The Albariño grape has found a home in a number of Maryland vineyards and, to a lesser extent, in some southern Pa. vineyards.
One of those is at The Vineyard at Grandview in Mt. Joy, Lancaster County, which is making many of the traditional vinifera wines but has supplemented those with lesser-known grapes such as Norton, Gruner Veltliner and Pinot Gris.
Albariño is another one of the less traditional grapes that the winery is testing. Planted in 2012, many had to be replanted the following year. Now, owner and winemaker Larry Kennel said in an email, they're beginning to see some payback for their patience.
"This is the third leaf and first harvest for our Albariño," he said Thursday. "I don't expect a large harvest, but the crop looks pretty good for the first vintage. So far the Albariño block is disease free and the bunches seem larger than I expected. Others have told me to expect a smaller crop load because of small/light clusters. We have planned for two fruiting wires to accommodate more shoots/vine to increase crop load. At this time the clusters seem not as tight as Chard, which should make it less prone to botrytis and late-season rots."
The celebration of the Spanish grape, one that has established a foothold in the mid-Atlantic, is set for next week.
Albariño has been a star at Maryland wineries such as Old Westminster, Boordyand Black Ankle, and will be celebrated internationally next week, a marketing initiative largely pushed by those connected with the many Spanish producers who consider this grape one of their staples.
Kennel said that he planted the grape to fill a niche, but it's a little soon too tell how much consumers will gravitate to what will be another dry white option on his list. That should be answered in the next couple years as his production of the grape increases.
"We chose Albariño to include another white that would be quite a bit different from our other white [Chardonnay]," he said. "It will likely be lighter and more acidic than the Chard. I will probably age in stainless steel rather than barrel. These predictions may change as we find out more about the variety after harvest. I'm pleased with it so far but the jury is still out."
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