of wood flavors we use barrels ranging in age from new to five years. Hand stirring of the yeast “lees” (sediments) during this period contributes a rich “bready” nuance to the wine’s palate. Finally, we bottle age the wine for a year before release to harmonize its aromas and flavors.
An ocean of indifferent chardonnays has led to widespread fatigue among wine drinkers with this variety, but this misses the point. Chardonnay is, without a doubt, the greatest white variety in the world when grown in the right place and handled by talented winemakers. Boordy’s Chardonnay Reserve is such a wine, and a most worthy contribution to the noble legacy of this grape.
Rob Deford, president