Thursday, May 23, 2013

Maryland farmers markets can sell wine starting in June

Maryland farmers markets can sell wine starting in June
May 21, 2013   | 
Written by Jennifer Shutt Staff Writer
WIC-News  Dorchester County

SALISBURY — As shoppers walk through Maryland farmers markets in the next few months, they may find wine bottles among the fresh-baked bread, local fruits, vegetables and homemade preserves.

While some counties already permitted wine sales at farmers markets, a new law to take effect June 1 will establish a statewide permit for wineries that removes county-specific restrictions. The new permit will not allow for sales by the glass, but will allow wineries to give out samples, as long as it doesn’t violate county regulations.

Matt Cimino, winemaker at Great Shoals Winery in Princess Anne, said he’d be interested in selling at the Main Street Farmers Market in Berlin and the Somerset Avenue Farmers Market in Princess Anne.

Before, Cimino said, the winery wouldn’t have used one of its special event permits for a farmers market because it only is allotted so many.

“Before we only had 12 special event permits we could use in counties that did not offer specific farmers market permits,” he said.

Because those permits were usually good for three consecutive days and farmers markets usually last for about four hours, Cimino said, it needed to be a very large farmers market to make it worth the company’s time. .

Cimino said the new permit opens up farmers markets as a possibility for wineries, but they’ll still have to weigh the benefit of staffing a market for sales.

Layton’s Chance Winery in Vienna has been attending the Dorchester County Farmers Market for about a year after the county passed a rule allowing wineries into farmers markets.

“It’s a win-win,” said Jennifer Layton, winery co-owner. “It’s a really nice crowd that comes to farmers markets and they are the ones interested in local, so it’s obviously very good for us.”

Layton doesn’t think Layton’s Chance will expand to other farmers markets right away, saying there isn’t enough staffing to send people to multiple markets.

In order for wineries to set up at farmers markets, they must be invited by the market and notify the Maryland comptroller’s office by the 20th of each month what markets they plan to attend.

Jay Martin, market manager for the Camden Avenue Farmers Market in Salisbury, said he might be interested in having a winery at the market, but would have to get approval from the board of directors and make sure it’s OK with the Asbury United Methodist Church, which lets the market set up in its parking lot.

Donna Ennis, president of the Shore Fresh Growers Association, said the downtown Salisbury market is going to invite a winery to the market, but wants to check local liquor laws before allowing sampling.

“The wine is just value added to the grapes; that’s the way I look at it,” she said. “It’s not different than the guy that’s growing a peach orchard that’s producing jams and jellies —it’s a byproduct of his crop.”

Gena Leby, co-owner of Bay Country Bakery, said wine would complement the city market.

“The more variety you have, the more people will come, especially if you’re doing your local shopping and you can pick up most of what you need,” she said.

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