Yesterday was an amazing summer day! Beautiful outside, and definitely hot, but not so horrible in the shade. Definitely would have needed some sunscreen if we didn’t camp out at some nice picnic benches at great shoals winery! I’ve wanted to try out this winery for a while since it’s pretty much smack between where I live and Baltimore, where we have a number of friends! However today was so gorgeous and we were in the area anyway shopping for fabric for my bridesmaid dress (J’s wedding is only 3 months away!!! It’s so close!), so groupon in hand, we trekked off to see how it was!
I’m used to bigger wineries, and more commercial ones, so this was a refreshing albeit a little surprising, experience. We turned down a short gravelled drive, and there was definitely a good number of cars packed into the tiny parking area. I was a little confused at first because the first thing that we saw was the expanse of farm rolling out before you, and the farmer’s market and fresh flowers and plants for sale. You could even see some of the workers picking and tending to the farm, which gave it a really homey feel to me. All of the employees that we passed were extremely kind and had smiles and nods for us. Our groupon included a cheese platter which was a good variety, and tasty, although apparently they use cheeses that are not available for purchase at the market, which I found a little strange. Still, the woman pouring for us did recommend the farmer’s market cheddar, so we grabbed a sundried tomato and basil cheddar for later! Honestly I wanted a little more flavor in it when we did break into it, but it was by no means a bad cheese. Just about average.
The winery’s tasting room is actually nestled in a small room inside the actual farmer’s market. Great Shoals actually has a variety of ciders, wines, and sparkling wines, and we tried some new things that I definitely enjoyed! I forgot to take a picture of the cute sign of what we sampled, but suffice it to say that we tried 8 tasting pours, of which 2 were pear ciders, 1 strawberry wine, 1 dessert apple cider, and probably 4-5 white wines. I might be slightly mis-remembering but I’d approximate half ciders and half wines. The woman who was pouring for us also specifically asked if we had a preference for dry or sweet, which was a nice touch in case people have a preference. Both T’s and my favorite was the Bay Fire, made with Catawba grapes. It was both sweet and tart at the same time, and so after our tasting we relaxed with our typical picnic spread: the cheese we bought from the market paired with salamis, ham, and bread brought with us from the grocery store. We purchased a bottle of the Bay Fire, and at only $16, it’s a perfect patio wine for a hot evening this summer!
All in all, I found Great Shoals to be quaint. I think that’s the appropriate word, because it’s definitely not like some of the bigger Virginia wineries, or even most of the ones on the Antietem Trail in Maryland. The tasting room I think had a grand total of 3 tables and the bar, so it’s definitely small and homey. But it was a fun excursion, and if you’re feeling a little off the beaten path, then this is a winery for you!
Great Shoals Winery
Great Shoals Winery Website
14526 New Hampshire Ave
Silver Spring, MD 20904