It started in a meeting in Hagerstown last September. State Senator Donald Munson was querying University of Maryland viticulturalist Dr. Joe Fiola about the prospects for a vibrant wine industry in Washington County, Maryland. Fiola replied that the land is perfect for vineyards, and the tourism base is already there – but no one’s doing it.
Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Lewis R. Riley quickly appointed the Maryland Wine and Grape Advisory Committee to identify strategies to facilitate the growth of Maryland’s commercial vineyards and wineries and to offer recommendations to strengthen and expand Maryland’s grape and wine economics and their markets. This report outlines a series of recommendations that – when implemented – will encourage and assist the continued expansion of Maryland’s wine industry as expressed by the growth in the number of vineyards, the acreage planted to wine grapes, the number of Maryland wineries, the gallons of wine produced in the State, the quality of that wine, and the economic benefit to the State.
The experience of other states has shown that where states invest modestly in their wine industries, the return in the growth of that industry as measured in volume of wine grapes produced, gallons of wine produced, economic return to the states, and tax income has been substantial.
Senator Donald Munson and Delegate Virginia Clagett have introduced legislation that will address some of the main concerns raised in the task force report.
The full report (in pdf format) can be downloaded here.