Monday, July 09, 2007

Profiles of Maryland WInemakers Fred Wilson and Carl DiManno

Fred Wilson, Elk Run Vineyards
Mt. Airy is home to some of the state's most historic wineries, but also, one of the most award-winning winemakers in Maryland wine history. Elk Run Vineyards' Fred Wilson pursued an education in engineering before entering a 30-year career in the field as a naval architect with the U.S. Navy. Fred always had an interrest in wine, but he found this interest growing into a new career in the early '80s. Fred studied winemaking in France, Germany and in New York's famed Vinifera Wine Cellars under the instruction of Dr. Konstantine Frank – one of American wine's luminaries.

In 1983, Fred Wilson took the plunge and opened Elk Run Vineyards with his wife Carol. Continuing his engineering career, Fred remained director of the Naval Science Assistance Program with the US Navy until 1994, when he officially "retired" into the wine business.

Since then, Fred has won the Maryland Governor's Cup three times, and has won many gold and silver medals in international wine competitions. He has served as Maryland Wineries Association president and continues to be heavily involved in helping to grow the industry.

While focusing on growing quality fruit, Elk Run Vineyards has also pioneered certain grape varieties in Maryland, including Pinot Noir, Malbec and Gewurztraminer.

Carl DiManno, Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard
In 1997, Carl DiManno left Shell Oil in Louisiana to join Chevron Chemical in Northern California. While living in Oakland, Carl was “bitten” by the wine bug, often spending three weekends a month in the wine country. Soon after, he began to explore ways to get into the industry. These appear to include buying a vineyard, working up from the bottom as a “cellar rat” or going back to school. After careful review, Carl opted to pursue a Masters degree from the University of California at Davis (UCD).

While at Davis, Carl studied winemaking and conducted his research on the impact of micro-oxidation on the sensory characteristics of red wine. During the harvest of 2002, at Artesa Vineyards and Winery, under the tutelage of noted winemaker Don van Staaveren. His other winery experiences included DeSante Wines and Vine Cliff along with providing technical expertise to Winesecrets, a Napa based wine technology company.

As native east coasters, Carl and his wife Erin wanted to move “home.” In 2004, Carl started at Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard as vineyard manager. At the end of 2004, Carl began designing the winery and he served as winemaker for subsequent harvests. Carl remains active on the research side of the industry, reviewing grant proposals for American Vineyard Foundation and Viticultural Consortium – East and retains a small ownership stake in Winesecrets.