Layton's Chance Vineyard & Winery
Layton's Chance Vineyard & Winery
4225 New Bridge Rd.
Phone: (410) 228-1205
Contact: Jennifer Layton
The Laytons have been farming in the Salem area of Dorchester County for several generations. The 1800 acres currently under their management is known affectionately as Lazy Day Farms. Joseph H. Layton, Sr. bought the original farm in 1948, and farmed until 1981. In the mid-70s, Joseph H. Layton, Jr. and Laura Layton purchased Lazy Day Farms, which they still farm today with their son William. Over the years they have raised cattle and tomatoes; today they grow corn, soybeans, wheat and grapes. William and his wife Jennifer Layton, and their children Stephen and Alison, live on the Home Farm which is also the location of the new winery.
In an effort to diversify their farming operation the family reevaluated their business, and a few years ago joined Maryland’s growing wine trade. They planted their first grapes in 2007, choosing to grow grapes hardy and well-suited to the Eastern Shore. The name Layton’s Chance comes from a family property nearby, an indication of the strong family history in the area.
While the vines were climbing trellises, the Laytons took on different aspects of the project. Joe, Laura, William and Jennifer each own a quarter of the winery and make decisions by consensus, however each family member plays a distinct role.
As the vineyards and winery grow however, so does the staff. Below we have introductions of some of the faces you'll see when you visit Layton's Chance.
Originally from Pittsburgh, Jennifer met William while both were studying at the University of Maryland. They married immediately after graduation, and she was eventually convinced to settle on the Eastern Shore.
For the first year of the winery's operations, Jen maintained a career as a Project Manager in Salisbury, volunteering her evenings and weekends for the winery. However, in February 2011 Jennifer became the General Manager for the winery, overseeing all winery operations. Her expertise in marketing and her practical thinking is essential to the success of the winery.
Laura Hill Layton, from Snow Hill, MD, is known throughout Dorchester County after having taught English here for 33.3 years. Although she retired from teaching in 2008, her life stayed busy as she took on full time office management duties for the winery. She maintains our accounts, handles purchases and ordering, and coordinates private events.
Laura is devoted to reading and her grandchildren. We love having her calm demeanor in the office to patiently deal with whatever crisis comes up.
William Layton graduated from the University of Maryland with a business degree which he immediately put to use. Growing up, William spent most of his time working on the farm so he was happy to take a job with Toyota after college. He spent 8 years living in different U.S. cities and exploring life off the farm.
However, when the question of succession arose, William answered the call to return to farming. He is the Winemaker, as well as general manager of vineyard and farm operations. This photo shows William with his very first finished bottle of wine..
Chloé Wieland, of Trappe, MD, was hired for the winery in October 2009. A 2006 graduate of the University of Virginia, she spent some years abroad before returning to the Eastern Shore.
She brings experience in marketing and training, and she is responsible for managing the tasting room, maintaining the website and other communication/promotion areas, coordinating events, sales and distribution. Since the opening of the winery Chloé has not had many opportunities to work in the vineyard but she always enjoys a chance to work with the vines!
Richard Murphy, originally from Salisbury, began working with the Laytons in October 2009. After serving 9 years in the Marines, he now lives in Easton with his wife and 3 children.
Richard has experience in construction and property management, and now, in vineyard management. His primary role is construction and maintenance of the 12 acres of vineyard. Richard and the boys (Taylor and Garland, see below) also work in the winery, making wine, cleaning tanks, and doing all the essential things needed to keep the winery running smoothly. In his free time he likes to go hunting and metal detecting.
Garland Smith is a resident of Cambridge, who graduated in 2010. He works in the vineyard and winery, and occasionally on the farm. His favorite jobs involve driving tractors but he also spends quite a bit of time in the winery, racking wine and cleaning tanks. In his free time he likes to work on cars and go hunting. Garland plans to become a welder and will begin classes this fall.
Taylor Cole lives in East New Market and graduated from high school in 2011. He enjoys the physical labor side of working in the vineyard, such as driving posts and laying out the new vineyard. Outside of work he enjoys playing guitar and fixing up his car. He looks forward to taking classes at Chesapeake College in the summer.
Joseph Layton graduated from the University of Maryland College of Agriculture with a degree in Agronomy, and he has been farming ever since. His careful attention has kept Lazy Day Farms productive for almost 40 years, a feat which he and his wife Laura were honored for in 2011 with their induction into the MD Agriculture Hall of Fame.
Joe continues to handle farm operations, while sharing ownership of the winery and participating in the decision-making process for winery operations. You might catch Joe running the back roads of Vienna early in the morning, a habit he maintains well enough to have run three full marathons!
Chuck Rohner has been working at Lazy Day Farms since November 2009. Although originally from Ohio, he has been settled in Dorchester for many years. He mainly works with Joe on the farm but can also be found driving tractors in the vineyard or helping in the winery. Feel free to ask him for a story- he's got a great collection!
Winemaker: William Layton
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