55-acre farm adjacent to the Antietam National Battlefield
We are George Warmenhoven and Joan Larrea, co-owners of Antietam Creek Vineyards, and this is our improbable story.
George was born in the Netherlands and lived in then-Dutch New Guinea (now part of Indonesia) and Australia before settling in the U.S. Once here, he pursued a healthcare and IT career. Joan grew up partly in Asia as well, and has traveled extensively around the world as a finance professional. She continues to work in development finance during the week while assisting George on the weekends in the tasting room and vineyard.
George is the driving force behind Antietam Creek Vineyards. He has long had a dream of putting his biology degree and viticultural interests into starting a winery. After retiring, and in the midst of a global financial crisis, he decided to go for it, with Joan’s enthusiastic support.
Our owners, Joan and George
Together, we established what became Antietam Creek Vineyards on an abandoned 55-acre dairy farm adjacent to the Antietam National Battlefield. We spent months digging and refilling soil test pits, measuring microclimates, moving giant rocks, and building a deer fence to keep our curious antlered friends at bay. In 2011, just at the point where the neighboring farmers - busy with their soy and corn - had concluded we were eccentric city folk who would never actually do anything productive, we began planting the first of 4.5 acres. If the preparatory work didn’t cement our local reputation for oddness, the sight of a laser-guided, GPS-enabled planting tractor inserting lifeless twigs into the ground with uncanny precision probably clinched it.
We kept at it, and in 2015, with the vines in reaching full production, we sought out skilled craftsmen from the local area and began to retrofit our hundred-year-old barn. We wanted to maintain the rough beauty of its soaring heights and hand-hewn chestnut beams for visitors to the tasting room, while introducing the most modern and high-quality equipment possible into the cool limestone cellar where we process and age the wines. Step by step, with the help of local carpenters, plumbers, electricians, farmers, and others, the barn is approaching its “Grand Reveal.” We can’t wait to share it with you.