After brunch at Soul restaurant in Annapolis on Saturday, September 9th, it took us just over five minutes to drive the 2.2 miles to Great Frogs Winery (click here to see their full listing in our Food & Drink Business Directory). Like The Vineyards at Dodon winery, Great Frogs requires a reservation for a tasting. It isn’t run on an open-house basis, where anyone can drop-by during business hours. We had made a reservation through the VinoVisit system for a tasting at 1:30 PM (there’s a reservation-link on the Great Frogs website).
The trip there takes you through a fairly well-developed suburban area. It was hard to believe there was a winery that close by, as most of the ones we’ve visited are in pretty rural settings. Of course, if the winery is a processing, fermentation, storage and bottling facility and the vineyards are in other locales, the winery can be in a warehouse district for all the wine may care.
As you can see on the home-made map, you enter from Harness Creek Road at the southeast corner of the map. You drive through the vineyards, past the tasting room, and into the parking area. The tasting room is a refurbished tobacco barn. You’ll notice the gaps between the boards in the walls of the barn. Those spaces allowed air to circulate and help dry the tobacco hung in the barn. The interior has been beautifully decorated for use as a tasting room.
When we checked-in, we were escorted to our assigned table. Once seated, a waitress reviewed the tasting menu with us. She then went to get our wine samples and snacks. While we waited we listened to the live music coming from outdoors. Jordan Sokel of Annapolis was singing and playing guitar under a canvas awning in the entertainment area. He sounded something like Dave Matthews.
In the photo of Sokel, you might notice the ladies at the picnic table behind him to the right who have their dogs with them. We were happy to see that Great Frogs Winery is dog friendly (so long as your dog is friendly, and well-behaved). We’ll plan to bring our Scottish Terrier, Angus, with us the next time we visit.
The price of admission for a standard tasting is $35 per person. For that, you get to taste six varieties of wine, along with some cheese, crackers, olives, and water. The bottled water is useful for rinsing out your mouth and glass between tastes — you wouldn’t want your palate confusing one wine with another, would you? After you’ve tasted all six wines, you’re entitled to a full-pour of your favorite of the bunch.
The wines we had were:
- 2016 Vintner’s White; 66% Chardonnay, 17% Vidal Blanc, and 17% Traminette
- 2015 Tanyard
- 2016 Chesapeake Rosé; 100% Barbera
- 2014 Vintner’s Red
- 2016 Chardonnay
- 2014 Powatinika; Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Grenache, Petit Verdot, and Mouvedre (everything but the kitchen sink?)
When we finished the tasting, we had to decide which wines we wanted for full-pours. Cindy decided on the Vintner’s White and I chose the Vintner’s Red. We also bought two bottles of each, which qualified us for their entry-level wine club.
There’s no membership fee for their wine clubs, of which there are three variants. As a member, you have to guarantee to buy four, six, or 12 bottles per quarter, for a year. You get a 20% discount on bottle purchases, plus free tastings. For the 16-bottle annual membership — we selected a mix of dry wines — you get:
- Free wine tastings
- Access to their picnic area
- 20% discounts on wine and event prices
- Annual free charcuterie and wine tasting for two people
- Four passes for 50% discounts on tastings to share with others
- Ability to rent the facility for private parties
- members-only event invitations
- Early access to new releases
They estimate our cost will be about $125-$150 per quarter for our four bottles. You can find out more about their other wine clubs on their website.
Great Frogs Winery video
You might like to see a video about the winery on YouTube: https://youtu.be/ZEwYaDwAzeM. The running time is two minutes, 20 seconds. It offers an interview with Great Frogs’ Winemaker & Partner Andrea O’Shea (the other partner is her husband, Nathanael). You’ll see her testing the sugar-level in Chardonnay grapes and talking about the winery. ♦