Catoctin Breeze helped to put Frederick wine on the world map this month, as they were awarded the best Syrah on the East Coast at the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition. Catoctin Breeze’s 2015 Syrah was awarded “Best Syrah” by a panel of 17 distinguished judges, competing against 467 entries from 89 wineries along the East Coast.
The awards ceremony was held in December on Capitol Hill with Senate and House members of the U.S. Congressional Wine Caucus, along with other Congressional members, Chiefs of Staff, and Legislative Assistants who work with the wine industry. Mike Lentini (winemaker) and Adam Fizyta (co-owner) were there to receive the award, but were quick to give the credit to their vineyard crew – the hardworking team tending the vines day after day, enabling them to grow beautiful fruit.
Located in northern Frederick County just south of Thurmont, the vineyard grows both red and white grapes. The combination of the unique site with their sturdy vineyard crew helps create unique and delicious wines. The Syrah and Cabernet Franc grapes grow on the southern face of their vineyard hill, on a 30 degree grade. The steep slope helps with drainage, which is very important for the health of the vines. The southern exposure allows the grapes to soak in the maximum amount of sunlight, which helps with ripening and drying off morning dew.
Unlike the red wines, the white grapes, which include Chardonnay, Viognier, and Albarino, grow on the eastern face of the vineyard hill. The Eastern slopes are exposed to the morning sun right after sunrise, to help dry the morning dew as well as to aid in ripening. The vineyard is a true labor of love, and their focus on a no-spray program means it is an all hands on deck operation to control the weeds throughout the vines. The Mount Saint Mary’s rugby team even comes in to help with pulling weeds throughout the vineyard.
Visit Catoctin Breeze’s beautifully designed new tasting room to experience handcrafted Frederick wine. Enjoy a glass of wine or a seasonal tasting as you overlook the vines and the Catoctin Mountains. As Adam Fizyta said “As they find their way, Maryland wineries will be a pioneer in the industry.”