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A Tour of Hemsley's Fortune Vineyard

By Wick Dudley

 

Located in Queen Anne’s County, the Hemsley’s Fortune Vineyard was started in 1996 with the planting of 1000 vines each of Merlot, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon from the root stock number 3309 purchased from Mori vineyards in Ontario, Canada.  Arriving in a single package via UPS, I opened the box to begin planting.   Little did I realize how much my life was going to change!

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Piney Grove Vineyard

Since the 1800's, the Piney Grove Farm has been host to thriving horticultural pursuits. In fact, Col. Edward Wilkins was known at one time to be in possession of over one hundred and forty-five thousand fruit trees among his several orchards, with about thirty-five acres of that under glass. Capt. Robert S. Emory was the first "in Maryland" to engage extensively in the culture of the pear, and was known to have one of the best arranged and cultivated, as well as most productive fruit farms in the state. So it's hardly a surprise that the Lieber family has been steadily finding success while cultivating their own answer to the shifting tides of agricultural liquidity. A stone's throw from century old cedars, rows of Kent County Chardonnay look out over the sweep of the Chester River. Where Capt. Emory's and Col. Wilkins pears and peaches used to be loaded up for trade, the Liebers' grapes bask in the Chesapeake air, distilled sunshine for Maryland's own wines.

With plans to expand and an already expansive property, Piney Grove Vineyard is poised to continue the heritage of the farm into quality viticulture.
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Maryland Wine History Highlights

  • 1648 Earliest Records of winemaking
  • 1700's Governor Charles Calvert attempts to plant 200 acres of European grapes on Maryland soil but the vineyard attempt failed!
  • 1823 Havre De Grace native John Adlum, publishes first narrative on viticulture and winemaking
  • 1829 Society for Promoting the Culture of the Wine established
  • 1933 Baltimore Sun columnist, Phillip Wagner, publishes American Wines and How to Make Them
  • 1945 The state's first bonded winery, Boordy Vineyards opens
  • 1981 Maryland Grape Growers Association founded to improve standards for grape growing
  • 1984 Maryland Wineries Association founded and births Maryland's first wine festival

Since 2000, over 30 wineries have begun production in Maryland; as of 2012 55 wineries make up the MWA. For more history see "Maryland Wine: A Full Bodied History" available at www.historypress.net