Chateau Bu-De: Cultivating Quality on Maryland’s Eastern Shore

In 2013, Brenda and Warren Dedrick purchased the 440 acre Bohemia Manor Farm located on the shores of the Bohemia River in Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  History shows that in 1660, 4 thousand acres of land, including the present day Bohemia Manor, was given by Lord Baltimore to Augustine Herrman, a Bohemian cartographer in compensation for his mapping the waterways of the Chesapeake. Brenda and Warren chose this site to commence their dream of producing fine wines.  They planted vines, built a 5 thousand case capacity winery and began assembling the vineyard and wine-making teams to make that dream come true.  We review the Bu-De’s current releases in this article; we reviewed earlier vintages in our 2019 report on The Wines of Maryland.  

The estate’s 20 acre vineyard sits on a clay and sandy loam slope fronting the Bohemia River. It is currently planted to Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Gruner Veltliner, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, and their current production (roughly 2,500 cases) is comprised of 30% reds and 70% whites. Since our last report their grapes have become almost 100% estate grown.  

Winemaker Jacques & Wife Lauren

The winemaker is Jacques van der Vyver who comes to the Eastern Shore via South Africa. Jacques earned a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with a focus on Oenology & Viticulture from the University of Stellenbosch’s Elsenburg College.  He previously made wine at South Africa’s prestigious Waterkloof Winery.  When asked how his South Africa experience prepared him for his work in Maryland, his response was that the question should be asked in reverse.  His work in Maryland, i.e., its challenges with climate, rain, frost, and vineyard pests, actually has been a valuable learning experience for winemaking anywhere. He appreciates the early ripening of grapes that happens in the Chesapeake region, but fluctuating rainfall is a challenge.  Although 2019 was a good year, 2020 has been challenged by excess rain.  

The Vineyard Manager, Brian Dickerson, is part of a farming family in Pennsylvania. Both Jacques and the Dedricks were impressed with Brian’s other winery clients, and hired him to cultivate high quality grapes for them.  Working with Brian over the years, Jacques has become more involved with what is happening in the vineyard and feels he and Brian have cultivated a quality team for Chateau Bu-De. 

Bu-De’s response to the pandemic of course required the cancellation of the tastings by the glass, but offer plenty of outdoor space for picnicking with a bottle of wine as well as a large indoor ballroom where guests can enjoy Chateau Bu-De wines while respecting COVID restraints for health and safety.  They were able to keep their staff employed, although it did require the tasting room staff learn how to prune and sucker the vines!  

The Wines 

Bohemia Manor Farm 2018 Shoreline I Maryland ($23) 90  With Chablis-like minerality on the nose, this white blend offers a firm structure and almost austere palate of lemony citrus and green herbs. Finishes very clean and medium long, again evoking chalky minerals and lingering citrus notes.  Estate grown 58% Chardonnay, 42% Sauvignon Blanc matured 8 months in French oak. 11.7% alc

Bohemia Manor Farm 2019 Augustine Herrman Rose II Maryland ($22) 89  Strawberry with a touch of pomegranate on the nose.  Soft on the attack with light flavors that mirror the nose. There’s good freshness and fullness on a softly textured, medium weight palate and lingering ripe red berry flavors.  A blend of 62% Cabernet Franc and 38% Cabernet Sauvignon aged 3 months before bottling. 12.7% alc

Bohemia Manor Farm 2016 Dickerson Red Pennsylvania ($36) 91  Medium ruby red.  Spicy red cherry and plum show on an effusive nose.  The beautiful silky attack carries through the palate revealing spicy, concentrated red and dark red fruit and well-integrated toasty oak. Long very flavorful and very fresh finish with fine firm tannins.  A Right Bank blend of 77% Merlot and 23% Cabernet Sauvignon from southern PA vineyards. Matured in French oak for 16 months. 12.6% alc.

Bohemia Manor Farm 2017 Kartograf Maryland I  ($50) 92  Dark ruby.  Dark red cassis and berries show on the nose.  A well-focused wine with a nice firm backbone.  It’s mouth filling with very good depth of dark red fruit complemented by seamlessly integrated toasty oak and a minerality that evokes slate.  Still a youthful wine with good aging capacity.  A blend of 90% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon matured 26 months in 35% new French oak. 14% alc.

Contributing Editor Karen Stokes authored this article.

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