The Layton family has been a presence in Dorchester County agriculture since Joseph H. Layton, Sr., purchased the original farm in 1948. In the mid-70s the next generation, Joe and his wife Laura, continued to add to their holdings by purchasing Lazy Day Farms and turning it into a successful grain operation. Yet, it would take another Layton – William – heeding the call of succession to bring the idea of Layton’s Chance Winery & Vineyard to fruition.
“I never thought William would come back to the farm,” Laura said. But, on the same day that William and Jennifer called to tell Joe and Laura that they were to be grandparents, he announced his intentions to do just that. In 2003, after years of living all over the country, and with their two young children (Stephen and Alison) in tow, William and Jennifer arrived and began their new adventure.
First on the list was a review of the entire operation, which already included grain, corn and soybeans. The family reevaluated the family farm, looking for places to expand, contract and diversify. It was during that process that the idea to grow grapes was raised, and in 2005 preparation of the ground began. In 2007 the family took a leap of faith, planting grapes suited for the climate of the Eastern Shore.. They anxiously waited to see if their hard work would bear fruit, and bear it did. In 2010, the family opened the winery that would come to be known as Layton’s Chance. In 2021, the Layton’s decided to focus solely on grape growing and winemaking. While there is still corn, wheat and soybeans grown on their property, the farmland is rented to another local farmer who has the same values in land stewardship.
While Joe, Laura, William and Jennifer each own a quarter of the winery and make decisions by consensus, each family member plays a distinct role. With a strong family bond and teamwork, the Vineyard has since expanded from just six acres of grapes to 14 acres, and production has increased from five wines that first year to a selection of more than 20.
Situated on part of the 1,800 acres that makes up the family farm, the Winery features a Tasting Room that is open daily, as well as weekend tours of the 15-acre Vineyard, walking trails, a play area and picnic space.
Over the years, the farm has been honored in many ways. It is in the Maryland Agriculture Hall of Fame and is recognized as a Certified Agricultural Conservation Steward by the Dorchester County Soil Conservation District.
Layton’s Chance wines have won many prestigious awards. A few include:
- Joe’s Cool Red Turbo Charged
Bronze – 2016 Finger Lakes International Competition
- Laura’s Lemonade
2017 Maryland Governor’s Cup Bronze Medalist
- Bo Berry Strawberry
2018 Maryland’s Comptroller Cup: Best in Class Fruit 2018 Maryland’s Comptroller Cup: Gold Medal
- Lazy Day Rosé
Silver – 2016 Finger Lakes International Competition