The state of Maryland has documented winemaking beginning as far back as 1648, but sadly it wasn’t until almost 300 years later in 1945 when the state had its first winery open.
The state of Maryland has 3 recognized AVAs & 4 distinct growing regions:
- Linganore AVA – located in north-central Maryland with a warm and wet climate over loam and gravel soils mainly producing Cabernet Sauvignon, Chambourcin, and Chardonel.
- Cumberland Valley AVA – stretching between south-central Pennsylvania and into west-central Maryland the main growing areas are on terraces above the Potomac River in alkaline rich limestone soils under a humid continental climate.
- Catoctin AVA – located in western Maryland and named for the speckled rock in the region with only two commercial wineries operating in the region. Due to a lack of recognition, the wines of this AVA are generally labeled under “Maryland” instead of “Catoctin.”
- Piedmont Plateau – the majority of the state’s vineyards are planted in the central area of the state through this region including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay.
- Eastern Shore – known for warm days and cool nights over sandy soils moderated by the Chesapeake Bay, the region has a wide variety of grape plantings.
- Southern Plain – hot summer days and nights in the region are rough on many grapes, but some Southern Italian varietals like Barbera, Sangiovese, and Montepulciano have found themselves right at home in this climate.
- Western Mountain – cold-resistant grapes able to withstand long winters and short growing seasons do best in this region. Success has been found with growing Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon to name a few.
In the 1980s the Maryland Grape Growers Association and the Maryland Wineries Association came into being and helped boost the state’s wineries into the public eye through the first Maryland Wine Festival. By the 2000s the festival was running strong, moving quite a bit of local Maryland wine sales, and the cooperative marketing campaign “Ask For Maryland Wine” continued to grow awareness and see successes for the state’s wine industry growth.
So, as we celebrate Maryland Wine Month this month, why not try to “Ask For Maryland Wine” – sure your local store may not have any, but maybe you will be surprised to find out that they do, or furthermore, can get some ordered in for you!