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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Vino 301 Wine Concierge’s first endeavor was a self-guided tour of Maryland’s vineyards and wineries. For a flat fee, a person could go to all of the participating wineries across Maryland and enjoy a wine tasting and hors d’oeuvres. Great project … right? Well, not so much. Vino 301 just started and no one knew who we were. No one was interested in taking a chance on a new company. It was a challenge convincing vineyard owners to take a chance on us.
There was one vineyard that stood out during that time. They were fairly new too. They just opened their tasting room and were abundantly cautious about participating in our project. They had their own woes of being a new business. Several calls were placed; selling the merits of this endeavor to the General Manager, Drew Baker. Mr. Baker finally agreed to Old Westminster Winery participating. I would love to say the event was a huge success. It wasn’t and we had to cancel it. However, it was the beginning of partnership between our organizations.
What a difference three years makes. Since that time, Old Westminster Winery has grown and experienced tremendous success. Old Westminster officially opened a newer and grander new tasting room earlier in this month. “It looked like someone’s home, with a huge front porch and beautiful lights, just begging you to come in and have a drink”, is how someone described Old Westminster’s newly opened tasting room. The building is airy with vaulted ceilings, and plenty of space to socialize. Outside is beautifully landscaped. Most of the construction was completed by the family, which is not surprising. Old Westminster Winery is synonymous with family. Each member of the Baker family contributes to the success of the vineyard.
Old Westminster is a must visit. You can bring a picnic with you, but they do have food to purchase. You are always greeted by warm and friendly people, who are extremely knowledgeable about the wines they are pouring. The staff is always happy to answer any questions you have, even the geeky questions, like what was the growing elevation for these grapes. On the weekends, they have live entertainment.
Most importantly, you have to sample the wine. Old Westminster is known for its award winning wines. Our new favorite is the 2014 Farmer Fizz. Just in time for the holidays. It is a sparkling wine. Chardonnay-dominated blend. It has crisp apple and citrus flavors, followed by a touch of apricot. It is youthful, fresh and crisp.
Congratulations Old Westminster Winery and much success. We look forward to our continued partnership.