Sunday, January 21, 2007

Booming Wine Industry Puts Maryland Grapes in the Pink

from The Examiner (MD)
by Scott Shewfelt
Jan 20, 2007 3:00 AM

BALTIMORE - The Maryland wine industry is budding, and Americans are consuming more wine than ever, according to the Congressional Wine Caucus’ first nationwide economic study of wine and grape products.

“We’ll have 32 wineries by the end of this year,” said Kevin Atticks, director of the Maryland Wineries Association.

“Four years ago, there were only 12.”

American wine and grape industry contributes $162 billion and 1.1 million jobs to the economy, according to the recent study titled “The Impact of Wine, Grapes and Grape Products on the American Economy 2007.”

Maryland wineries have seen a 19 percent increase in sales in 2006, which is above the national average, Atticks said.

“It’s exciting to see more vines growing,” said Carol Wilson, past president of the MWA and owner of Elk Run Vineyards in Mount Airy.

U.S. wine consumption per capita ranks 38th worldwide, but the United States has shown increasing demand with wineries in all 50 states.

Maryland’s industry is growing, but neighboring Pennsylvania and Virginia each has roughly four times as many wineries. California dominates 90 percent of America’s wine production.

The study will be distributed to Congress to emphasize the importance of immigration reforms, global climate issues and other issues potentially harmful to America’s wine industry.

For Maryland, success hinges on promotional and land issues.

Grape farming is a highly capital- and labor-intensive activity, and getting farmers to change from their traditional crops often means breaking from family tradition, said Anthony Aellen, wine maker and president of Linganore Winecellars in Mount Airy.