More wine sales at farmers' markets? Time has come


May 18, 2011

A current trendy word is locavore. It means someone who eats, as much as possible, food grown or raised locally. Such a person not only consumes food that is probably fresher, but also supports farmers in the community.

Which brings us to Baltimore County's farmers' markets — havens for locavores. These markets, including two new ones, are open now, or soon will be, with booths offering locally produced vegetables, baked goods and cheeses.

And, this year, farmers' market browsers may come across a new product produced locally — wine.

Legislation signed into law last week by Gov. Martin O'Malley will allow Maryland vintners greater access to farmers' markets to hold more wine-selling "special events." Wineries at farmers' markets must sell wine by the bottle — not the glass.

Wineries can now use 12 permits for wine-sales events at farmers' markets in each of the counties that has passed the legislation — that now includes Baltimore County — as well as 12 special events statewide.

This makes a lot of sense. For one thing, it acknowledges that growing grapes and making wine is agriculture and that vintners are, in fact, farmers who deserve the same access to customers as people who grow corn or watermelons.

Wine sales will be a draw to farmers' markets, perhaps boosting sales of produce, and shoppers can save themselves a trip to a liquor store. We think shoppers will respond enthusiastically if given an opportunity to spend their wine-buying dollar on a locally fermented merlot or chardonnay.

The local-eating trend is growing. Farmers' markets are thriving and the county has two new ones, one at the Maryland State Fairgrounds, in Timonium, from 3-6 p.m. on Wednesdays beginning June 1 and the other at 5200 Southwestern Blvd., in Arbutus, from 3-6 p.m. on Thursdays beginning June 9.

Some restaurants now boast of serving meals consisting mostly or entirely of local foods.

Customers at Baltimore County's farmers' markets now have opportunities to shop like locavores when they pick out food for a meal and when they choose a bottle of wine to wash it down with.

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