Wonderful Women Winemakers of Maryland Wineries

Written by Kurt Jacobson

November 18, 2021
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There are a growing number of women winemakers around the world. Come along to a few Maryland wineries to meet the wonderful women winemakers behind the wines. 

Women winemakers are steadily making waves in the male-dominated wine world. Throughout the US and beyond, I keep finding examples of excellent wine made by women. In the Mid-Atlantic region where I live, there are numerous wineries worth visiting to taste great women-made wines. I’ve enjoyed going deep into Maryland to research this fun project. According to Maryland Wine, the history of winemaking in Maryland goes back to 1648 when Tenis Palee gave it a go in the new land. Today, Maryland Wine lists more than 60 wineries, offering quite a variety for the wine explorer. With that said, let’s go for a ride to get a taste of these Maryland wineries and the wines offered by women winemakers in the state.

Women Winemakers Around the World

In the late 1990s, my wife and I were visiting the Marlborough wine region in New Zealand where we first came across the mention of a woman winemaker. Not long after that, we had our first taste of Merry Edwards’ Pinot Noir at a restaurant in Colorado. Merry’s winery is in the famed Russian River Valley and produces some of the best pinots I’ve ever had. Obviously, women can make excellent wine, but the hard part might be finding these wineries that have women making wine.

Women Winemakers at Maryland Wineries

There are a growing number of women winemakers. According to CarpeTravel.com, there are a growing number of women winemakers. In a 2019 map, CarpeTravel.com shows 12 women-owned Maryland wineries. I enjoyed discovering a few and tasting wines from their Maryland wineries.

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Black Ankle Vineyards

Black Ankle Vineyards is notable for its raving wine club fans who love the wines so much that owners Ed Boyce and Sarah O’Herron needed to buy three more farms to grow grapes to keep up with demand. Sarah is the co-proprietor, co-founder, and winemaker of Black Ankle.

Maryland wineries

Black Ankle Vineyards. Photo by Kurt Jacobson

After several years of scouring the Maryland countryside for an ideal vineyard, learning the winemaking ropes, and visiting other vineyards, they bought an old farm near Mount Airy, Maryland. Their first harvest was in 2006, and they opened the doors in 2008.

Ed and Sarah split the winemaking duties equally. Black Ankle produces excellent red blends, Grunner Veltliner, Rosé, and more for their 3,500 wine club members and other customers. Sarah’s favorite wines to make are the Bordeaux blends.

She said, “I love the process of making big reds.” And I love the process of drinking their big reds!

With a choice of three outdoor seating areas featuring views of the vineyards and vintage farm buildings, Black Ankle is one of my favorite places to go with my wife and our dog.

Loew Vineyards

I met with Loew Vineyards’ winemaker, Rachel Lipman, on a sunny June day in the vines. Winemaking runs deep in this family, going back to the mid-19th century in Europe. Rachel is the fifth generation in her family to join the winery business.

maryland wineries

Rachel Lipman of Loew Vineyards. Photo by Kurt Jacobson

At only 28 years old, Rachel has already been making wine for a decade and makes the best mead I’ve ever tasted. She has an extensive background in the wine industry with two university degrees, a winemaking certification, and an internship in organic vineyard and pathology work in the berry pathology lab at UMD.

Rachel has made Chardonnay, red blends, Chambourcin, Malbec, and more. Though smaller than some of the other wineries listed here, Loew Vineyards offers quality wines and an outdoor tasting area near the vines worth checking out.

Linganore Winecellars

Melissa Aellen of Linganore Winecellars has eight years of winemaking experience and works full-time at her family’s winery. She grew up in the wine business when few women were making wine. Melissa told me, “In 2009, there were no women winemakers in Maryland.”

Maryland wineries

Linganore cab franc. Photo by Kurt Jacobson

With no examples of women winemakers, she had thought she’d be a secretary for a while since her dad’s secretary was her only role model at the winery. When Melissa heard about Gina Gallo and saw that women could indeed succeed as winemakers, she set her sights on being a winemaker. Aellen has worked at seven wineries across the country and in New Zealand to learn the art of winemaking.

Linganore is bigger than most Maryland wineries. It produces around 80,000 cases per year and features acres of outdoor seating areas where you can enjoy both their extensive wine lineup and their onsite brewery. A Fido-friendly enclosure at Linganore is popular with dog owners.

Old Westminster Winery and Vineyard

Lisa Hinton and her two siblings have become integral members of the team at Old Westminster Winery and Vineyard.

