With a population thirsty for craft experiences, breweries, wineries, and distilleries are thriving in Maryland. As part of Maryland Wine Month, we are highlighting The Wine Collective—one of the state’s newest members of the agribusiness industry.
Baltimore’s long-awaited winery is nearly open for business at Union Collective.
The Wine Collective will soon open its tasting room to visitors, inside a 12,000 square-foot collaborative space in Hampden.
The decision to set up shop in Baltimore was made by business partners Enrique Pallares and John Levenberg, who wanted to open their own winery and have their own brand, but also operate a cooperative wine facility.
Pallares is the owner of Casa Carmen, a boutique family winery in Chestertown on the Eastern Shore; Levenberg is an award-winning winemaker from California who has been making wine on the East Coast for the past 10 years. Together, the two have decades of experience in the industry and have lived all across the globe, including time in Argentina, France, Spain, New Zealand, Ecuador, and California.
With this new venture, the duo wants to give customers a taste of their experiences around the world.
The Wine Collective is set to produce 7,000 cases per year, but can potentially produce up to 12,000 cases. With state-of-the-art equipment – including steel tanks from South Africa, oak barrels from France, and the best wine press available on the market – the mission is to create a winery that is on par with the best global wineries.
“We’re obsessed with quality, in both wine and food,” said Pallares. “What we’re trying to bring here is a world-class winery and food venue for people to experience what that is really like.”
Pallares says Baltimore’s manufacturing history made him fall in love with area and he’s deeply committed to helping it succeed. The revitalization of old warehouses and mills – turning them into something new and exciting – is something Pallares is proud to be a part of.
“It’s the small projects like this that benefit the community,” he said.
The business has invested $1.3 million into its Baltimore facility and is raising the last $100,000 through crowdfunding efforts; in this case, it’s a partnership with Honeycomb Credit and the Maryland Neighborhood Exchange. As the neighborhood exchange looks to invest in local and minority-owned businesses, and Honeycomb expands its reach to help neighborhood businesses boost the local economy, it’s only appropriate that the pairing’s first fundraising project in Maryland would be Baltimore City’s first urban winery.
“We’ve been lucky enough to raise the funds and get the investments needed to bring this project together,” said Pallares. “We’re really trying to raise the bar with the kind of wine that’s produced and create a bridge between the rural and the urban in Maryland.”
The co-op portion of The Wine Collective allows Casa Carmen and four other local wineries to collaborate and save money by utilizing the facility’s equipment, including the newly-formed Philosophy Winery and Vineyard, the first female, African American-run winery in the state.
“It’s great – there’s such a need for these services,” Pallares said of the collaborative atmosphere. “We’ve been in the industry for a while and we’ve seen a real need for it.”
The Wine Collective’s tasting room will offer a pintxo bar – a Northern Spain-version of tapas (or small plates) – local produce, charcuterie, European tinned fish, and more. Tours and wine-making workshops will also be available on site.
“The more that people know about wine, the more people fall in love with wine,” Pallares said.
Set up a time to visit and learn more about The Wine Collective at winecollective.vin.