Everything is made from scratch at The Bakery on Mason in Cape Charles, whether by the hands of Louise Orlando or those of her husband, Andrew.
Louise is self-taught when it comes to baking sourdough and one day she thought to herself if beer bread tastes so good, why not incorporate wine into breadmaking? And not just any wine.
Chatham Vineyards’ Cabernet Franc.
Louise pairs the complex red wine made with estate-grown grapes from the Chatham Vineyard with pecans, cranberries and just the right amounts of flour, water and salt.
Chatham Loaf is sold exclusively at Chatham Vineyards at Church Creek. Buy an entire loaf to take home or enjoy the artisan bread as part of a cheese plate with a glass of wine in the tasting room.
“Cab Franc is such an interesting varietal because it has a tremendous amount of aromatics and it’s one of the most site-expressive grapes we grow here at Chatham,” said Jon Wehner, vintner along with his wife, Mills, of Chatham Vineyards. “Louise has been able to master the flavor profile in her loaf, and that really contributes to the unique tasting experience here because it’s so hyper local.”
Even without sugar, Chatham Loaf derives its sweet taste from the cranberries. It’s yummy by itself, topped with cheese or to hold together the chicken salad in a sandwich.
“When I’m making it, it’s a heady experience; the aroma of the wine is so strong,” Louise says.
The senses awaken again when the pink flesh-colored loaves come out of the oven, a pleasing visual and a pleasure for the nose.
Chatham Loaf has been a staple at Chatham Vineyards for 10 years. Louise and Andrew moved to Virginia’s Eastern Shore in 2002 from San Francisco, favoring the simpler lifestyle but missing the good bread in California. Louise decided to bake her own, initially as a project from her farmhouse kitchen for family. That morphed into selling loaves at local coffee shops.
Back then, Louise would drop off homemade breads at coffee shops near her seaside farm along with a moneybox — she collected via the honor system. She graduated to larger farmers markets across the Chesapeake Bay and ultimately opened The Bakery at Mason.
“It was Louise’s idea to create a sourdough loaf with our wine, cranberries, and pecans,” Mills said. “I was all in! At that point, it was clear we should be expanding our food offerings and we always go to local options first. She left with some wine to begin experimenting. It didn’t take long for her to develop our signature loaf – a delicious demi loaf that pairs beautifully with all of our reds and the popular aged Gouda cheese we source from North Street Market in Onancock.”
Folks stop by The Bakery on Mason, open from May through October, asking for Chatham Loaf. Louise points them in the direction of Chatham Vineyards. That’s the only place on the Eastern Shore where you’ll find it. The 10-year partnership between the business owners is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2023.
“It’s nice because I drive business to her and she drives business back to me,” Louise says. “It’s been a really nice local collaboration.”