By Megan Reilly
Spring has sprung and the Basignani family is hard at work meticulously caring for their crop of grapes and preparing to bottle wine. With 19 years of experience, they have had much practice perfecting their product. According to Lynne Basignani, her husband Bert, comes from a long line of winemakers. After obtaining a degree in economics from Towson University, he decided to carry on the family tradition when he purchased land in Sparks, Md. The vineyard that started with a mere 60 vines, has grown to 10 acres and is now producing over 6,000 gallons of wine each year. An addition 10 acres in Carroll and Baltimore counties, has also helped them harvest success.
The first wine Basignani Winery produced was a red blend. It remained nameless for 15 years, according to Lynne. It seemed only fit for the couple to name their blends after their children, considering their wines are their other babies. Today, the original red blend is now known as Marisa, after their daughter. Marisa may be their first, but their most popular is their Riesling. “It sells out every year,” she says. In fact, they’ve already sold 200 cases and it hasn’t even been bottled yet. While it may be popular, Lynne doesn’t think it is their best. “I think our best wines are our red wines like our Cabernet,” she adds.
Fans of Basignani wines have followed the signs from Interstate 83, driven along the winding roads, and parked upon the cobblestones in the driveway to sample wines, tour the establishment and attend events held annually. Every September, people come out to the vineyard to take part in the harvest, which lasts about six weeks. “It’s a fun time, we have a big harvest lunch after picking and we have people come back annually. It’s a tradition,“ says Lynne. Although they have employees who would be willing to pick the grapes, they don’t want to lose contact with their clients.
Bruce Webster, a resident of Baltimore County, takes pride in being a wine fanatic and has spent much time touring and tasting at local wineries. He lists Basignani as one of the most beautiful pieces of land in the area. As for the wines, Webster says, “Basignani presents a very balanced wine list, with good selections to be found in both white and red wines, and also both dry and sweet wines. Notable bottles are their dual Chardonnays and their Seyval for white wines, their Marisa and Lorenzino Reserve blended red wines, and their excellent Riesling from their sweet wine selection. Any of these wines, or many others from this vineyard, would be a fine addition to any collection.”
Success doesn’t always come without suffering obstacles along the way. Lynne attributes sales to be a prominent hurdle they have had to jump in their years of business. “In the early days, it was more difficult to sell. We’d come back discouraged,” she says. Now Maryland wine is becoming more popular and gaining credence. Lynne attributes the wine festivals emitting more awareness, which has led to the sales problem dwindling.
The hard work put into the crop every year, has brought Basignani Winery many accomplishments. Lynne is most proud of her Lorenzino Reserve. “We have won medals in California against the best wines in the world for it,” she said. Although awards help gain recognition, the most touching part for her is seeing their wines on store shelves and realizing that people are enjoying something they created. “Watching the people who visit take their first taste and seeing their reaction is just a great feeling,” she adds.
Bert Basignani started his winery because of his family tradition. That same family tradition is what motivates Bert and Lynne to keep planting vines and making wines. According to Lynne, they want to create a great legacy for their children to carry on and enjoy. They have reached the point that shortly in the future, they will have something to leave them that won’t cost them money, but make them money. That is their long-term goal.
“There are also great rewards in meeting wonderful people who enjoy wine and the finer things in life,” Lynne adds. The short-term goal is to get more people drinking their wines. “We started doing more events at the winery like movies in the summer on the big screen. We’re always thinking of more ways to get people out here to taste so the word will spread, and people will buy our wines,” she said.
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