June 4, 2007
For Immediate Release
Bruce Perrygo

Expansion of Maryland Grape and Wine Program

The Maryland grape and wine industry announces the Vineyard Capital Assistance Program. This program is designed to increase Marylandís wine grape acreage. It is funded by a grant from the Governorís Advisory Commission on Maryland Wine and Grape Growing. Those growers accepted into the program will receive between $2.00 and $2.50 reimbursement per grape vine to be planted in the spring of 2008.

Marylandís grape and wine industry is over fifty years old, but it has just been in recent years that there has been rapid growth in the number of wineries in the Free State. The Maryland Grape Growers Association 2006 Vineyard Survey (available here) reports there are currently over twenty six wineries in the state and that by 2010 there will be forty-four. The survey states that one hundred twenty-one vineyards with nearly three hundred thousand vines supply grapes to those wineries.

As large as those numbers may sound they fall far short of meeting the grape needs of Maryland wineries. At present, for each ton of grapes bought by a Maryland winery from a Maryland vineyard, that winery has to purchase one and a third tons from out of state vineyards.

Maryland wines are a premium product that can command premium prices. They have won medals around the world. Maryland wineries want to produce Maryland wine, but a wine cannot be labeled as Maryland wine unless at least 75% of the juice in the wine comes from Maryland grapes. This is the primary reason that the Commission is making monies available for the purchase of grape vines for commercial production.

There is much support throughout the state of Maryland for the growth of the grape and wine industry. A quick glance to the south finds that Virginia has over 125 wineries and Virginia wines produce over 45 million dollars annually in retail sales. Over five hundred thousand tourists visit Virginia wine country each year. That equates to increased income for restaurants, stores, bed breakfasts, and other businesses that are affected by tourists.

It is easy for Marylanders to see the same thing happening here. Wineries and vineyards now exist in all parts of the state from far Western Maryland through the Central area and on to the Eastern Shore. Southern Maryland has seen the conversion of at least one tobacco barn into a winery and several former tobacco fields now support vineyards.

The Vineyard Capital Assistance Program will promote new and expanded vineyards throughout the state. It is just one part of the rapidly growing and maturing grape and wine in industry in Maryland

Applications and information on the Vineyard Capital Assistance Program can be seen here or can be had from Bruce Perrygo, Coordinator, Maryland Grape Growers Association at bperrygo@md.metrocast.net or P.O. Box 47 Compton, Md. 20627.