Maryland Wine In Pursuit of Excellence
Another winery that has seen a similar acceleration in profile and success is Black Ankle, in Mount Airy, about a 45-minute drive west of Baltimore. Founded by former management consultants (and couple) Sarah O’Herron and Ed Boyce, they purchased a 146-acre parcel in 2002 and soon planted grapes. Six years later they opened for business, buoyed by a Governor’s Cup award before they had released their first wine.
Now one of the East Coast’s top wineries, Black Ankle has created a demand and supply unlike any other producer in the state, evident by a wine club that has topped 2,300 and necessitated an expansion of its tasting room that will be completed this fall.
Achieving excellence, O’Herron said recently, is through consistency.
“We take the most pride not in our best wine, but in our worst, which we go to great pains to ensure will still be good,” she said. “One of the best compliments that we get from customers is that they feel safe trying, sharing or giving any of our wines as a gift, because they know it will be good. That reliability across vintages, varietals and blends is what we strive for.”
The challenges to attaining the reliability, she said, are numerous, starting with the vagaries of the climate and the effects on each vintage.
“I believe that consistency is the key to growing our region,” she said. “By consistency, I do not mean sameness – there is plenty of room for a huge variety of styles, tastes, and price points, but what customers want to know is what to expect, and they want to get it every time. We don’t need to all be making ‘hand-crafted high quality wine,’ but whatever we go for, customers should know what to expect.”