- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 24, 2006

Both Maryland and Virginia uncorked plans last week to promote their wine industries.

In Maryland, the Board of Public Works approved two grants, worth a combined $98,000, to promote the wine industry there. The grants went to the Maryland Grape Growers Association and the Maryland Wineries Association and are to be used to advertise wine in stores and at festivals.

It’s likely the largest amount the state has contributed to the wine industry for educational and promotional work, said Rob Deford, proprietor of Boordy Vineyards and director of government affairs at the Maryland Wineries Association.

The funds will be used to develop programs such as a wine trail linking the state’s wineries and a site map to show future grape growers land attributes such as slopes, soils and rainfall.

“When you have something really good going on in your back yard that promotes high value, intensive agriculture that’s profitable, it should be promoted,” Mr. Deford said. “This very activity does not happen to have a lot of money for advertising. We are grateful for the infusion of capital.”

Virginia has dubbed October “Wine Month” and will observe it with a series of festivals at the commonwealth’s 100 wineries.

“Culinary tourism is really hot right now, and more and more travelers are building their trips around great places to eat and try new wine,” said Tamra Talmadge-Anderson, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Tourism Corp. in Richmond. “Virginia is in an excellent position to capitalize on this trend — our wineries are growing.”

She said that at least half of Virginia’s wineries have reported that visits to their tasting rooms have increased from 10 percent to 30 percent this year.

Hotels veg out

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. and Marriott International Inc. received unique honors last week. They were named among the most vegetarian-friendly hotel chains in the country.

The hotel chains, based in Chevy Chase and Bethesda, respectively, were noted by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for their vegetarian and vegan options in their restaurants and room service.

Ritz-Carlton received a rating of A. Marriott received a B.

“Vegetarians don’t have to take out a luxury suite at a Ritz-Carlton or a Marriott to get VIP treatment in the restaurant,” said PETA Vice President Bruce Friedrich. “More and more people are going vegetarian, and these two hotel chains are responding by offering delicious vegetarian and vegan fare that appeals to everyone.”

Natives are tourists, too

• Cultural Tourism DC is holding its annual fall walking tour series Saturday. Participants can choose among 25 tours, such as a bicycle tour of Anacostia, a walking tour of Embassy Row, a walking tour behind the scenes of the Metrorail system or a boat tour of maritime Washington.

The idea is to get residents to view their town as a tourism and cultural destination. Only about 10 percent of participants are tourists, according to Cultural Tourism DC, a D.C. nonprofit group that promotes arts and cultural programs.

Retail & Hospitality appears Mondays. Contact Jen Haberkorn at 202/636-4836 or jhaberkorn@washingtontimes.com.

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