Tucked away on a quaint 38-acre property in Thurmont lies a little-known winery full of rich experiences, friendly faces, and, of course, plenty of wine.
Links Bridge Vineyards, off Old Links Bridge Road, provides local residents a refreshing getaway from life’s stresses, with a variety of red and white wines sure to please even the pickiest wine connoisseurs.
The small-scale winery is run by Bob and Joan Cartier, a couple who has been creating wine for a decade. While the pair normally focus on dry wines, a rainy 2018 forced the Cartiers to improvise, beginning to make a few sparkling wines for the future.
“We started selling the grapes to Old Westminster, and we’d go over there and help process them, and it was just so interesting what they were doing,” Joan said. “So we decided that maybe we could try making wine ourselves.”
The area is perfectly fit for an intimate setting with friends and family, without the commotion and traffic of a big facility. “We’re right on the Monocacy River, and we have a picnic area and a patio down by the river,” Joan said. “People can bring a picnic, buy a bottle of wine, and go down to the river.”
The science of wine making is far from exact, and recipes are often hard to recreate. Many things can affect the taste of a wine from batch to batch, including weather, temperatures, different grape harvests, and many other often unknown factors.
The Cartiers are relatively new to the scene of wine making, with both having previous careers far outside their current field. Robert was an assistant dean at a university, and Joan still does work in Washington D.C. Wine making is a much more relaxing profession than the stresses of running a university. “It’s a nice change,” they both said in unison.
With a small winery, keeping customers aware and interested in events can be a challenge. Links Bridge offers wine tastings on weekends, where you can try numerous different reds and whites with cheese and crackers. But there is more on the horizon for Links Bridge winery. The vineyard plans to host goat yoga, a hot new fad, connecting goats with the relaxation and zen of yoga. Miniature goats will climb onto the backs of participants, who balance the goats in a series of poses and stretches. The vineyard even has plans to have a wine stop for people tubing down the Monocacy River.
The growth of the wine industry has taken off since the rise of social media. Today, people can find something they enjoy and share it with the world; so, naturally, wine fits perfectly into that idea. The exposure of good wines and great food have opened wineries up all over Maryland.
“When we first started growing grapes, there were 15 or 20 wineries in Maryland,” Bob said. “Now there are 90-some wineries in Maryland, and that’s happened in the space of a dozen years.”
With the couple’s passion for making great wines, it’s no surprise that Links Bridge Vineyards has exceeded expectations for a small Thurmont winery. Whether it’s a bottle of wine by the river, or a wine tasting among close friends, Links Bridge has something to offer everyone, and that’s something worth getting excited about.
Links Bridge Vineyards is located at 8830 Old Links Bridge Road in Thurmont. Visit the website at linksbridgevineyards.com.
Bob and Joan Cartier, proprietors of Links Bridge Vineyards in Thurmont.
Photo by Blair Garrett