Maryland increases vineyard acres 200 percent in last decade
ANNAPOLIS – Maryland has experienced a 200 percent increase in the number of acres dedicated to planting grapes since 2001, bringing the state’s grape growing industry closer to meeting the demand for locally grown grapes by Maryland wineries, according to the 2010 Maryland Vineyard Survey, recently released by the Maryland Grape Growers Association (MGGA).
“With the diversity of climate, topography and land in Maryland, we have the potential to be a national leader in premium wine production,” said Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. “Wine grapes are an ideal crop for farms looking to diversify their operation. Wine grapes have a higher earning potential per acre than many other kinds of crops in Maryland.”
In 2008, Maryland wineries purchased 1.25 tons of grapes from out-of-state growers for every ton that was produced in-state. Last year, the figure was .89 tons purchased for each ton grown, which met more than half of the state’s wineries production needs.
“The 2010 Maryland Vineyard Survey reflects the growth that the industry has undergone in the last 10 years in both acreage and production of fruit,” said Jennie Schmidt, president of the MGGA. “Despite a 200 percent increase in grape acres since 2001, there is still a large deficit of Maryland fruit. As the number of Maryland wineries continues to increase, this fruit deficit is likely to continue unless we increase our grape production.”
The MGGA has conducted the survey four times in the last ten years. The 2010 survey shows that there are now 150 vineyards and 46 wineries on 601 acres in Maryland – that represents a 19 percent increase in vines and a 12 percent increase in acres since the survey was last conducted in 2008.
Although there is at least one vineyard in every Maryland county, the majority of grape vines are grown in Frederick County (24 percent), followed by Carroll (12 percent), Baltimore (11 percent) and Queen Anne’s Counties (10 percent). Red Vinifera grapes make up nearly half of all the planted acres. The top six varieties remain unchanged since 2006: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Chambourcin, and Vidal Blanc. The 2011 plantings will be 87 percent Vinifera and 66 percent red varietals. Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Albarino, Syrah, Merlot and Petit Verdot will make up the majority of the new vines going in the ground this year.
Based on the survey responses, the MGGA forecasts that by the end of 2015, there will be 26 new wineries in Maryland – six of which will be started by existing commercial growers; and a 14 percent increase in vineyard acreage in 2011 over 2010. The survey attributes the increase in acreage to new wineries, commercial growers that became wineries, and larger plantings at existing wineries.
“This shows the unequivocal need for more vineyards in Maryland,” said Kevin Atticks, executive director of the Maryland Wineries Association. “The data also show that Maryland wineries grow 60 percent of the grapes harvested in Maryland,” said Atticks, noting that in benchmark states like Virginia, there are many more large-scale commercial vineyards. “We need to grow our commercial vineyard industry over the next decade.”
The MGGA is a non-profit organization of grape growers and winemakers that promote Maryland’s winegrowing industry. Its main objective is to provide its members with the information necessary to grow premium wines. Read the complete survey at: www.marylandgrapes.org/vineyards/2010VineyardSurvey.pdf.