Starting off on the right foot begins with site selection: New wineries seek out the right land, then think carefully about which grapes will grow best on which parcel. The result is a better crop, which makes better wine.

Ed Boyce and his wife, Sarah O’Herron, owners of Mount Airy’s Black Ankle Vineyards, were among the first of the new, better-informed winemakers to set up shop in Maryland. Before starting Black Ankle in 2001, they researched the land and climate.

“The most important thing is the soil,” said Boyce. “When you look at Maryland vs. other wine-growing regions, our temperatures are great and our sunlight is great, but we have more rain. If you plant a grapevine in really fertile soil with a lot of water, you get a huge grapevine with lousy grapes.”

Boyce and O’Herron identified a piece of land that is “a pile of rocks with a few minerals in it,” he said.

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