Byrd did not produce any of its celebrated gewurztraminer in 1990, and its 1988 cabernet has not been released, so its top wine was its mature, toasty, very ripe 1987 chardonnay -- a controversial style of wine that some would find overblown. I liked it, but it won't have universal appeal.
Byrd's second label, William Byrd, offers two good values in its 1987 chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon, both of which sell for about $7.50.
The overall performance of Maryland wineries underscores the fine potential of the state's vineyards. And from all reports, 1991 may be the finest vintage in the state since at least 1983.
Nevertheless, unless some new blood comes into the industry, the future of the festival looks shaky. Maybe not next year -- Byrd and Montbray will probably still have some inventory to sell -- but down the road it faces a real problem.
What can be done? Not much, unless some new wine pioneers step forward. Probably the best strategy would be to broaden the festival to include south Pennsylvania producers such as Allegro, Chaddsford and Naylor.
It's worth a shot. The Maryland Wine Festival is a great event, and it's worth saving.
The following winners of the 1991 Maryland wine competition were announced at the Maryland Wine Festival last weekend:
0$ 1985 Catoctin Cabernet Sauvignon
Best of Class
1988 Liberty Tavern Cabernet Sauvignon (Elk Run Vineyards)
1990 Basignani Marisa
1990 Basignani Riesling
1989 Boordy Vidal Blanc