Article Featured in Momentum Magazine
Joe Layton, class of ’70, is featured in Momentum, University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Vol 13, No 2 2015.
“Joe Layton says his favorite work is driving his tractor in the fields of the family’s Lazy Day Farm. Started by his father in 1948, the farm has 1250 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat.
But in 2000, the Laytons wanted another way to earn more money. Layton’s son, William ’96, and wife, Jennifer, wanted to return to the farm and, says Joe “We had to find a new way to support two families.”
So, after six months of looking at the possibilities, the Laytons came up with the answer, Wine. “We started learning everything we could,” Joe says. “Every Sunday morning for two years, we sat down at the kitchen table and planned.”
Lazy Day still grows field crops, but today. Layton’s Chance Vineyard & Winery has 15 acres of grapes that produce 9,000 gallons of wine with names like Joe’s Cool Red, that are sold all over the state. There’s a tasting room, event site and vineyard tours, often led by Joe.
“I was confident as far as agronomy,” Joe says, “but with wine, the costs are so far ahead of the earnings. You try to decide what’s going to be popular five years from now.”
The work and risk have been worth it, Joe says. “I’m usually the last one out of the tasting room at night. I walk around and think ‘We really did this.’ It’s something I would never have imagined.