Growing Grapes in Maryland

Maryland produces almost 100,000 cases of grape wine every year from the region’s 34 licensed wineries composed of 450 acres of vineyards. The fastest and easiest grape growing in Maryland occurs in the region’s eastern shores, where the climate is moderated by the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Maryland’s proximity to large bodies of water helps regulate the fluctuations in temperature extremely hot summers and frozen winters. There are also major vineyards on the Piedmont Plateau in central Maryland, where it meets the head of the Chesapeake and where the mountain’s slope and elevation help reduce spring and fall frosts that may shorten the grape’s growing season. Grape varietals planted in western Maryland must be more cold-hardy, while Mediterranean varietals such as Sangiovese, Chardonnay, Vidal, and Blaufrankisch are suited to the southern plains. The region’s soil composition is also very similar to the French vineyards in Burgundy and Bordeaux, where the soil is a rich mixture of limestone, gravel, and shale. The most common Maryland varietals are Vidal Blanc, Chardonnay, Traminette, Pinot Gris, Cabernet Franc, Chambourcin, Sangiovese, and Merlot.

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