Blue Ribbon Wine Tasting… Hidden Hills Farm and Vineyards
Before Christmas, I had an early Christmas present. I visited and enjoyed a wine tasting at Hidden Hills Farm and Vineyards. The wine tasting was a blue ribbon experience. Hidden Hills is one of Maryland’s newest vineyards. Located in Mount Airy, Maryland, Hidden Hills is a gorgeous 103 acres property nestled in the very rich grape growing region. This region is home to popular vineyards like Linganore Winecellars and Black Ankle Vineyard. Another interesting wine nerd fact about this region, it is the Linganore AVA. “An American Viticultural Area (AVA) is a designated wine grape-growing region in the United States distinguishable by geographic features, with boundaries defined by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) of the United States Department of the Treasury”, according to TTB. There are only three AVAs in Maryland (Catoctin AVA, Cumberland AVA and Linganore AVA) .
Hidden Hills Farm and Vineyards started as a horse training and riding facility. The rolling hills and open landscape epitomizes Maryland’s horse country. The property is breath-taking. The property was stunning in early winter. I can only imagine how beautiful Hidden Hills will be during Spring and Summer when the vineyard is lush and in full bloom. Robin and Art Sagoskin, Hidden Hills proprietors, are just as passionate about equine and as they are about wine. They encourage their visitors to experience the horses, the vineyard and the wine during their visit. When possible Robin or Art will take you to the barn to view the horses. This is truly a Maryland experience…horses and wine. It was an unexpected highlight of the visit.
Robin and Art always had a love for wine. Traveling to different wine regions, they were passionate about bringing their travel experiences and their knowledge they gained to Maryland. Their Maryland wine journey begun in 2013 with planting Sauvignon Blanc, Vidal Blanc, Chambourcin, and Cabernet Franc. The vines are still very young and probably will not produce Hidden Hills first harvest until this year. In the meantime, they buy fruit from local grape-growers. There is an old saying, good wine starts with good grapes. This is a Hidden Hills wine truism. The locally sourced grapes are the start to very good wines.
Hidden Hills has four wines on their tasting menu ( Vidal Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc). All the wines are dry and are aged in stainless steel except for the Cabernet Franc.
The tasting begun with a 2014 Vidal Blanc. The Vidal Blanc was very aromatic with honeysuckles, fresh blossoms on the nose and pear on the palate. It is a very well balance with moderate sweetness on the finish. The 2015 Pinot Grigio stood out among the white wines. It is a pale orange when the wine is first poured and slowly transforms to a pale yellow. As to say look at me, look at me; I’ve finally arrived. There is some contact with the skins during the processing, but not enough to be notable or influence the flavor. The Pinot Grigio possesses aromas of fall spices. Grapefruit and melon are on the palate with medium acid and finish. The 2015 Cabernet Franc is the only red wine. It is in a category by itself. It is jammy, and fruit forward and I love that in my Cabernet Franc. Not everyone appreciates these characteristics, and too bad for them. You will also experience hints of black pepper and clove.
Hidden Hills opened its tasting room in October 2016. You must make an appointment to enjoy a wine tasting. They cannot accommodate walk-ins. You will experience a very personal and educational tasting. You will not be disappointed. The wines are in limited production, similar to many Maryland boutique vineyards. If you are interested in purchasing wine, you should contact the vineyard directly.
Welcome Hidden Hills to Maryland wine. Hidden Hills is will not remain hidden for long. They offer a unique tasting experience that is inviting, intimate, and extremely pleasing to the palate.
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Boutique Wineries in Maryland: Newest Generation in Maryland Wine
Maryland’s wine industry has experienced tremendous growth over the past few years. Over 70 vineyards and wineries claim Maryland as their home. The latest generation is not looking to compete with the established vineyards size or production volume. This generation of vineyards is interested in producing small quantities and high quality wines. Many of the newest wineries in Maryland are boutique wineries.
Boutique wineries’ philosophy is to grow exceptional grapes and to make remarkable wine in small volumes. The winemakers produce 5,000 or less bottles of wine annually. Many produce estate wines. They do not use outsource grapes. This is to ensure the quality of the product, according to Gary Cohen, co-owner of Mazzaroth Vineyard. Mazzaroth Vineyard is a small vineyard, less than two acres, located in Middletown, Maryland. Mazzaroth sits on a slope and at the top of the hill is their home. From the top of the hill, you experience an amazing view of Frederick County countryside and the South Mountain. In their vineyard, you will find Vidal Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Tannat. Surprised to see Tannat among the varietals. Tannat is typically found in very warm climates with low humidity; however it appears to be doing well in Maryland.
Gary is passionate about maintaining its boutique size vineyard. He is not interested playing host to crowds of people. He prefers the intimate setting and hosting members of their wine club. Catering to smaller groups is another characteristic of boutique wineries. You will not find grand tasting rooms. In fact, the winery may not have a tasting room. Mazzaroth host guests on their patio overlooking their vineyard. You will have a very personal tasting experience at Mazzaroth. You learn about his growing philosophy and a tour of the vineyard. It is inviting and relaxing visit. If you are a wine geek, like myself, you will find it an memorable experience and appreciate the hands on care. Make an appointment to visit Mazzaroth. Other boutique wineries will require an appointment; they do not have a walk-in policy. Some wineries are not open to the public. You can only enjoy their wines at farmers markets or small wine festivals.
Because boutique wineries production is limited, you will not find them in many wine stores. You can purchase their wine at their vineyards, online and/or join their wine clubs.
I was not able to sample Mazzaroth’s wine, because I was the designated driver. However, the others who were with me thoroughly enjoyed the wines. Mazzaroth is a new vineyard, but their wines are showing maturity. There is something to be said about small quantities, high quality.