The Wine: Franc Fizz 2019
Old Westminister Franc Fizz is a sparkling natural wine made from 100% Cabernet Franc grapes farmed sustainably in Maryland. Low-intervention in the cellar for this great sparkler by Old Westminister. Serving temperature: 45 F.
The Producer: Old Westminister
Winemaking is a delicate and nuanced art. We believe that our family's collective expertise, meticulous vineyard care, and minimal intervention in the cellar enable us to produce distinctive wines that are a pleasure to drink. We know that there are misgivings about Maryland wine. But we also know that the ancient soil and climate of Maryland is an environment where world-class wines can be produced. So at Old Westminster Winery, we are boldly committed to putting Maryland wine on the world map. Here are the 4 guiding principles that we sincerely believe will get us there.
1. Done by hand
In our vineyards and cellar, everything is done by hand. From winter pruning, to summer hedging, to harvest, every step of our process is powered primarily by sweat, not oil. This method of farming offers our vines and wines a level of care few others experience. Our fingerprints are on every vine, every grape and every bottle. We choose to think of our farm as a living, breathing organism. Like a human body with a system of organs, a farm is a complex system of interacting substances and processes. It’s with this sense of reverence that we remember the generations who have come before us and our responsibility to preserve its legacy for generations to come.
2. Grown in Maryland
Our Home Vineyard rests at 800' above the sea on channery loam soils overlaying a bedrock of greenstone schist. As it turns out, greenstone is a favorite of grapevines in our region, contributing intense aromatics and distinct minerality to the wines. In addition to managing 10,000 estate vines on our own land, we work closely with neighboring vineyards to source grapes. Grüner Veltliner, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot from Cool Ridge Vineyard perched atop a limestone hillside on South Mountain. Cabernet Franc from the Links Bridge Vineyard on a secluded bank of the Monocacy River. Barbera and Pinot Grigio from Birchview Vineyard perched on a rocky hill just a few miles north of our farm.
Our multi-vineyard, Maryland-grown approach allows us to craft wines that reflect our region’s diverse geologies and variable climate. We’ve also set out to discover a new viticultural frontier in Clarksburg, Md dubbed The Burnt Hill Project. This wild hillside is named after the fires early settlers used to revitalize the land. In the early 1800's farmers found it difficult to grow crops on this rocky hill, so instead they burned timber to make charcoal, lye and potash for cooking, soap making and fertilizer. Fast forward 200 years and we believe the Burnt Hill name reflects the potential of this vineyard site.
As the Romans discovered millennia ago, the best wines aren’t grown on flat, fertile land; they’re grown high on rocky hills where other crops don’t thrive. Burnt Hill is an extraordinary farm with a new purpose: growing mighty grapevines that yield wines with distinctive character you can taste. This hillside – with all its elements in harmony – will yield wines unlike anywhere else on earth.
3. Sustainable farming
Sustainability is of utmost importance to us. We implement a pragmatic farming program using environmentally sound materials. We systematically rotate sprays to avoid resistance and reduce the volume of necessary applications. We use diverse cover crops to entice beneficial insects and promote healthier vines with stronger immune systems that demand fewer inputs. We maintain complete cover crops on our vineyard floor year-round rather than cultivate, which releases carbon into the atmosphere and disrupts soil structure, or use herbicides that kill weeds and reduce life in the soil. We incorporate Biodynamic preparations 500, 501 and 508. We consider the consequences of everything we do. Nature’s rhythms are delicate, so we farm with a light hand. Learn more here.
4. Attention to detail
In our winery, the goal is to produce a balanced and authentic wine that reflects both the vineyard and vintage. Our winemaker, Lisa Hinton, achieves this by timeliness and attention to detail. Hand-sorting fruit as it runs across the sorting table, fermenting with indigenous yeast and avoiding unnecessary additions like enzymes, yeast nutrients, oak chips and fining agents are practices that we embrace. Our approach isn’t the easy way, but we believe a bottle of wine reflects its maker’s passion. We invite you to experience Maryland wine at its best!
The Region: Maryland