Friday, January 26, 2007

Profile: Paul Roberts, Deep Creek Cellars - Maryland

It was as an apprentice at California's prestigious Chateau Montelena that Paul Roberts leaned how to make superb wine: start with quality grapes, and exercise imagination. Roberts sources fruit locally, regionally, and nationally, and also grows his own.

After 10 years of growing grapes in Deep Creek's Alpine climate, Roberts has learned that his Cabernet Franc are suited best to pink wines. He's particularly proud of his 2006 estate-grown Cabernet Franc rosé, due out in late spring. "You'll think it's from the Loire Valley."

The winery reflects Roberts' casual, rustic style, and the wines, nearly all dry, are bottled without filtration. From the quaint tasting room, to gravity-flow bottling and hand-labeling equipment, the focus is on nature and its resources. He is one of the nation's few winemakers to spell out his philosophy in a book — From This Hill, My Hand, Cynthiana's Wine (1999).

"Paul typifies what a growing industry needs; he's an innovator, and he's not afraid to take chances," says Dick Penna, grape grower and chair of the Maryland Wine and Grape Advisory Commission.

Retailer Mitchell Pressman, owner of Baltimore's top-rated Chesapeake Wines, says: "Paul is a brilliant winemaker who happens to have a small vineyard in western Maryland… The wine is delicious and unique."