By Morgan Pilz, Staff Writer
(Sept. 5, 2019) Situated on a 12.5-acre farm with a historic house, the Windmill Creek Vineyard and Winery, located on 11206 Worcester Hwy in Berlin, celebrated its first anniversary at the end of August.
Windmill Creek has been owned by the Mariner family for six generations, spanning nearly 100 years.
The first Mariners to own the farm were Edwin A. and Susan Mariner, who purchased the 164-acre property on July 19, 1924. The farm was passed down to their son, Edward Mariner and his wife, Gertrude, on April 5, 1949.
The story of the house itself is also a significant part of Worcester County history. It was built in 1858 by Lemuel Showell, the founder of the town of Showell.
His grandson, Lemuel, III, was the president of the Pocomoke Wicomico railroad that brought the railroad line into Ocean City, which started the tourism industry.
Edward was the first Mariner in the family to create recipes for homemade wine, fifth generation Jeanie Mariner said.
“We inherited the farm in 2015,” she said. “My daughter, [Brittany], was in school for analogy and viticulture. She went to college to learn to make wine and grow grapes. We knew we had this family farm that we were going to keep in the family, and we weren’t sure what to do with it, but we decided since she was going down the wine route, we would jump in and we opened the winery.”
The farm property was 164 acres until 2010, when other family members sold off portions of the land. It is now made up of 12.5 acres. On those acres, the family has 2,500 vines, albeit only three years old, which is two years too young to be used for wine making.
Currently, Windmill Creek sources its grapes from different vineyards across the country, including New Jersey, the Finger Lakes of New York, and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
The winery has five different varieties of wine – a Gruner Veltiner, Riesling, Chambourcin, a Summer Red and it just released a Rosé bottle this past Sunday. Prices range from $18-26 per bottle.
“All of my wines are going to be on the dry side,” Brittany Mariner said. “My Gruner wine is similar to a Pinot Grigio and it will have a lot of melon flavors toward the front and is very herbal with a nice clean dry finish. We have a dry Riesling, which is pretty unique because typical Rieslings around here are really sweet. We wanted to go more traditional of making them, so we went dry.
“Our Rosé is very fruit forward, also on the dry side, especially for a Rosé. You get a little bit of the floral tones in it as well, and my two reds the fruit comes from Western Maryland and they’re medium bodied. One has a little bit of a mocha cherry flavor to it and the other one is similar to a Pinot Noir,” she continued.
Brittany already has plans to grow her wine selection in the years to come.
“We’re going to be expanding the list year by year. Next year I’m looking at bringing in some heavier reds and build up my red list and then also bringing in another white,” she said. “Everybody in the family loves the dry wine and there’s a whole lot of sweet wines in Maryland so we’re trying to set ourselves apart. There’s nothing wrong with sweet wines … we’ll eventually have it on our menu, but for now, we want to stick with something that’s going to separate us.”
The reception for the wines has been praised by visitors to the area.
“The tourists seem to find us first because they’re Googling things to do when they’re in Ocean City, so they find us really easily,” Jeanie said. “But in the last two months, we’re seeing huge growth and in attendance of our evening events.”
In addition to selling wine, Windmill Creek farm offers several wine tastings. The cost is $5 per tasting sample. The Mariners can also hosts parties, luncheons and weddings and provide children friendly activities. Animals are also welcome to the farm.
Every Friday and Sunday, from 5-8 p.m., there is live music on the lawn.
“It’s just such a unique experience,” Brittany said. “We do the live music on the lawn. You can bring your family and your dogs. There’s not really a place here where every type of person in every age group is welcomed at all times. We have kid’s rooms in the farmhouse just for the parents and they can sip on their wines and the kids can play and not have to worry about breaking anything. It’s just unique for our area.”
The winery stays open 11 out of 12 months of the year, closing down in January to preform maintenance and check on the progress of the vines.
Windmill Creek Vineyard and Winery is open Monday through Thursday from noon to 7 p.m., and Friday through Sunday from noon to 9 p.m.
For more information about events at Windmill Creek Vineyard and Winery, visit www.windmillcreekvineyard.com or call 410-251-6122.