Over 75 grape growers or potential grape growers attended the Maryland Grape Growers Association (MGGA) meeting at the Howard County Fairgrounds March 5th. Honorary guests included Secretary of Agriculture Lewis Riley as the key note speaker and Senator Don Munson who received an award for his support and participation in the growth of the wine and grape industry. MGGA president and Marydel grape grower Bill Rohrer said, “the wine-grape demand continues to grow and the support from lawmakers and government has never been stronger.”
Secretary Riley spoke of the healthy agricultural infrastructure in Maryland and the role Maryland grape growers will play. He was excited to see that the state is home for 16 wineries and the future potential for commercial grape growers. The Association awarded the following three people for exceptional support and dedication to the industry:
- Senator Don Munson from Hagerstown serves on the Maryland Senate
- Dave Myers from Glen Burnie is a University of Maryland Extension Agent for fruits and vegetables
- Sue Wilson from New Market served as an officer on the MGGA board of directors
Senator Munson addressed the success of a recent advisory committee for Maryland Wine and Grapes. The report, titled “The Next Vintage”, concluded with 52 recommendations steering the industry to success. Many dealt with the legal framework of differentiating farm wineries from the traditional liquor stores, recouping excise liquor taxes generated by local wines and re-directing the funds to the wine-grape industry and increasing the Extension and Research support to grape growers. Rohrer said, “several legislative bills have already been introduced and sponsored by Senator Munson and Delegate Clagett, who also served on the advisory committee.”
Other activities included educational lectures on growing quality wine fruit by Dr. JoeFiola from the University of Maryland, Jim Law from Linden Vineyard Virginia and Dr. Mike Ellis from Ohio State University.