Wine Country and Eastern Shore of Maryland are yet to be synonymous phrases.
That could change as new vineyards are established across the Shore from Berlin to Rising Sun—and both new and older vineyards collect prestigious awards along the way.
Of the more than 60 wineries in Maryland—with $30 million annually in sales according to recent studies— 14 of them are part of the developing Chesapeake Wine Trail on the Eastern Shore.
Six wine trails now lace Maryland’s countryside and the Chesapeake Wine Trail on the Eastern Shore is poised to play a significant part in the new Vintage Atlantic Wine Region, along with Delaware, Pennsylvania, and southern New Jersey.
At the September 18 launch party for the new wine region, held at Harvest Ridge Winery in Marydel, Delaware, winery owner Chuck Nunan expressed his enthusiasm saying, “This is a really an exciting time for wine growing on the Eastern Shore. 55 wineries and vineyards are coming together to create tourist destinations points. We’re at the place Napa Valley was in the 60’s, and each of these wineries directly benefits their local communities. One out of 18 jobs in this country is related to tourism.”
Lotte Bowie and her husband Walter took an early interest in Chesapeake region wineries. Connecting with the wine industry through their Loblolly Productions, a design and marketing firm in Still Pond, Maryland, they have become instrumental with branding and marketing Eastern Shore wineries and vineyards. Their online information portal, www.shorevines.com, showcases the growth and potential of vineyards and wineries on the Eastern Shore and offers detailed articles and in-depth video interviews about how to start and manage a winery.
“There are five wineries within 20 minutes of Chestertown: Crow Vineyard and Winery in Kennedyville, Salisa Winery and Clovelly Vineyards in Chestertown, Cassinelli Winery and Vineyards in Church Hill and Tilmon’s Island Winery in Sudlersville. We want locals to know about this group also because it is becoming an important part of our local economic health,” Bowie says.
Doris Mason, Executive Director of Upper Shore Regional Council, sees the Wine Trail and Chesapeake Wine County concept as a vibrant economic force. The USRC, charged with fostering economic and social development of Cecil, Kent and Queen Anne’s counties, supports the shoreVines initiative
“Not only is there an economic impact through employment, but also there are other arteries that go with supporting vineyards and wineries—restaurants, bed and breakfasts, hotels, even conversations about upcoming distilleries and breweries—that all play into networking and developing a larger tourist industry,” Mason says.
And the wine? People are taking notice.
Wine enthusiasts and judges are giving a hearty thumbs-up and handing out top-flight awards to Shore wineries.
Bordeleau Vineyards, near Salisbury, just won the Shore’s 1st Governor’s Cup Best in Show for their 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Amarone and many other Eastern Shore wineries have won accolades as well, including Crow Vineyard and Winery Best in Class for their 2012 Barbera Rosé and gold for their 2012 Vidal Blanc, and Clovelly Vineyard’s silver for their 2013 Rosé and Vidal Blanc.
So much for the “Eastern Shore can’t make quality wine theory.”
“Our wines are phenomenal and the impact on the community is immense. It’s only just begun,” Chuck Nunan said at the Harvest Ridge ceremony for the Vintage Atlantic Wine Region.
In the following video, Lotte Bowie and Doris Mason talk about wineries and vineyards, the growth of the industry on the Eastern Shore, and the bright outlook for the Eastern Shore of Maryland as… Wine Country.
Map and Crow Vineyard photo by Lotte Bowie, loblolly.biz