Marketing Efforts Boost Wine Sales
100,000 more bottles sold in fiscal 2010 than 2009
By M.P. Taylor | Special to The Gazette
March 4, 2011
This story was corrected on March 9, 2011. An explanation follows the story.
A combination of economic recovery and savvy marketing boosted Maryland wine sales by 11 percent in fiscal 2010, with 100,000 more bottles sold than in fiscal 2009, the state comptroller's office reported.
And winemakers say they are expecting 2011 to be even better as the first wine from last year's spectacular grape growing season becomes available.
The long string of hot, dry days that caused row crops to wither and die in the fields produced a harvest of unusually high-quality grapes, vintners say.
Carol Wilson, owner of Elk Run Vineyard in Mount Airy, predicts these grapes will produce "the best year ever" for her 30-year-old winery.
"We're really excited about 2011," said Melissa Schulte, director of operations at Black Ankle Vineyards of Mount Airy, who describes 2010 as a "fantastic year for sales."
Black Ankle, one of the newest Maryland wineries, has been selling its wine since 2006. But the wine has proved so popular its inventory can sustain only on-site tastings and sales, plus sales to wholesalers.
Black Ankle probably will have to skip this year's festivals to maintain its inventory. Meanwhile, it plans to add 19 acres to its existing 22 acres of grapevines. But grapes from the new vines will not be available for wine for three or four years.
Linganore Winecellars winemaker Anthony Aellen credits the recovery from the Great Recession for some of last year's sales increase.
"People were hesitant for the past two years but everyone is slowly coming around to a more positive feeling," he said.
Linganore, Maryland's largest winery, sold 600,000 bottles — that's 125,000 gallons — last year and expects its upward trajectory to continue.
"I think it's going to be an ongoing tradition," Aellen said.
Marylanders also are discovering that a weekend trip to a winery, or several, makes for a fun and restful mini-vacation, winemakers say.
"Coming out to a winery and buying a glass of wine is an inexpensive way to spend an afternoon," said Elk Run's Wilson. For a $5 cover charge, Elk Run