Lisa has a degree in chemistry that serves her well in crafting a wide range of wines like sparkling, rosé, white, and red wines. I especially liked the Anthem, which is a red blend of cab franc and petit Verdot. I bought a bottle to take home.

maryland wineries

Old Westminster winery. Photo by Kurt Jacobson

Unlike most Maryland wineries, Old Westminster distributes to more than 30 states, including California and Texas, two of their biggest buyers.

Old Westminster has a scenic farm and vineyard-view outdoor seating area that is dog-friendly. They also have an onsite restaurant serving pizza and salad. I was impressed with their cheese and snack menu and loved the feta dip.

Links Bridge Vineyards

Out in covered bridge country on the right bank of the Monocacy River is one of Maryland’s small wineries that packs a big punch. Links Bridge Vineyards co-owner Joan Cartier splits the winemaking duties with Robert Cartier (her husband) and Cody Albright.

maryland wineries

Links Bridge Winery sits in Thurmont, known for covered bridges. This one, Roddy Road covered bridge, is just north of Thurmont, MD. Photo by klaftera via iStock by Getty Images

During a springtime winetasting visit, I was so impressed with their cab franc that I bought a case of it. Joan talked me into trying their Muscat Blanc Dry even though I’d never liked this usually sweet wine. Their Muscat Blanc is a tantalizing fruit bowl in a glass that’s not too sweet and perfect with cheese, bread, chicken, and pork.

The tasting area is like visiting someone’s secret garden. It’s a quiet and relaxing space for tasting Links Bridge wine. Enjoy taking in the sounds of birds and watching butterflies tend the blooms creating a sense of peace. There are 13 wines for sale at the time of this writing for customers to taste.

Links Bridge is north of Frederick, Maryland, near Thurmont in the middle of farm country. You should plan on bringing a picnic and enjoying an authentic Maryland wine tasting experience.

Port of Leonardtown Winery

Last but not least on the Maryland wine tour is the 2021 Governor’s Cup, best-in-show winner, Port of Leonardtown Winery. This winery is lucky to have Lauren Zimmerman as their winemaker. Lauren’s 2019 Chambourcin won top honors at the Guv’s Cup and is reason enough to visit this way-south winery. 

Lauren has amassed 17 years in the winemaking industry and even spent time in New Zealand adding to her résumé. Inspired by New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blanc, she planted her own vineyard after returning home. I asked Lauren what her favorite varietal is, and she said, “My favorite grape to work with is Chambourcin because it’s extremely versatile on the production side.”

Maryland Wineries

Port of Leonardtown Winery’s winemaker Lauren Zimmerman. Photo by Steve Eliasson

Reasons to visit Port of Leonardtown Winery beyond their wine are, several B&Bs, experience Maryland coastal cuisine at a local restaurant, and see a part of historic Maryland off the regular tourist routes. Next to the winery is a pleasant park where I walked my dog before settling into a round of wine tasting. During my visit, I was impressed by both the 2019 Chambourcin and the 2021 Viognier and believe you will find one of their dry or fruity wines to enjoy at home.

Articles Related to Maryland Wineries

Last Sip from Maryland Wineries

Maryland wineries provide more than sixty (and counting) reasons to visit. The locations cover a broad spectrum of landscapes from the fields of the Eastern Shore, rolling hills northwest of Baltimore, and in the Blue Ridge Mountains. You will find both seriously good dry wines, and various fruit wines to tempt your palate. Drive safe, enjoy the ride, and take some Maryland wine home for another taste.

There are a growing number of women winemakers. Here are a few Maryland wineries and the wonderful women winemakers behind the wines. We sample wines from Black Ankle Vineyards, Loew Vineyards, Linganore Winecellars, Old Westminster Winery and Links Bridge Vineyards.

Wonderful Women Winemakers of Maryland Wineries

Written by Kurt Jacobson

Kurt Jacobson is a former chef and current freelance travel writer. His writing covers restaurants, destinations, hotel features, farms, and wine. When not hanging out at home Kurt loves exploring the Mid-Atlantic area with his wife and dog Sophie. Kurt's published articles can be found at Trip101.com, GoNOMAD.com, Mother Earth News Magazine, Edible Delmarva Magazine, tasteoftravel2.com, and 40+ publications worldwide. Find Kurt online on Twitter at @KurtTravels2 and follow his website http://tasteoftravel2.com/.

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1 Comment

  1. Mary Charlebois

    I’m on my way for some of the Maryland wine. Thanks, Kurt.

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