Maryland Wine Industry Growing As Consumers Focus On The Local

Posted: Mar 11, 2019



As the owner of Crow Vineyard & Winery, Judy Crow fields a lot of questions about her wine's provenance and production. But it wasn't always that way.

"When we first got into business, nobody asked that question," Crow said.

In the seven years since she and her husband, Roy, opened their Eastern Shore tasting room, they've seen interest in their farm and wine production process take off. Now, customers believe "it's really important to see the connection between the growing of the grapes and making of the wine," Crow said. "The general public has a thirst to be engaged with the agricultural community."

As consumers have become increasingly invested in locally grown food and locally made products, curiosity about Maryland vineyards has been on the rise, as well, Crow said. And as the state marks Maryland Wine Month this March, there are more wineries than ever to explore. The Maryland Wineries Association, a nonprofit trade group that advocates for the state's commercial wineries, is trying to get the word out with special events and a social media challenge.

Maryland Wine Month will tout wineries' local roots with a #WeAreMarylandWine social media contest offering a pair of passes to Decanter Reimagined, an event pairing horse racing and wine at Laurel Park, to one winner who posts using the hashtag. The association will also highlight local wine shops through a "Retailer of the Day" campaign.

Today's consumer isn't just looking for locally produced wine — they're searching for quality, too, said Jim Bauckman, a spokesman for the wineries association.

"People are becoming more and more engaged," he said. "It used to be creative marketing to be able to say, 'Hey, I have a product that's made here or grown here.' Now, people are seeing it doesn't just have to be local; it can be really well-made and innovative."

The number of wineries in the state has steadily increased since 2005, Bauckman said. The wineries association has about 80 members (the organization is still in the process of finalizing its 2019 members list), and the industry supports nearly 13,000 jobs. In 2017, wineries and vineyards in Maryland contributed about $68 million in direct economic output, Bauckman said.

Crow, who also serves as president of the Wineries Association, said Maryland wines are starting to gain some traction among wine enthusiasts, who have long focused on Northern California's vintages. The respected wine review website JamesSuckling.com gave 19 Maryland-made wines an "outstanding" score as part of a feature last year on American wine.

"We're getting some national recognition," Crow said. "The industry is growing, it's providing more opportunities for employment and we're producing some very fine wines here."

As the industry grows, wineries are clamoring for more locally grown grapes, Bauckman said. Currently, there are about 1,000 acres of grapes planted in the state.

"Wineries are looking for more and more Maryland grape juice," he said. "Even wineries that do have their own vineyard are looking for other grape varieties that they don't grow."

By Amanda Yeager – Reporter, Baltimore Business
Journal March 10, 2019
Source: Bizjournals.com



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