February 20, 2007
For Immediate Release
Jennie Schmidt, Secretary

The Maryland Grape Growers Association Releases the Results of the 2006 Maryland Vineyard Survey

The Maryland Grape Growers Association (MGGA) is pleased to announce the results of the 2006 Vineyard Survey for the State of Maryland. In November, a survey was distributed to the entire MGGA and Maryland Wineries Association (MWA) membership to collect information about Maryland grape growing activity. In total, 182 surveys were returned, a 94% participation rate of active membership. Overall, the results confirmed what was already known there has been a lot of growth in the industry and it appears to be just the tip of the iceberg. Grape production in Maryland is a long way from being able to completely supply the needs of Maryland wineries with Maryland grown grapes.

Currently there are 23 Maryland commercial growers. Commercial growers are defined as vineyards who sold grapes from their 2006 harvest to a bonded Maryland winery. Additionally, there are 26 Maryland wineries, most of whom also have productive vineyards. The survey indicates that by 2010, these numbers should increase by 34 additional commercial growers and 19 additional bonded wineries. While this data reflects a 148% increase in commercial growers, many of these new growers will be among the 19 bonded wineries by 2010, thus the impact on in-state grape availability for existing wineries could be a wash.

Maryland Grape Growers Association membership is open to anyone interested in grape-growing, thus the survey data includes results from backyard growers, hobbyists, and commercial producers. In addition, the full report includes data reported by bonded wineries. Of the MGGA membership, survey responses indicate that there are at least 96 individuals that grow grapes in Maryland. The smallest vineyard reported four vines and the largest reported 18,000 vines. Sixty-two percent (59) of the vineyards have fewer than 500 vines and 18% (26) have more than 1000 vines. Total non-winery vines are 119,600 (190 acres) of which, 87,300 vines (23 vineyards-121 acres), were deemed commercial, although some may not have reached full maturity to yield a 2006 harvest. In 2007, we anticipate 43,100 additional vine plantings, a 36% increase. Seventy-four different varieties of grapes are grown in the state. In addition, bonded wineries account for an additional 241 acres of grapes, which equates to a total of 176,000 vines.

The 23 vineyards that sold grapes to Maryland wineries in 2006 are located in twelve counties, with Carroll County accounting for more than 38% of the vines. An estimated total of 224 tons were reported sold in 2006 to Maryland wineries and 17 tons were sold elsewhere (fruit stands, pick-your-own, etc.), resulting in an average yield of approximately two tons per acre, based on total vines (not harvested vines). Maryland will have 160 commercial, non-winery acres (117,000 Vines) by the end of 2007.

The 224 commercial tons sold to Maryland wineries in 2006 included 22 varietals, though, seven types made up 86% of the total. Nearly half of the commercial growers grew Vidal Blanc and it represented 21% of the commercial tons sold, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon (17%), Cabernet Franc (11%), Merlot (10%), Chardonnay (10%), Seyval Blanc (8%) and Chambourcin (7%). Vinifera grapes accounted for 58% of the tons sold (Hybrids 42%), with the mix between red and white grapes 54% vs. 46%.

Overall, the data are reflective of the demand for high quality, Maryland grown grapes for a thriving wine industry. Anticipated demand for grapes continues to outpace production, making viticulture a viable agriculture diversification in Maryland. The full report can be downloaded in Excel or PDF format.