redefining iconic wine.

We’ve found a perfect hillside for growing grapes. The kind of grapes that will make wines that redefine what's possible in the eastern United States.

We'll never forget the moment we first stood on top of the hill overlooking Sugarloaf Mountain and the Blue Ridge. It was love at first sight. And it’s been confirmed by geologists, viticulturist and winemakers from near and far: we have a very strong sense that Burnt Hill is going to change the game.

So, of course, we're encouraged that Dave McIntyre, Wine & Food columnist for the Washington Post, is chronicling our journey: “I wrote in January about the Bakers’ purchase of Burnt Hill Farm and their hopes to produce an iconic, world-class red wine there. I will follow their efforts over the next few years to describe the choices, efforts, and risks involved in creating a vineyard.”

You can read these two WAPO articles written so far:

How does a top-rated winery in Maryland get even better? Buy a farm

Before the vines go in, it’s busy down on Old Westminster’s farm

To date, we’ve done a lot of recon: mapping the soils, digging truth pits, running visual and chemical analysis, etc. We’ve discovered ancient soil – formed from decomposing slate, phyllite and schist – that’s rocky and nutritionally poor, requiring the vines to dig deep for sustenance. The high elevation exposes the site to abundant sunshine and wind which are nature’s antibiotics. The steep hills quickly evacuate rainwater and cold air. All of these are characteristics of an excellent vineyard site for growing red wine. So we’re focused on that one thing: creating iconic red wines.

If I asked you to tell me what comes to mind when I say iconic red wine from America, I suspect many are picturing a Napa cab. Something culty, expensive, overly ripe, high in alcohol and aged in 100% new oak. And you wouldn’t be wrong. We’ve been conditioned to think that way – that bigger is better, that “makeup” is desirable.

But honestly, I think it’s a great time to redefine “iconic” American red wine.

We’re going to challenge current beliefs with unique and transparent wines – wines that offer balance, nuance, and character. We’re going to farm thoughtfully, using biodiverse cover crops, biodynamic principles and incorporating animals. And then, in the winery, we’re going to craft wines with a light hand, ferment with indigenous yeast, and bottle it all without fining or filtration. These wines will be made without makeup – a pure reflection of the time and place where they’re grown and the people who guided the process.

Creating an iconic vineyard isn’t a goal with a clear finish line. It’s a process. We’ll always strive to improve. But the hope is that we create many beautiful wines along the way. Wines that offer a glimpse into the potential of the Burnt Hill site and inspire us to continue on our journey.

Drew Baker