Basignani Winery has been growing grapes and making wine for the last 30 years. They churn out around 5,000 cases of red and white wines each year.
But it can be a struggle getting customers through the door.
"Promotion and marketing, I really think is the biggest challenge we have,” said Bert Basignani, Co-owner of Basignani Winery. “We need a bigger share of the wine market in the state and think that is our primary challenge."
Twelve years ago the state established the Wine and Grape Promotion Fund to help boost the wine industry. The idea was to pump government money into marketing, education and research efforts.
Here in Maryland, wineries pay a tax for every gallon of wine produced. Thanks to a 2015 law, those tax dollars all go into the Wine and Grape Promotion Fund. So the more wine made, the more money will be distributed to help grow the industry.
"The more Maryland promotes their product, we sell more wine, more money goes into the fund, and hopefully we can use that money to help better promote the industry," said Maryland Wineries Association Executive Director, Kevin Atticks.
$85,000 in grants were just awarded from the fund, and officials expect about $150,000 will be available the next time around. The money will be used to encourage more grapes in the ground at existing wineries, help spread the word about Maryland wines, bring international consultants to the state for education, and bankroll an economic impact study.
“So that we can see the jobs and the tax revenue that the industry brings in to get a better sense of what the industry is bringing to Maryland," Atticks said.
But with so many restaurants and shops still not carrying Maryland wines, it's clear more green needs to go toward promoting wineries and the red and whites they're making
"Wineries are growing most of the grapes in this state and I think if we have a better success in our sales, there is more incentive to plant more vineyards,” said Basignani. “And so I think that the sales and marketing really promote the agriculture aspect of it."