Serpent Ridge Vineyard Review
Address: 2962 Nicodemus Rd Westminster,Maryland 21157.
Phone Number: 410-848-6511
Tasting Hours: Sat-Sun 10:30-6:00, Wed-Fri 10:00-3:00 and by appt.
Reviewer: Jim Finley
Review Date: 7/12/2014
Reviewer: Jim Finley
Located 45 minutes northwest of Baltimore, Maryland, Serpent Ridge Vineyards is a small, 2.5 acre vineyard originally planted by Greg and Karen Lambrecht in 2002. In 2013, the winery and vineyard, which produced about 1000 cases, was purchased by the Lambrechts’ friends Hal Roche and Karen Smith.
Rather than the usual farmhouse on rolling hills, Serpent Ridge feels more like a mountain resort. The narrow, tree-lined access road opens up to a small but well-detailed tasting room and a vineyard-covered hill to the east. Although I was the only guest at the tasting room at 10:00 on a Saturday (imagine that), it wasn’t hard to imagine guests making full use of the patio and picnic tables to sip wines while enjoying the view. The tasting room displays local art and has a few tables and a bar for tasting. There is also a flat screen TV located behind the bar that gives the room a bit of a bar feel. Adding to that effect was the server’s shirt that said “zero to naked in 1.5 bottles” and the classic rock tunes in the background.
All of Serpent Ridge’s wines are dry except for a dessert wine named “Slither.” There is also a jug of Sangria that sits at the end of the counter for those with a sweet tooth. Six wines were available for tasting during my visit including two whites, three reds and the dessert wine. Although dry Seyval Blancs tend to be relatively thin with high acid levels, the Serpent Ridge’s 2011 was excessively bitter. Fortunately, the remaining wines righted the boat and demonstrated why Serpent Ridge has won gold medals at various international wine competitions during the last few years.
Only a handful of Maryland wineries grow the Spanish grape Albarino, and Serpent Ridge is one of them. Serpent Ridge’s 2011 shows good typicity with mild apple and apricot flavors and a touch of minerality, all of which make Albarino such an interesting, and food friendly, varietal. The 2011 Bailisk (25% Cabernet Franc, 75% Cabernet Sauvignon) and the 2010 Vintner’s Cabernet Sauvignon are both very good wines. Though they are both a bit thin, they are fairly complex and highlight both the Maryland fruit and the judicious use of French and American oak. If you are a fan of big, bold, fruity, California Cabernet Sauvignon, these wines probably won’t impress. On the other hand, if you appreciate old world-style wines with a touch of herbal greenness, you’ll appreciate Serpent Ridge’s red wines.
Serpent Ridge is a good example of a small winery focusing on a few things, and doing them well. There isn’t a wide selection of wines, but the wines they do produce are high quality. The tasting room is bright and inviting, the vineyard views from the porch are invigorating, and the service is friendly and knowledgeable.