Maryland is an east-coast state of the US, located between Virginia to the south and Pennsylvania to the north. It covers 12,400 square miles (32,000 sq km) of land ranging from the foothills of the Appalachians to the coastal plains in the east of the state. Chesapeake Bay, a large Atlantic inlet, dominates the coastline in Maryland, splitting the state almost in two.
The range of grapes grown in Maryland is remarkably varied – the result not only of the diverse climate, but also of 350 years of experimentation by the state's winemakers. The well-known vinifera varieties do well here, with Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc being the prime examples.
Barbera has also made a comfortable transition from Piedmont in north-western Italy to the Piedmont of Maryland; it thrives in the hotter areas here alongside its warm-climate partners Sangiovese and Viognier. The hybrids Seyval Blanc and Chambourcin are also grown.
Maryland now has more than 1,000 acres (250 hectares) of vines and over 75 small-scale wineries. A high proportion of these have opened since 2010.
Quality wine production here is centered on two key areas. The more prolific region is in the center-northwest of the state, on the Piedmont Plateau north and west of Baltimore. The second area is in eastern Maryland, in the cool, hillside climes around Chesapeake Bay and on the Delmarva peninsula.
Maryland is the tenth smallest state in America but despite this, it has three AVAs to its name. Again, these lie in the center-northwest. Of the trio, only Linganore (established in 1983) is cited with any frequency, as most wineries within the other two AVAs – Catoctin (1987) and Cumberland Valley (1985) – use the state-level Maryland appellation.
Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean give Maryland a distinct maritime influence. Where the more continental climate of the state's western neighbors (such as West Virginia) brings hotter summers and cooler winters, Maryland's viticultural potential is dramatically improved by the tempered climate, with warmer winters and an extended growing season in the fall.
The western edge of the state stretches out disproportionately to the west for 70 miles (113km), creating the Maryland pan-handle. Here, the climate is classified as 'subtropical highland' on the Koppen scale, signifying cold, snow-laden winters and hot, humid summers – conditions which few vine varieties could endure.
The first attempts at viticulture in Maryland date back to the mid-17th Century, when European immigrants began the search for suitable wine-bearing vines. Although not entirely fruitless, the quest delivered wines with unfamiliar flavors – unappealing to those with European tastes. In 1662, the colony's governor planted 200 acres (81ha) of European vines, some of which became the earliest vinifera victims of phylloxera.
Maryland beer and spirits
Before 1918 there were over 100 brands of Maryland Rye Whiskey - the state's flagship spirit. The state did not pass legislation enforcing Prohibition, and so the industry was well placed to rebound following the 18th amendment. However World War Two produced econmic change and marked a downturn in demand and distilleries began to close down.
In the last decade or so distilleries have been opening at a record rate, and a wide range of spirits are now produced. The Maryland Distiller's Guild now has around 25 members.
The brewing industry's best known icon is Natty Boh, the handlebar-mustached embodiment of National Bohemian beer. This was originally brewed in Baltimore but is now owned by Pabst and brewed in Ohio and Georgia. In 2018 the Guiness Open Gate Brewery and barrel House opened in Baltimore. This is the first Guiness facilty to open in the USA since 1954.
Maryland has experience the same boom in craft brewing experienced in most other US states since the late 2000s. There are now over 100 breweries and brewpubs.