Niki Kellett, Kerrie McCarthy and Erin Gilgunn were road-tripping their way back to Massachusetts having started in Florida. They were taking an alternate route, winding their way vaguely up the coast when they stopped in Berlin to get some food and knock around for awhile. The ladies popped in at the Maryland Wine Bar hoping against hope that they could get a couple of wine slushies to take on their stroll around town.
Owner Deborah Everett had some bad news for them. The law says wine slushies only are sold to stay, but the four women got to chatting and the visitors decided to sit awhile and have a tasting. Before long they were hanging out and sharing travel stories, the ladies already had had a bunch of adventures and were looking forward to the final push of the last leg of their epic trip. Deborah spoke with them about some of her favorite spots in Florida, then the conversation turned to Charlotte. Occasionally, they even talked about the wine they were tasting.
Deborah started the Maryland Wine Bar in 2012 with her husband Mike Everett. Mike built the bar and the wine racks from scratch while Deborah worked at the design. She was freshly out of the interior design business and looking to start something a little more recession proof. You can’t ever go wrong with a bar.
Learning the wine ropes
Wine is a tricky industry. Even as it becomes a little more democratized, there still can be an aura of intimidation to go with it and finding the sweet spot to offer the right wines to the right people can be a challenge.
“When I opened I only did Maryland wines,” Deborah said. “But after awhile I expanded to California and international wines.”
More recently she added the slushies, which draw people in off the street just as it did the road-trippers. The hotter it is, the more appealing the premise of sipping on a grownup treat while watching the world go by in Berlin. To accommodate the non-wine drinkers she also serves local craft beer from Burley Oak and Fin City.
There is a super light menu to accompany the wine. The fruit and cheese plates and similar snacks are more to make sure you have a little something on your stomach or a little something to please your palate than they are meals. The place isn’t a restaurant.
Still, the wines are reasonably priced and for $40 or so a couple can split a bottle of wine over a cheese plate and then saunter out into the Berlin afternoon to shop or just to stroll. In fact, in 2017 the Maryland Wine Bar was named one of the top 10 Wine Bars in the state by “Best Things Maryland.”
Open Mics at the Maryland Wine Bar
As part of the Arts and Entertainment District in Berlin, the Maryland Wine Bar participates in all of the 2nd Friday events, booking entertainment to play in the adjacent space. It is a coffee shop by day and a wine lounge in the evening. Wine and the arts go together pretty well, and there’s something romantic about music with a bottle of wine, so they try and have a little more of it when they can.
In addition to the occasional pop-up event, each 3rd Wednesday there’s an open mic in the lounge hosted by George and Pat Bilenki, but there always are a couple of fun things going on in the Maryland Wine Bar. Check in with them on Facebook or at their website for up to day hours and information.
Tony Russo has worked as a print and digital journalist for the better part of the 21st century, writing for and editing regional weeklies and dailies before joining the team that produces OceanCity.com and ShoreCraftBeer.com among other destination websites. In addition to having documented everything from zoning changes to art movements on the Delmarva Peninsula, Tony has written two books on beer for the History Press. Eastern Shore Beer was published in 2014 and Delaware Beer in 2016. He lives in Delmar, Md. with his wife Kelly and the only of his four daughters who hasn't moved out. Together they keep their two dogs comfortable.