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Why Grow Grapes

The current demand for winegrapes by the wineries exceeds the quantity of grapes produced in the state. Currently, only 50% of the desired tonnage is being met. For a wine to be sold as “Maryland Wine,” the percentage of grapes from the state must equal 75%. Maryland wineries (roughly 30 in number) currently produce more than 240 different wines, and of the 450 acres of grapes grown in Maryland, 120 acres are grown by the wineries.

This high demand for product, coupled with a growing demographic of urban wine-sophisticates wanting "local" wines, translates to profitable vineyard businesses.

Grape Growing Strategies

Here's what some of our shoreVines pioneers have to say:

Al Cassinelli, Cassinelli Winery & Vineyards, carefully plans optimal spacing for vine planting with Hans Schmidt, Schmidt Vineyard Management Company

"To be profitable you need to work with a long-term plan...I planned our business to be profitable based on a sustainable balance of grapevines, fruit trees and livestock and a wine-making facility. After 4 years I can see it's moving in that direction now."
Al Cassinelli, Cassinelli Winery & Vineyards

Wick Dudley, Dudley Farms, was the first to start a substantial vineyard operation in the Upper Shore area; here he tests brix levels preparing for a late harvest

"I heard a lot about the profit potential in growing grapes over the long haul so in the early 80's I started diversifying beyond my corn and soy crops to include a a hoop house nursery for winter production while I started my vines; now I have a yield to show the whole year."
Wick Dudley, Dudley Farms

Harry Hepbron, Dove Valley Vineyards & Winery, has been producing international award winning wines; here he explains his European cut

"The vineyard and the winery are for my family; it gives me great satisfaction to know that there is a business in operation here that provides an income and careers for my kin in the years to come; it's a labor of love though and you have to want to be in your vineyard and try different techniques."
Harry Hepbron, Dove Valley Vineyards & Winery

Are you a grape grower on the Upper Eastern Shore and have some experience on grape growing to share? This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Why Grow Upper Shore Grapes - Basics:

  • They have a small acreage requirement:
    Up to 5 acres: Part-time venture; 5-10 acres: Part-time plus seasonal hired help; 10-15 acre: Potential for full time
  • Can generate a high profit:
    Up to $3000-$7000 per acre gross returns
    Labor demands are spread throughout the year
  • Regions with proximity to large bodies of water provide ideal climates, the upper Chesapeake Bay, less prone to ocean climatic swings provides a climate lock where temperature averages and extremes are very similar.
  • Grapes have a low water requirement
  • They are a smart environmental choice: low fertilizer requirements and less soil runoff
  • Proximity to the University of Maryland Viticulture science center