On Sunday afternoon, March 19, 2017, we drove 3.1 miles over to the winery closest to us — Gemeny Winery and Vineyards (click here to see their listing in our Food & Drink Business Directory, with address and driving directions)— to taste their wares and see what the neighbors were up to. To compare distances, for us it is 9.6 miles to Janemark Winery and Vineyard and 10.1 miles to Romano Vineyard and Winery. Gemeny first opened in August of last year. Getting there can seem a bit daunting given you have to go through a barricade on Cedarville Road with a big sign that says “Road Closed. Local Traffic Only.” Fortunately, the road isn’t truly closed until just beyond the turn-off for the winery a little farther along. The closure is due to work being done to replace the bridge over Mattawoman Creek — a project long overdue (the Mattawoman were a group of native Americans who lived in this area when the English colonists arrived).
We used Google Maps to guide us there, and it brought us right to the front door of the tasting room, which looked to be in a quite-modern two-story barn-like structure. Parking was ample, and as we entered we saw there was only one other couple visiting. The tasting room was warm and welcoming with dark wood paneling, doorways, and ceiling-beams, a light yellow ceiling, with bright yellow-orange walls decorated with photographs, banners, and light-sconces.
From behind the bar, we were greeted by Bill Livingston, who is in charge of the front of the house, who was being helped-out by a friend of the Gemenys, Jenny Wright (her son was in the fermentation room, playing with his toy trucks). Livingston is the husband of Mike Gemeny, the soft-spoken engineer who mainly works behind the scenes overseeing the wine-making equipment, along with Sean Henderson, who (if my understanding is correct), handles the chemistry side of things. Those three, Gemeny, Livingston, and Henderson are the primary folks involved in Gemeny Winery and Vineyards, which is on 200 acres of a farm that has been in the Gemeny family since 1897. At the moment, only two acres are planted with grapes, but they plan to devote more acreage to grapes over time.
Livingston and Wright presented us with a tasting menu, which offered four options (the reserve wine, or the whites, or the reds, or all of them), of which we selected “all of them” for $10 each. That option provided us with sips of:
- 2014 Vidal Blanc
- 2o14 Pinot Gris
- 2014 Chardonnay Naked
- 2014 Chardonnay Oaked
- 2014 Treminette Naked
- 2014 Treminette Oaked
- 2015 Jouster’s Jubilee, Reserve
- 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2014 Rougeon
- 2014 Norton
All the whites were made with juice from New York State. Of the red wines, the Rougeon was made from New York grape juice, and the other two were made from grapes grown on the Gemeny farm. Unlike the other Southern Maryland wineries we’ve visited, there was no Chambourcin on offer. Apparently these folks like to be different. In addition to the items on the menu, we also got to taste a 2015 Cabernet Franc, and a preview of their 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (to be available for purchase in a couple weeks). Our favorite wines of the afternoon proved to be the 2014 Chardonnay Naked (“naked” in this instance meaning un-oaked) and the 2014 Chardonnary Oaked. We bought two bottles of the Naked and one bottle of the Oaked.
A Tour of Gemeny
Following the tasting, we asked them if they gave tours. They said “Sure, would you like one?” “Of course,” we said. Livingston and Wright handed-us off to Mike Gemeny, who escorted us into the wine making room, where we got to see the huge steel vats where the wine is made (that’s where we also got to meet Sean Henderson). From those vats, we were given a taste of some of their estate whites (that is, wine from grapes grown on the farm and not brought in from New York):
- 2015 Pinto Gris
- 2015 Traminette
- 2014 Traminette
Next we were off to the “Lab” where they experiment with various new types and mixtures of wines. It was also the garage for the house behind the big barn where the current operations take place. The garage is where they got their start in wine-making, a not unusual place to begin for many start-up businesses. The reason we got to go to the Lab was because we had asked if they make any sparkling wines (which are a favorite of my wife Cindy), and that is the one place they had some.
It turned out to be stored in a dorm-size refrigerator in a keg with a tap. A dream come true — bubbly on tap! It was a Chardonnay that had gone a bit south on them, which they had worked to save by adding carbonation. From what we tasted, they made a pretty good save.
If you decide to visit, note that they do sell some packaged cheeses, crackers, and sausages to nibble on while you enjoy your wine, but you’re also welcome to bring your own food — there are tables and chairs inside and there’s a picnic table outside. They’re also happy to share their WiFi connection with you if you want to go online while tasting. You just need to ask for the password.
Oh… and about the name. The original spelling of the name was Gemini (of Italian origin), but folks tended to pronounce it as Jem-En-Eye, but the family wanted it pronounced Jem-En-Eee, so changed the spelling to achieve the desired pronunciation. In places, such as the embroidered logos and names you see on the staff’s shirts, you may see it spelled both ways. Note that the logo on the menu and above the the tasting-room entrance spells it Gemini. ♦