Skip to main content

Cecil County Life

The architecture of a very long and incredible dream

May 25, 2018 08:52AM ● By J. Chambless

Winemaker Jacques van der Vyver, Owner Brenda Dedrick and Marketing Director Abigail Miller at Chateau Bu-De Winery's new tasting room. (Photo by Richard Gaw)

By Richard L. Gaw
Staff Writer

The creation, formation and realization of a dream – much like the layers of mastery that go into the making of a single glass of wine – takes time.

For Brenda Dedrick, who has owned the Chateau Bu-De Winery in Chesapeake City with her husband

Warren since 2013, her dream to own a vineyard began when she was in college. The dream took them to many countries around the world – the French Bordeaux Region, Chile and South Africa, among them – and at nearly every one of the thousands of vineyards they visited, Brenda took photographs, capturing the many architectural styles of vineyards and tasting rooms. In between, she took copious notes, writing down everything she saw.

“I became enamored with wine making and the vineyard experience back when I was 18 years old and I thought that maybe someday, I would do this,” Dedrick said. “All during our journey, I began doodling, tearing out pages from magazines, keeping notes on every vineyard we visited. I described the architectural features of every vineyard, and every tasting room. I witnessed and how each flowed and operated, and they way customers came and went.”

In July 2013, the Dedricks purchased the 440-acre mansion and property of the historical Bohemia Manor Farm once owned by Augustine Herrman, and soon after, working with vineyard manager Brian Dickerson, the Dedricks oversaw the transplanting of 14,000 vines in 2014, and then another 10,000 vines in 2015. During that same year, the Dedricks worked with Newark-based Nowland Associates, Inc. on the design and construction of a new processing center.

Row by row, vine by vine, the dream that Brenda had when she was 18 years old was blooming on the banks of the Bohemia River, and by 2016, under the direction of Winemaker Jacques van der Vyver, Chateau Bu-De Winery began producing 10 varieties of reds and whites, while earning one gold medal, four silver medals and three bronze medals at the Finger Lakes Wine Competition in New York.

Brenda never got rid of the notes and the photographs, however. Over the past 15 years, she had accumulated them as a way to formulate ideas for a modern, air-climate controlled tasting room that would offer visitors the opportunity to enjoy the vistas of the Bohemia River, and accommodate a variety of special events. Again, she reached out to Nowland Associates, Inc.

“I shared them all with Nowland, and said, 'This is in my mind. Now it is time to get it on paper,'” Brenda said. “I would doodle, and then the architects would doodle.”

The resulting doodles between winery owner and architects have created a visually stunning masterpiece that opens its doors to a variety of unique experiences, but also recognizes the man who helped forge Maryland history on the property.

Officially opened to the public last Fall, the new tasting room at Chateau Bu-De Winery is a 15,000 square-foot showplace of Old World design and refinement. Overlooking the Bohemia River on the Upper Chesapeake Bay, the tasting room has sweeping views of the vineyard and waterfront, while the 200-seat banquet room that can be divided into three separate event spaces.

In addition, the interior of the building boasts a large tasting room area that also includes a wine library, private tasting room, barrel room, meeting space and administrative offices.

There are special design features at nearly every turn: The tasting room bar was made from recycled glass, and the wooden wall near the bar is made from reclaimed and re-purposed wood taken from the former tasting room, which is now used as an additional tasting room space. Soldier bricks reclaimed from the ruins near the tasting room have been reclaimed and were used in the construction of the fireplace and are also seen in the building's foyer area. The tasting room also features a wine library and private tasting rooms.

And, in a nod toward Herrman's Czech roots, the winery also features a clock tower that is reminiscent of 19th-Century Prague.

“The goal in designing the tasting room was to have it open year round, so our guests would be able to utilize the climate-control features in the winter, and the air conditioning capability in the summer,” Brenda said. “I also wanted the tasting room to accommodate small and large events, whether it's a wedding reception, a baby shower, a corporate event, or a birthday event.”

The tasting room officially opened in early October 2017, and since then, it's drawn rave reviews.

“Our guests have been pretty awestruck,” said Marketing Director Abigail Miller, who regularly welcomes visitors from Cecil County, Delaware, Annapolis, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. to the tasting room. “When they first arrive, they step in and just stand still for a moment, taking it all in. I don't think that many people who have been to tasting rooms at wineries have ever seen anything like this on the Maryland Eastern Shore or the East Coast. It's really a beauty and a gem to be able to find in this area.”

The tasting room not only serves as an architectural and aesthetic compliment to the adjacent processing room, but reflects the initiative to make Chateau Bu-De Winery more than just a local destination, but to create a winery with regional – and national – recognition.

“From a wine making standpoint, having scenery like this and being able to enjoy a simple glass of wine in a tasting room of this quality elevates how one perceives the wine,” van der Vyver said. “It's always a great pearl to have. As much as we're proud to be a part of the Maryland wine industry, our goals at Chateau Bu-De Winery are to become a premier regional destination, with the hopes that all can come and enjoy the beauty of the Eastern Shore, and what we have to offer.”

On most evenings at Chateau Bu-De Winery, there can be found a wide flurry of events, from a casual group of friends enjoying a bottle of wine outdoors on the patio as the sun settles over the Bohemia River, to a wine tasting event with van der Vyver, to a chef tasting or wedding reception in the banquet room, beneath the lights of six glowing chandeliers.

“With the addition of the tasting room, we're trying to create a destination for people, not only for people who are traveling through Cecil County looking for something unique, but for those from other areas in the Northeast,” Miller said.

For Brenda Dedrick, the photographs and doodles that became the new tasting room at Chateau Bu-De Winery are the embodiment of a winery owner's dream, realized and permanent.

“It's the hidden gem, and once people come and see the history and the feeling of being awestruck at the views, the events and the attention to detail, that they'll become a part of this,” she said. “That is our hope, to be able to grow leaps and bounds, year after year.”

Chateau Bu-De Vineyard and Tasting Room is at 237 Bohemia Manor Farm Lane, Chesapeake City. For appointments and special event reservations, call 410-885-2500. To learn more about Chateau Bu-De Vineyard, visit

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Cecil County's free newsletter to catch every headline