A little bit of the sweet life is right in our own backyard.

You’ve probably seen Boordy Vineyard’s wine on the shelves at your favorite neighborhood liquor store, but have you visited the place where it all happens? 

Rob and Julie Deford, co-owners of Boordy, recently hosted a dinner for about 30 of us at the vineyard to learn more about their family-owned-and-operated vineyard. The menu inspiration? Boordy’s Sweetland Cellars wines, the new identity for the vineyard’s line of unique grape and fruit wine blends. While the wines are deliciously refreshing on hot summer nights (we had a chance to taste them when we first arrived), they also are a perfect muse for inspired cocktails. Who wouldn’t want to fashion a cocktail from wines with names like Jazz Berry, Tango Peach, Viva Sangria, White Sangria, and Zinberry?

What resonated with me — even more than the wine — was the graciousness and kindness of the Deford family. Not only were they truly delighted to meet everyone at the dinner, they were genuinely passionate about the product they create. There’s something magical about that.

Boordy-Sweetland-H.004

Boordy-Sweetland-V.007

Boordy-Sweetland-H.001

Winemaking at Boordy is a family affair and passion that has been handed down through generations. Wines are handmade made by artisans through a natural, patient process. To begin, artisans combine the pure juices of grapes and fruits into a blend, which is then slowly fermented at a cool temperature. The fermentation process is closely monitored and stopped once the blend reaches the desired level of sweetness. Natural ingredients, such as citrus peels and select spices, are then steeped in the wine for several weeks using the equivalent of giant, handmade tea bags. The wines are then filtered and bottled immediately to preserve the highest level of freshness.

Boordy-Sweetland-V.006

But creative touches are not limited to winemaking at the vineyard. Julie’s style and creativity are evident throughout the charming space, especially during dinner. From her hand-painted grapes on the dinner menus to the gorgeous succulent centerpieces. Julie, a former MICA grad, started working at Boordy while she was in college.

“I married the boss and never left,” she quipped, smiling.

Boordy-Sweetland-V.005

Boordy-Sweetland-H.003

sweetland cocktail and food pairings

Chef Chad Gauss from The Food Market created delicious small plate pairings with each cocktail creation. He joked that he wanted to show how creative home chefs can be in the kitchen when inspired by Sweetland wines and fresh, local ingredients. Definitely inspired. Not sure my home culinary skills are up to par yet, but looking forward to being a little more adventurous with flavors! 

Boordy-Sweetland-V.001

Lamb + Zinberry Smash
Rack of Lamb (coffee, black garlic, goat cheese, chimichurri) with a Zinberry Smash (Zinberry, vodka, blueberries, lemon, ginger ale, soda water, mint).Boordy-Sweetland-V.002

Duck + Jazz Berry Chocolate Martini
Pan Seared Duck Breast (cherry, chocolate, pecan) + Jazz Berry Chocolate Martini (Jazz Berry, chocolate vodka).

Boordy-Sweetland-V.003

Shrimp + White Sangria Fizz
Spicy Grilled Shrimp (charred pineapple pudding) and White Sangria Fizz (White Sangria, vodka, apple juice, club soda).

Boordy-Sweetland-V.004

Tuna + Peach on the Beach
Tuna Tartare (everything spiced aioli, dried veggies, wheat toast) and Peach on the Beach (Tango Peach, Citron Vodka, Raspberries, 7Up).

visiting Boordy Vineyard

Visiting Boordy (in Hydes, a short drive from Towson) is a perfect idea for ‘bit of the sweet life’ date escape. Tours and tastings are held daily (Monday – Saturday, 10 AM – 5 PM; Sunday, 1 PM – 5 PM). If getting out without the kids isn’t an option, head to Boordy for their Good Life Farmers Markets on Thursday afternoons or for their Summer Evening Concerts on Saturdays.  Both are kid-friendly — but remember, Boordy is a working farm. Be sure to respect signs and keep kids off fences and trees.