Family Eyes Winery For Farm Property

BERLIN – A local family is hoping to turn a historic farm near Route 589 into a winery and special event venue.

Berlin resident Brittany Mariner has partnered with her parents, Barry and Jeannie Mariner, to develop Windmill Creek Winery at the family’s longtime property on Old Worcester Highway. The facility will feature a vineyard, tasting room and special event venue.

“We’d like to be up and running in three years,” Jeannie Mariner said this week.

The Mariners have just started working with county officials to get the project off the ground. They’re working with the Worcester County Department of Development Review and permitting on a text amendment that would permit special events at vineyards. They met with the county’s technical review committee Wednesday to discuss logistics of the site itself. Though there is only a sketch plan of the project at this point, committee members pointed out parking requirements, forestry mandates and access issues.

Jennifer Keener, zoning administrator for the county, explained that certain requirements would have to be met before the property could operate as winery.

“You’re taking a residential, agricultural property and you’re asking to make it commercial,” she said.

While confident they want to host special events such as weddings, the Mariners said they weren’t yet sure whether they wanted to erect a building for that specific purpose. They have plans to install a windmill and said they’d considered building a large barn but were also thinking about simply erecting a trellis display for marriage ceremonies.

The property, which abuts Windmill Creek, is currently home to a farmhouse that Barry Mariner says dates back to the 18th century. It’s being restored now and is expected to be complete in the spring. The site has already been planted with six acres of grapes under the guidance of Brittany, who studied viticulture in college.

“We’ve got the grapes growing but we’re at least two years out (from having wine),” Jeannie Mariner said.

Brittany Mariner agreed and said that it while the facility would be able to offer tastings in a few years, bottles of wine were at least five years away.

The Mariners believe the property is ideal for a winery and special event venue, particularly since it’s just 10 minutes from Ocean City and even closer to Berlin and Ocean Pines. They’re eager to get the project underway and encourage anyone who’s interested to follow its progress by looking up “Mariner Farm Restoration” on Facebook.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.