If you have never visited any of Maryland’s wonderful wineries, I have to ask. Why not? Maryland is such a short drive from the Philadelphia area and it also makes a great weekend getaway. In addition to this, Maryland makes some really nice wines. We’ve always been partial to St. Michaels Winery (future article to come) on the eastern shore. But this time, we decided to visit some cousin’s of Eric’s in the Bethesda area of Maryland. As always, Eric’s family opened their arms and kitchen to me. The night before our wine extravaganza, we were treated to a wonderful home cooked meal, where they opened up a bottle of Red 2001 La Rioja Alta Rioja Viña Ardanza Reserva Especial. Perfecto!
Next morning, bright and early, we got up, had coffee and ventured out to visit a local winery, some wine bars, and take a trip to downtown Bethesda. Our first stop was a local farmers market, Heyser Farms, that included a wonderful winery, Great Shoals Winery, located in Silver Springs. A small, cozy tasting room, but the wines were big on flavor! Great Shoals also has a wide variety of ciders and sparkling wines for those of you who are looking for more variety. We even bought a couple of their ciders. They were delicious! Great Shoals have won their fair share of awards, medals, ribbons and are quite proud of it. As they should be. On the day that we visited, their premier tastings selection included: bosc and bartlett hard pear pinot gris, a red (staff pick), Celebration Barbera, Hard Apple Draft Bay Fire, Hard Strawberry and a Ginger Hard Apple.
Overall, this tasting was absolutely wonderful. Major thanks to Great Shoals Winery for their hospitality, information and dedication to making fantastic wines, ciders and sparkling wines. We can’t wait to come back and visit them again. Also, don’t miss the chance to shop at Heyser Farms as well. They had everything you could wish for. Fresh produce, fruits, you name it, they had it. Next time your in Silver Springs, be sure to stop by and check this farm and winery out!
The day was still young, so our next stop, we traveled to beautiful Bethesda. This was our first time there and trust me when I say, it won’t be our last. It was absolutely beautiful! Everything you could want is within a 10 minute walk. Food, wine, restaurants, groceries, shops, you name it, Bethesda has it. The downtown area is so quaint, you forget how large it really is. It comes across as a very walk-able and pedestrian friendly town.
My wonderful cousins-in-law took us to a fantastic french restaurant, Mon Ami Gabi. Mon Ami Gabi reminded us so much of the wonderful Philadelphia french restaurant Parc, it was downright scary! The wonderful service, attention to detail, delicious food and of course, the wine. Next time we are in Bethesda, we are so having dinner here. This afternoon, we just ordered a round of appetizers and drinks but it was so delicious! A sampling of what we ordered was the house-made country pate that was served with cornichons and whole grain mustard and the steamed artichoke served with shaved vegetables & a lemon dijon vinaigrette. To go with our wonderful appetizers, I ordered the Beaujoais Villages-Georges Duboeuf 2015 and Eric ordered the Bordeaux Superieur Chateau Laronde Desormes 2014. Both were outstanding. Beautiful color, wonderful aroma and the acidity balanced the fruitiness of the wine. The weather was perfect so we sat outside and leisurely enjoyed our food and drinks. Mon Ami Gabi is everything you would expect in a classic, quaint french restaurant.
Our last stop was the Urban Winery. The decor was very nice, rustic with no frills. The food was presented beautifully. We only ordered the stuffed grape leaves and a wine flight. The grape leaves could have used a bit more seasoning or spice but were not bad. The menu is heavily Mediterranean influenced. That is never, ever a bad thing. We all enjoyed the wine flights ordered. I wish we could have spent more time here. We’ll definitely go back and give the menu a proper tasting and report back to all of you.
All in all, it was a quick but very nice trip. Only a couple hour’s drive, Maryland offers so much. If you still crave that urban feeling, head to Baltimore or the Bethesda area. If you want a more laid back, quiet experience, head to the eastern shore. If you’re a wine lover like us, you won’t go wrong on either side of the Chesapeake. And again, we want to thank our fabulous cousins for putting us up for the weekend and showing us around the wonderful area. Happy trails!
Great Shoals Winery!
Mon Ami Gabi!