Q: Are the humid conditions of the Eastern Shore detrimental to growing a quality wine grape?
A: No the climate of the Upper Eastern Shore is actually very positive to quality grape growing. The proximity to the Chesapeake Bay and its cooling breezes creates good air flow for vineyards.
Q: How much work is involved to produce a quality grape in Eastern Shore humid conditions?
A: Growing grapes requires a lot of initial capital investment and a long term commitment of routine maintenence that requires a great deal of labor. During the growing season, vines need to be sprayed regularly to prevent fungi and molds, which can substantially affect the fruit. Some varieties are more resistent to disease and so the variety that you grow must be carefully chosen to balance the labor and yield to the demand for a particular variety.
Q: How much potential profit is there per acre?
A: Up to $3000-$7000 per acre gross returns
Q: How much labor is involved?
A: For properties up to 5 acres: Part-time labor, for 5-10 acre properties part-time plus seasonal hired help is needed, 10-15 acre properties need full time labor.
Q: What if I don't have enough labor?
A: You can start with a small vineyard under 5 acres to get a feel for the process and get by with minimal use of part-time labor, however many of the upfront costs of setting up a vineyard are the same whether planting five or 15 acres; with more acres consider the use of a vineyard management company to offset equipment and labor costs.
Q: Who do I sell the grapes to?
A: Maryland wineries need to create a wine with 75% Maryland grown grapes. The need is there!
Q: What is the first step in starting a Vineyard business?
A: First, analyze your land's air flow and soil nutrients to make sure you have the basics for good vine production. Consider consulting with a Vineyard Management Company. Also, assess your potential investment to produce a successful vineyard operation. Prospective Vineyard Owner’s Worksheet