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. The soil was right, and they had the knowledge, so tobacco farmers they became. Since tobacco was such a high labor intensive crop, they decided to have some children to help out! Soon enough, along came 2 boys and 2 girls to help with the family farm!
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 add nursery stock to the enterprise, and Robin Hill Farm became Robin Hill Farm Nursery. In 1970, the family 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 and fall festival became so successful that Russell and Shirley decided to consolidate the farm.
They got out of the tobacco industry in 1975 and finished raising hogs commercially in 1984.
As the years progressed, the children grew up and got married and grandchildren and great grandchildren were added to the brood! Happily they all lived, worked, and played amongst each other and their other family and friends in their small town for many decades.
The next big change for the farm occured in 2005, when Russell 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, the family took a few years to figure out the direction they wanted to go in 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 is perfect for grapes as well. Several members of the family have taken the helm for this new phase of the farm, and they are now learning how to become grape growers by attending workshops, classes, and conferences.
Robin Hill Farm has become a member of the Maryland Grape Growers Association and the Maryland Wine Association. With the planting of the vineyard in early Spring of 2014, Robin Hill Farm added The Vineyards of Robin Hill. We have plans to add a Winery in the next few years as well.
Last, but not least, the family also decided that they missed the public interaction as well. After decades of hosting visitors to the farm, it had become too quiet since shutting the gates on the fall festival. Therefore, they have decided to open the farm to visitors once again in the form of an events venue. Taking advantage of the quaint countryside views and rolling vistas, we offer the perfect picturesque setting for weddings, parties, photo shoots, and more.
Our barn rental, “The Stables”, is a beautiful enclosed wooden barn with exposed beams, an upper level hayloft, a covered porch, an attached outdoor patio, and a stunning red exterior. The main floor of the barn is 40×60′ with the hayloft and the additional covered stable area both measuring at 15×60′. The attached open air patio, at 32×60′, is the perfect size for an outdoor cocktail hour or to fit an additional tent if needed.
So plan on visiting us soon! Take a stroll through the vineyard or have our family host an event for your family. Watch the grapes grow and eventually plan on enjoying a delicious glass of local wine on the front porch of our tasting barn.