Maryland wineries list hits 50

ROHRERSVILLE, MD -- The state's newest wine grape operation has opened near this Washington County town.

Co-owners Dave Collins and Randy and Jennifer Thompson on Tuesday announced that 13 varieties of grapes have been planted on 22 acres at Big Cork Vineyards.

Plans include construction of a winery within two years and a tasting room within three. Production targets include 5,000 cases of wine annually and a full- and part-time staff of more than 20.

Maryland now has 50 licensed wineries. The industry should be strengthened when Governor Martin O'Malley signs, as expected, a pending bill that would allow direct shipment of wine to and from Maryland.

“The addition of Big Cork Vineyards and Dave Collins to Maryland’s industry brings new recognition of Maryland’s wine and grape potential. Collins’ expertise will help chart a new course for Maryland,” said Kevin Atticks, executive director of the Maryland Wineries Association (MWA), an industry trade organization.

Collins was vineyard manager and winemaker at Breaux Vineyards in Virginia.

Joseph Fiola, viniculture and small fruit specialist at the University of Maryland, said, "The Pleasant Valley [of Washington County] is one of the top regions in the state to plant a vineyard. It has highly desirable soils and good elevation to promote warm days and cool nights. But the constant wind conditions and limited precipitation make it even more amenable to quality grape production."

Big Cork will cultivate seven red grape varieties -- Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Nebbiolo, Barbera and Syrah -- and six whites -- Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat Orange, Muscat Canelli, Chardonnay and Vidal.

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