A Maryland Wineries Association Member Spotlight
The story of the modern farmer is told in many ways. Many Maryland farmers have found ways to diversify and add value to their businesses. Crow Vineyard & Winery, located in Kennedyville, Maryland, is a family farm that has operated for three generations and is promising to be an destination for wine enthusiasts and tourists well into the future. Featuring a “farmstay” experience through the B&B on the property, Crow Vineyard & Winery offers guests an opportunity to see what local agriculture means to the families who operate these businesses and learn about the land from which their favorite products come.
We had a chance to speak with Judy Crow about Crow Vineyard & Winery for this installment of Cellar Chats.
What is the area around Crow Vineyard & Winery historically known for?
Kent County Md. is a Rural county mostly know for row crops; corn, soybeans, wheat, hay and dairy. There are a variety waterways that attract boaters in the summer months. Chestertown a quaint colonial town has many shops and restaurants. Rock Hall is on the Chesapeake bay and features a tourist industry in the summer months. Know for restaurants that serve local seafood.
Crow Vineyard & Winery is located on a third generation working farm, what has the farm produced throughout the generations?
The farm has been in Roy Crow’s family for 3 generations. For many years the 365 acre dairy farm was an active farm. In 2001 the dairy herd was sold and Roy purchased a Nationwide Insurance Company in Middletown, Del. In 2006 Roy meet Judy and they set on a path to diversify the family farm.
How did Crow Vineyard & Winery come to be the business that is currently operating on the farm?
In 2008 Roy and Judy got married and renovated the 1847 farm house for a farmstay B&B. They had 10 head of angus beef and began to increase the herd, which is now 100 head. Beef sales, farmstay B&B and the planting of a vineyard was all part of the planning for the agritourism experience. In 2011 they built a winery in a space that used to be a dirt floor equipment shed. The winery today produces 5,000 cases-per-year in a state of the art facility. The vineyard has 12 acres of grapes that Brandon Hoy their son manages.
Where did the idea of making the farm a destination for travelers to visit and stay originate?
The idea was Judy’s. It takes new vision to breath life into an old farm life.
How important is it that your business educates people while keeping them engaged and entertained?
Judy has 30 years experience in higher education and firmly believes that knowledge and experience resonate with folks that have not been able to stay on a working farm. Guest are offered to feed the animals, help in the vineyard, tour the winery, and brush the mini horses.
How many grape varietals are grown on the vineyard and which grape stands out as the “favorite” in the mind of the Crow team?
Vidal Blanc and Barbera are the grapes that we are most proud of our success in wine making. The Vidal blanc is made three ways–a semi dry wine, a sparkling wine, and a dessert wine. There 8 different varieties are planted
How imperative is it to your business to host unique experiences and events?
When a winery opens its doors to find their way to customers you try anything. We had a commitment to wine & food-centric events/experience that offer education. While we tried a variety of events we now believe we now know our niche. A quality tasting room experience for our guest means that the owners are in the tasting room spending time with guest, telling the story while supporting the sales team. We are farmers and connecting our customers to our farming community is also very important to us. We serve local cheese in our tasting room, and local ice cream both products made in conjunction with our wines. Our family is very important to us and we share our family with the customers, also we treat our staff as family. The customers sometimes think everyone that works for us is a relative. This means a great deal to us. We believe in quality animal care and sustaining the land that we are blessed to care for. We garner great pleasure allowing our customers to come to know our commitment to growing quality animals, crops and making quality wines.
Are there any new or specials releases planned for 2019?
Estate grown Malbec – a new Vidal dessert – a new Malbec and merlot rose.
Do you have plans for Maryland Wine Month?
Crow Vineyard & Winery will host a Chili Cook Off on March 3rd–local restaurants bring on the chili and guests vote for the best one. All proceeds from this event go the the Kent County Humane Society. We’ll also host a Oyster and Wine event on March 9th. We have a Wine Dinner at the Kitty Knight House, a historical restaurant on the Sassafras River. Beat the winter duldrums with a family-style dinner on March 23. During Maryland Wine Month guests will be offered tastings of local cheese and Crow Farms summer sausage or flank steak samples each weekend.