Competition in the wine business is very different from most other businesses. While a car salesman might prefer his competitors to go out of business, wine-makers thrive on having other wineries around them. Travelers who visit one winery usually want to visit several in one day. That's why Cassinelli Winery & Vineyards is making large strides for the progress of wineries in Queen Anne's County, MD. Just last year, Al Cassinelli gave away over 2,000 vines to visitors and friends to spark interest in growing grapes. Al said he hopes someone will fill the holes in the wine trail and add to the growing attention MD wineries are getting. This is a man who welcomes the idea of neighbors.
A winery isn't just a pub in a field, and visiting a winery is about more than drinking wine. It's about the process of wine-making, and the culture behind it. It's agro-tourism. You can try the wine and then go out to see the same grapes on the vine. Revealing the craftsmanship behind wine-making creates a sense of appreciation for what comes out of the bottle. Al Cassinelli is very passionate about making quality wines. He wants to see MD catch up with Virginia and Pennsylvania as a winemaking state, and quality is the secret to staying on that track. If a batch of wine didn't make it, he'll dump it, rather than sneak it along to vendors as some wine-makers might do.
With over 9,000 vines on his farm, Cassinelli is fourth in the state for vines per acre. The road into the vineyard is also lined with Japanese plum trees, which were ripe with fruit when we visited. It was truly the vision of a pastoral setting. Al even takes the plums to market, so nothing on his property goes to waste.
Presently, Al Cassinelli is working on expanding his list of wines to include reserves and sweeter wines. His clientele has inquired about both enough to warrant this next step. For all this innovation, dedication, and great-tasting wines, we will be looking forward to more from Cassinelli for years to come.
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Written by Erik Yount. Photography by Errol Webber.