The Arbutus Farmers Market isn't just for fruits, vegetables, flowers and baked goods anymore.
On July 28, the market organized by the Arbutus Business and Professional Association that is open 2-6 p.m. Thursdays, welcomed a representative from Boordy Vineyards selling bottles of wine.
It's fitting that Boordy Vineyards will sell the first bottles of wine at the Arbutus market because, according to its website, it became Baltimore's first commercial winery in 1945.
"We've done pretty well," said Sue Bosley during a lull between early arrivals to the market and the expected influx of commuters from the early evening MARC train.
"People are surprised to see us, but pleasantly surprised," said the Arbutus resident, who manned the Boordy booth on the parking lot of the Arbutus Volunteer Fire Department where the market is held.
She theorized the low turnout last week may have been due to the heat and the fact the market had been closed for two weeks due to the volunteer fire department's annual summer carnival.
"That may have thrown people off," she said, noting some market customers like to get into a weekly rhythm when it comes to buying fresh, locally grown products.
Arbutus resident Jeff Cather said he stopped by the market to buy iced tea. The July 28 market also featured two stands selling fresh produce with others selling olive oil, baked goods, crafts — and even maple syrup.
Cather said he wasn't a wine person, but was impressed enough after a sample taste to purchase a variety pack of four different wines.
"I like Boordy," he said. "I've been to their vineyards."
Chris Harcourt, another Arbutus resident, said she was happy to have Boordy come to her, instead of the other way around.
"It's a ways to go all the way up there. It's good I could taste it here," she said as she walked back to her car with her purchase.
The market's final hour proved a busy one for Bosley, as one woman bought two bottles and three couples each purchased a bottle.
Bosley estimated she sold about three-quarters of the five cases (60 bottles) she brought with her for Boordy's debut in Arbutus.
She said she has represented "the oldest winery in Maryland" at farmers markets in Bethesda, Silver Spring and Towson as well.
The benefits for the winery in Hydes, Maryland, are two-fold, she said.
"Make money. Of course, we want to make a profit," said Bosley, whose stand offered several different varieties at $11-13 a bottle, with sangria the most popular last week.
"And get the word out. Amazingly enough, a lot of people in Maryland have not heard of it," she said of Boordy's brand recognition, especially in markets closer toWashington, D.C.
A law signed by Gov. Martin O'Malley in May allows vintners to sell bottles of wine, but not individual servings, at farmers markets in Baltimore County and any other county that has passed the legislation as many as 12 times each year.
The wineries also receive 12 permits to attend wine-sales events statewide.
"By promoting Maryland wineries, as we do other agriculture, it is good for our community, and good for the farm and good for the state," said ABPA president Patti Sue Nolan, who noted the legislation passed the General Assembly without an opposing vote.
In anticipation of the bill passing, Nolan said, she started courting wineries in March.
Why not sell wine at farmers markets?
A vineyard is just a grape farm, after all.
"We do practice sustainable farming. We do a lot of hand harvesting," said Sharon Kopt, a spokeswoman for Boordy Vineyards. "Everything is done by hand. All of our grapes are picked by hand, all of the vines are pruned by hand.
"You're buying your local produce, your local meats and dairies and cheeses. Why not buy your local wine and support that part of the local aspect?"
In addition to the Arbutus Farmers Market, Kopt said Boordy Vineyards hosts its own farmers market and will participate in four other farmers' markets in Baltimore County.
"All that hard work goes into not just selling in the liquor stores," Kopt said. "It's also increasing the awareness out at a farmers market that we are a vineyard, that we are harvesting grapes, that we are a farm also."
The farmers' markets, she said, allow customers to talk about what type of wine fits their palette or the meal they wish to pair it with and even sample the product.
"You do get to take a little more time with the customers (at a farmers market) and explain to them a little more in depth," Kopt said.
Since the legislation allowing wine to be sold at the markets passed just months ago, Nolan said Boordy Vineyards is the only winery to commit to selling at the Arbutus Farmers Market.
"Many of the wineries are still finding their way through the paperwork," Nolan said. "We expect more to come to our market as the season goes on."
Kopt said Boordy will return to the Arbutus Farmers Market on October 27, the last day of the Thursday market before it closes for the year.