Note: This blog content is based on my opinions and was not sponsored or solicited
The photos below are a combination of my own and provided by Old Westminster Winery
This past year has been a challenge when it comes to dining and entertainment. I consider myself "Covid Cautious" and haven't gone to many venues nor have I had many culinary experiences.
However last month my parent's visited Maryland and I wanted to find a way for us to do something special and enjoyable. There's only so many puzzles and zoom activities one can do...
My dear friend Mo had posted on social media multiple times from a dimly lit tent that felt both romantic yet open. So I asked him where he was, and he told me about the Field Market Tastings. I learned that this is a temporary offering from Old Westminster Winery during the winter that combines an intimate tasting of their Maryland wines along with their delicious charcuterie plates.
After grilling Mo about the Covid precautions and doing a bit of research, my family and I decided to book a tasting. The cost of tasting is $45 per person, or $35 per person for wine club members.
We booked a noon tasting on a Saturday, and little did we know that it was going to be a Winter Wonderland! It had snowed several inches the day before and as we drove up to the winery we discovered that the fields were covered in an untouched blanket of snow.
We were greeted outdoors by a staff member who confirmed out reservation and we made out way down the path to the outdoor tent. The tent itself is impressive, it is made of sailcloth with two large wooden supports and the walls on the perimeter are clear, allow one to feel a part of nature. The tent was airy but had many heaters along with a ventilation system.
The setting was magical, the tables were eclectic and materials mixed throughout. The vibe was Boho and French country side. The tables were tastefully adorned with simple place settings, delicate flowers and candles and a single sprig of lavender across the menu.
Our server walked up through a tasting of seven wines, three white wines, two red wines, and two dessert wines. My favorites were the 2019 Heirloom Chardonnay and the 2020 Malbec. The tasting was very thoughtful and allowed us to compare the 2019 Pet Nat Chardonnay with the 2019 Heirloom Chardonnay, and the 2017 & 2020 Malbec. I found all the wines to be easy drinking and lovely. Although dessert wines are not my favorite due to the high sugar content. But alas, everyone has their preferences!
To accompany our tasting, everyone was brought an individual Cheese & Charcuterie plate. It probably doesn't surprise you that I was more interested in the charcuterie plate than I was the wine, but hey, this is a food blog after all. I've learned that Old Westminster recently brought on David Barboza as chef who has a passion for sourcing local ingredients. Besides the Pickled Carrots which came from Pennsylvania, everything on the plate was produced in Maryland.
The cheeses were all incredibly delicious and featured Rock Spring Camembert (Atwaters), Herb Colbere (Shepherds Manor Creamery), & Ebermergen Cheddar (Prigel Family Creamery). The meats were not anything that I would have purchased prior to this experience but I will snatch them up if I ever get the chance. We tasted the Duck Prosciutto and Pork Lomo from MeatCrafters. There were several additional accompaniments, Triple Berry Jam (Jill's Jams), Dimitri's Country Olive Mix which had a lovely bright lemon flavor, and Rye Crackers (Atwaters).
In addition to the Cheese & Charcuterie plate that was included in the tasting fee, we had the option to order from the kitchen and woodfired pizza oven as well. We ordered the 'You Butternut (Squash me)', 'The Fun Guy Pizza' & 'The American Pie', as well as the Creamy Tomato Soup. The food was all out of this world! The pizzas were thin with that slight char from the outdoor oven. Everything was balanced and thoughtful. We also ordered the 'Appley Ever After' and 'You Amousse Me' desserts which were unique and not too sweet.
After our tasting was complete, we were welcome to walk the perimeter to peruse items for sale from local makers. We were also welcome to purchase bottles of our favorite wines to take home.
This tasting transported us to an entirely different place, the atmosphere was inviting and all of the precautions made us feel incredibly safe and comfortable. I highly recommend visiting if you live in the region, however the tastings are only being offered until March 28th so you should book soon!
Check out what Old Westminster Winery is all about
After the tasting I knew that I wanted to help spread the word about Old Westminster Winery, and they were so kind to grant me an interview with AJ Eckstein.
A little history lesson: Old Westminster Winery established in 2010 and was previously a juniper nursery. The winery is run by three siblings, Drew, Lisa and Ashli Baker and they each tackle different aspects of the business. The gorgeous tasting room was built in 2015, and in non Covid times, it packed with loyal patrons at the tasting counter and tables.
But what I was most interested in was how they have pivoted in 2020 and developed the idea for the Tasting Table. AJ shared that they aimed to create a European small market feel that allowed patrons to still visit the property and have a safe, relaxed environment to enjoy their wines. David Barboza, a James Beard nominee joined the team in September and has transformed the menu to focus on seasonal yet approachable dishes while taking advantage of the amazing outdoor wood fired pizza oven.
What's next for Old Westminster Winery?
After the Field Market Tastings concludes at the end of March, the tent will be transformed into an open air market featuring local makers. This will open the first weekend of May along with another tent which will house a Farmers Market on Sundays from 10am-2pm. The property has outdoor seating for over 300 at picnic tables and all of the tables are spread out across the field and outdoor patio.
I look forward to visiting in the spring to enjoy some outdoor time with friends and I hope to see you there soon! Give Old Westminster a follow on Instagram and Facebook for the most up to date information.