Saturday, July 09, 2011

William Layton of Layton's Chance Winery in Maryland

Although William Layton claims it was a “business decision” for him to come back from the business world to become a winemaker, it seems more like destiny to those of us looking at it from the outside.

After all, his family has been farming as far back as anyone can trace, long enough, in fact, that the Layton family was inducted into the Maryland Agriculture Hall of Fame on February 3, 2011. “It’s special for me because I didn’t want to be a farmer,” says Layton, “I feel privileged to be able to farm. It’s a way of life [for our family].”

Located in Dorchester County, the Layton’s were always farmers, but they’ve never been known as the winemakers in Maryland. In 2007, with William’s return, that all changed. William chose which grapes to plant based on which were the most suitable to the climate of the Eastern Shore. He chose the hardy varieties of Chambourcin, Vidal Blanc, Traminette, and Norton.

“My favorite of our wines in definitely the Lazy Day White,” comments Layton. The Lazy Day white is a semi-sweet summer wine, perfect for those July and August nights on the Eastern Shore.

Layton knows his inexperience in the wine and grape industry could be seen as a drawback, but he embraces it, choosing to learn on the job and enjoy the whole process.

“He’s new to making wine, but his roots are deep in agriculture,” said Kevin Atticks, executive director of the Maryland Wineries Association. “The wine-grape industry is learning a lot from him and his—and his family’s—broad agricultural experience.”
William and his wife Jennifer pictured above.

“I love the fermentation process from grape juice to wine, and blending and creating a great finished product is fun,” says Layton. “But bottling is such a great feeling.”

Along with the wine, William wants his vineyard to really stand out when guests visit the property. “We’re trying to build an experience with wide open land and nature trails. We want people to feel like they’re a part of the winery.”