The winter freeze is gone, and longer days invite a glass of rosé or chilled sauvignon blanc once 5 o’clock hits. Also, it’s Maryland Wine Month.

This celebration, meant to highlight the state’s local wine industry, has been clouded by a recent contract dispute regarding the upcoming Wine in the Woods festival, held at Symphony Woods, near Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia.

The Maryland Wineries Association board voted last week to end its partnership with the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks after being unable to reach an agreement over compensation. The association created the popular annual wine festival with the county three decades ago.

“It’s disappointing that this has occurred at a time when we are trying to highlight the amazing industry we have in our state,” said Janna Howley, executive director of the Maryland Wineries Association, in an interview.

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The decision to end the partnership was not made lightly or without much consideration, the association said in a statement.

“Recent decisions made by Howard County leadership — significantly reducing the terms of the annual revenue sharing arrangement — made our continued participation untenable,” the association said.

The annual contract outlines the association’s participation, responsibilities and percentage of ticket sales revenue. This year’s offer from the county was drastically reduced from years prior, according to the MWA.

Wine in the Woods, happening May 18 and 19 this year, was modeled after the Maryland Wine Festival that takes place annually in September at the Carroll County Farm Museum in Westminster. Wine in the Woods annually draws 15,000 visitors. There are expected to be more than 10 wineries and six breweries at this year’s event, according to the festival’s website.

However, some long-time participating wineries and members of MWA have dropped out of the festival, including Linganore Winecellars in Mt. Airy, Boordy Vineyards in Hydes, Elk Run Winery in Mt. Airy and Philosophy Winery & Vineyard.

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“We want this event to continue and be successful. We did not ask members to not participate,” Howley said.

Nick Mooneyhan, director of Howard County’s Department of Recreation and Parks, said in a statement: “The support services that DRP needs for Wine in the Woods has evolved over the years. While some of those services are still needed,” Mooneyhan wrote, their value was not mutually agreed upon between MWA and DRP.”

The department of recreation and parks did not answer a Banner question about what types of services are needed for Wine in the Woods as of Friday afternoon.

“We valued MWA’s involvement in Wine in the Woods in the past and are disappointed that the two parties were not able to agree to mutually beneficial terms after several rounds of negotiation,” Mooneyhan said.

Rob Deford, owner of Boordy Vineyards and member of the MWA’s government affairs committee, said in an interview that the association acted in good faith and made the right decision.

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Deford said, “albeit regrettable,” Boordy Vineyards didn’t hesitate to withdraw from Wine in the Woods.

“I would love to see it go back to a viable agreement, something that is mutually beneficial. I hold no ill will toward the county, it is a business decision to them, and their business decision forced us to make a business decision,” Deford said.

Until then, “drink Maryland wine,” Deford said. “We make great wines here in Maryland.”