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courtesy of Ratebeer

Although we have visited several Virginia wineries, DUVAI Blog also gives love to Maryland wineries. We recently visited Great Shoals Winery in Silver Spring, MD. This winery is very unassuming. It’s right on New Hampshire Avenue and there is a flag that says “Great Shoals” and a sign that says apples and wine. The winery is located within Heyser Farms. So when you go in, it looks like you are just going to a farmer’s market but in the back, there they are.

We first tasted Great Shoals wines and drafts at the Winefest at Sotterly. Because it was the end of the day, we only sampled two wines so when we were in the area and decided to swing through to the winery. And of course, wine is more fun with friends–in this case family! Our cousin met us up there.

Brace yourselves for this one…Great Shoals has 21 wines on their tasting list. 21!! And, you can taste all 21 pending they have them in stock but you will pay by type (i.e. ciders are $6, wines are $5, etc.). When we went, they were out of 5 so we tasted almost all 16. We tapped around number 13!

Courtesy of the Downtown College Park Farmers Market Website

Courtesy of the Downtown College Park Farmers Market Website

With so many wines, ciders and sparklings to taste, we’ll highlight a few. First thing we did when we arrived was join the wine club. The benefits are similar to North Gate and we love the variety that Great Shoals offers. With that, our tastings were free for all 3 of us. And, by the end, our cousin signed up for the wine club, too.  Since we’re on this topic, their wine club is unique in that you get quarterly shipments but you can select 2, 4, 6 or 12 bottles per quarter and choose between ciders, sparklings or a mix of all they offer. We did the 4 and the mix so we’ll report out in February.

Let’s start with the ciders. We had the Pear Draft before and it was great but they were out when we visited. We did like the Whiskey-Barrel Fermented Hard Apple ($15.50) and the Peach Draft ($15.50). These were sweeter than other hard apple ciders. You could definitely taste the fruit. Also, we tried the Bosc & Bartlett Hard Pear ($15). It was a little dry and reminded us of champagne but had that slight hint of pear.

Standouts in the wine category were the Bayside Mist ($18) which is made from 30% Chardonnay and 70% Vidal Blanc. The Chardonnay was noticeable in scent and taste but with the Vidal Blanc, it balanced so well. They also had a Stainless Steel Chardonnay and a Barrel Fermented Chardonnay (both $22). The latter definitely had that oaky-ness that Chardonnay is known for but it wasn’t overpowering by any means. Just nice and mellow. If you aren’t a Chardonnay fan like Chelai, you’ll probably like these. She liked both which really says alot.

As for the sparklings, all of them were good. The 2011 Vidal Sparkling ($38) and 2012 Vidal Sparkling ($35) were different from each other in that the 2011 was dryer and the 2012 was more Champagne-like. They were bruts but 2012 had a touch more citrus. Vidal grapes tend to give wines a very slight sweetness but it’s not strong or overpowering at all and the taste is clean and pleasant. It’s a great balance in a blend.

We could talk about more of their wines, but with 21 and we’ve done several already, it’s better that you pop in for a visit and try some yourself. There is definitely something for every palate. There is also a special until January 2nd where if you buy 6+ wines, you get 15% off. And, there’s a Groupon for half off a tasting as of the publishing of this post. Just more incentives!

Purchases: Bayside Mist, Barrel Fermented Chardonnay, Whiskey-Barrel Fermented Hard Apple

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