WHALEYVILLE — In an effort to boost mutual tourism opportunities the Maryland Wineries Association has initiated a program to entice regular travelers to consider adding local winery visits to their itineraries. The Maryland Wine Passport is a book that looks just like a passport, with blank pages that can be stamped at each winery visited.
The idea for the passport came out of the regular meetings the wineries association has to try and boost not only the state’s wine profile but also to increase traffic both to and between wineries.
Kathryn Danko-Lord, one of the owners of Coasta Ventosa Vineyard and Winery, said the promotion is one of the many ways the wineries work together for their mutual benefit.
“We try to focus on ways to incorporate the idea of buying local into a lot of the events we [as an association] do,” she said.
The nearly 50 wineries statewide are broken down into wine trails, a small collection of regional wineries that can be visited as part of a trip to a particular area. Coasta Ventosa, for instance, is a stop along the Chesapeake Wine Trail which includes 10 wineries on the Eastern Shore.
It’s like being able to earn frequent flier miles for visiting wineries. The perks range from access to event discounts after eight visits to invitations to private winemaker receptions at the different wineries to inclusion in their annual drawing for a basket full of wine.
Although the perks are enticing, what’s particularly interesting about the passport is it provides a kind of blueprint for day-tripping. Using the passport as an excuse to visit places around the state you might not and try wines you weren’t otherwise inclined to can open up a different view os the state.
On the wineries’ side, the hope is to foster an increase in wine tourism but adding an additional dimension to the already brisk tourism trade.
This might be truer of the Chesapeake Wine Trail than any of the others because such a large number of tourists are from the other side of the Chesapeake Bay. If even only a portion of the millions of people visiting from Baltimore, Western and Southern Maryland can be convinced to become passport holders while vacationing here, it can significantly improve the visibility of the wineries in the other parts of the state.
Conversely, passport holders from those other areas know they’d be missing a particular opportunity to fill out their passports and round out their vacations if they failed to stop at at least a few of the wineries on the Chesapeake Wine Trail.
For her part Danko-Lord is optimistic about her winery’s participation in the program because it’s part of a larger movement to unify Maryland’s wine producers in a way that will eventually benefit them all.
After all, making wine is about cultivation and having fun. This is an attitude that’s not restricted to the vineyard, the press room, or the tasting room but tends to pervade every winery’s mode of operating.
Maryland Wine Passports are free and can be picked up at Coasta Ventosa Vineyard and Winery in Whaleyville. Call 410-352-9867 or visit www.coastaventosa.com for more information.