Old Westminster Winery’s vision is the following: “We are boldly committed to putting Maryland wine on the world map.”
I visited this beautiful winery over the weekend with Pineapple DC and learned about their process and tried some amazing natural wines. These were not the first Maryland wines that I have enjoyed, but probably the first wines that have the potential to put a winery on the map. I’m not the only one to think that. Westminster is rightfully proud that its Pét-Nat has received quite a bit of acclaim. Punch magazine said of its Pét-Nat Alberino that “Anyone who doubts that America is, indeed, great again need look no further than a fizzy Albarino made outside Baltimore.” The winery’s website showcases similar quotes from other sources as well.
I was lucky enough to snag a bottle of the Alberino in question. Pét-Nat is a style of sparkling wine, made in the ancestral method. It’s been around even longer than the traditional method used to make Champagne and Cava, and was possibly made by monks in the early 16th Century in the South of France. Wine is bottled prior to the completion of its primary fermentation and sealed with a crown cap. The bubbles are trapped in the bottle and remain there. Pet-Nat is often unfiltered.
Old Westminster’s Pét-Nat was a treat, it was light and refreshing, had lively bubbles, and the acidity and citrus notes of an Alberino. My husband wondered why anyone would ever pay for Champagne when this was such a refreshing wine. I guess after discovering a Prosecco that he didn’t hate last week, he’s becoming more open-minded about his sparkling wines. We could tell the Alberino was unfiltered because there was a deposit of dead yeast remaining in my glass after our final glass.
Old Westminster is a family owned winery. After experimenting for their first several years, they have currently settled on low intervention winemaking methods. They use natural yeast, do not fine or filter any of the wines, and use no additives. In addition to the Pét-Nat, other interesting wines I tried included a Barbara made with whole cluster carbonic maceration, resulting in a very light summer red that could be enjoyed with almost any food. Their rosé is a blend of Syrah and Merlot grapes, harvested earlier than they would be if being made into a red wine. This maintains acid and produces a more refreshing wine. As explained by one of the winemakers, most rosés are produced with the same grapes that go into red wine and no special thought goes into harvesting grapes for rosé.
I was encouraged enough to join the wine club here (the only reason I managed to sneak away with a bottle of the Alberino) so am looking forward to more events and visits to Old Westminster Winery.