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Aerial view of Robin Hill Farm 1970
The family farm was purchased in 1955 by Russell and Shirley Watson. The young newlyweds bought the farm a few months before their wedding, and once the vows were said they happily settled in. Coming from a long line of farmers, Russell decided to grow tobacco on his farm like his father before him. They had 4 children, Russell Jr, Connie, Robert & Susan.
As the farm and the children grew, they decided they needed an additional source of income.
Since Russell had always had a fondness for pigs, the Watson’s became hog farmers as well. 400 head of hog were added to the operation in 1960. Since Russell was the entrepreneurial sort of fellow, and attuned to the changing agricultural markets, the farm underwent several changes over the next few decades.
In 1969 they decided to grow trees and shrubs and Robin Hill Farm became Robin Hill Farm Nursery. The nursery included approximately 100 acres of shade and ornamental trees, and 20 acres of container stock. In 1970, they added a fall festival and pumpkin patch to the farm, and thousands of visitors came each year to take a hayride, see the animals, and pick a pumpkin.
Eventually the nursery business became the main source of income for the family so they decided to consolidate the farm by getting out of the tobacco industry and transitioned from raising hogs commercially to just raising a few for the family. As the years progressed, the children grew up and got married and grandchildren and great grandchildren were added to the family.
The next big change for the farm and family occurred in 2005, when Russell, a beloved husband, father, and grandfather, became suddenly ill and a few days later, passed away unexpectedly. This unexpected loss, coupled with a down turn in the nursery and tree market, prompted the family to slowly withdraw from the nursery business and the fall festival. In 2010, the farm officially retired from any commercial and retail industry. Keeping the livestock, and the fields in soybeans, corn, and hay, they took a few years to figure out what direction they wanted to take the farm next.
In late 2012, after talking closely with agricultural professionals, and following the local farming trends, the family decided to enter the vineyard and winery industry. The same soil that proved so prolific for tobacco was perfect for grapes as well. Several members of the family have taken the helm for this new phase of the farm, and have learned how to become grape growers & winemakers by attending workshops, classes, and conferences.
The farm became members of the Maryland Grape Growers Association and the Maryland Wineries Association, and with the planting of the vineyard in early Spring of 2014, Robin Hill Farm officially became Robin Hill Farm & Vineyards.
The family also realized they missed the public interaction. After decades of hosting visitors to the farm, it had become too quiet since shutting the gates on the fall festival. They then opened the farm to visitors once again in the form of an events venue. Taking advantage of the quaint countryside views and rolling vistas, the farm offers a picturesque setting for weddings. The barn rental, ‘The Stables’, is a beautifully enclosed wooden barn, with exposed beams, where an elegant chandelier and bistro lights suspend from the rafters to give your event a warm glow. It also has an upper level hayloft, a covered porch, an attached outdoor patio, and a stunning red exterior that is perfect for wedding photos.
Finally, after years of planning, renovating, preparing, planting, and harvesting, the farm winery opened on October 7, 2017. Visitors are invited to come down to the farm, taste the wine, and relax while enjoying the views of the countryside.
Farm History Album
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