In effort to diversify the family agronomic operation, Joe and Laura Layton, their son William – a third generation farmer – and his wife Jennifer chose to start a vineyard. Less than five years since uncorking that first bottle of Layton’s Chance wine, the business continues to thrive, exceeding production and distribution goals in 2013.
More than ‘value-added’ agriculture, Layton’s – like many wineries throughout the country – has become a thriving destination for tourists and residents alike. At least 30,000 people have visited the Vienna operation to purchase wine, tour the vineyards or attend one of their many festivals and special events.
Layton’s Chance Vineyard and Winery is the first farm in Dorchester County to expand into a winery. They offer a nature trail, picnic area with outdoor games, happy hours on Friday nights and a summer concert series. The winery also features an event room for rental. Co-owner Jennifer Layton added, “Dorchester County is a great place to have a business, especially a family business. Everyone is so friendly and they appreciate the wonderful quality of life. There is so much to do in Dorchester; it makes for great conversation when guests visit the winery!”
The family’s farming and vineyard operation employs six people full-time and seven part-time including the tasting room staff. During the harvest, they hire an additional five people.
Maryland has experienced remarkable wine growth in the past decade. During fiscal year 2013, the state sold 1,739,637 bottles of Maryland produced wine. The average bottle price was $15; totaling $26,094,549 in Maryland produced wine sales throughout the state. Their 2013 sales increased 8.8 percent over fiscal year 2012.
“This year’s crops will yield over 60,000 bottles of wine, a significant increase from our first year’s production of 7,000 gallons,” Jennifer Layton says. In keeping with Dorchester County’s agricultural heritage, the Layton family has had to adapt like many other farmers who have diversified. They have adjusted their business from working with a few business-to-business customers to attracting several daily customers. Layton added, “It is a necessity in order to keep farms sustainable for the future.”
In effort to attract businesses, market and unify the county, the Dorchester County Economic Development office developed the “water moves us” marketing campaign. This serves as the department’s brand identity as well as a multi-platform, cooperative marketing campaign to promote Dorchester’s assets and opportunities.
The branding initiative features seven local business used to showcase local industry. Jennifer Layton is featured as one of the seven business faces promoting Dorchester County’s agricultural sector.
For more information on Layton’s Chance Vineyard and Winery, please visit laytonschance.com and remember to “Like” them on Facebook!