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The Urban Winery
Kathy Sullivan

The Urban WinerySummary: The Urban Winery, a boutique urban winery, is one of the closest wineries to the center of Washington, DC. The location appears ideal for an urban winery. Located in Silver Spring, Maryland the winery offers a relaxing spot to taste a variety of wines and enjoy small food plates. In addition to The Urban Winery’s own wines, the owners also feature Maryland and Eastern European wines, beer and cider.

For the owners of The Urban Winery, Damon and Georgia Callis, the goal of The Urban Winery is “to share the mystery and fascination of wine.” The Urban Winery offers wine education with classes on Tuesday evenings. Businesses are encouraged to participate in a custom crush. For the Callis family, The Urban Winery is a labor of love.

While there is plenty of parking in the area, The Urban Winery, is located in a densely packed area of Silver Spring, Maryland. Parking is available on the street and in nearby parking lots.

The Urban WineryWe met the friendly couple, Damon and Georgia, in The Urban Winery tasting room and were quickly escorted to a small barrel room with a wall of glass offering views of the tasting room. We soon discovered that this hardworking couple has a young family and formed an intense interest in winemaking at an early age. Georgia, a first generation Greek, easily recalls stomping grapes at the age of five, for her father who was a home winemaker. Today Georgia is the primary winemaker assisted by Damon. Damon learned his winemaking skills from Georgia and her father Anthony. Today their young children like to stomp grapes. For a time, Georgia lost some interest in winemaking but her interest returned while she was in college. With former careers in nursing and financial planning, the couple is focused on The Urban Winery and their family.

Today Damon and Georgia are producing 1,350 cases of wine and would like the winery to grow to 5,000 cases. One of the special wines they produce is the Bole Zinfandel. This wine is a limited production with only 50 cases produced. Proceeds from the Bole Zinfandel benefit the Alzheimer’s Association.

The Urban WineryThe Urban Winery building, located on Bonifant Street, has been completely renovated by Damon. The door to the building was moved to an adjacent side, old painted brickwork was sand blasted, the glass wall of the barrel room was added and much more. Damon and Georgia discovered 138-year-old brick in Baltimore and added it to a wall in the barrel room. All of this work took 11 months to complete. All furniture in the tasting room was crafted by Damon. A man of many talents, Damon believes in hard work and hopes to instill the hard work philosophy in his children.

Damon noted that “We come from the amateur rank. We were taught by tradition.” Today Damon and Georgia also experiment producing wines from some of the fruit trees at their home.

During our interview with Damon and Georgia, Damon noted that he is focused on Maryland wineries. The tasting room also offers wines from Europe, especially Eastern Europe.

Damon said, “Enjoy the journey not just the destination.” Winemaking is a life-style change. They talked about how they are “coming from what they know and making it better every time.”

In addition to producing wines for the winery, The Urban Winery also has consumers who do a custom crush. They encourage area businesses to contact them about planning a custom crush at The Urban Winery.

Small Plates

The Urban Winery offers consumers a wide assortment of small plates to enjoy with their wines. Small plates include: avocado toast, Dolmades (handmade stuffed grape leaves,) seafood platter, mezza plate, Greek meatballs, sandwiches, charcuterie and cheese.

The Urban WineryWine Tasting

We tasted two wines from barrels and the bottled Love of Honor 2014. The first wine from barrel was Nebbiolo 2015 produced with grapes sourced from California. The wine was a dark, opaque, ruby color. The aroma and taste were of black fruits including black cherries and blackberries. The taste was smooth. The wine had mild tannins and was full-bodied. The finish was fruity with a bit of heat. Also from a barrel, the Barbera 2015 was a dark, opaque, ruby color. Grapes for this wine were also sourced from California. The wine offered berry fruity notes like a fruit salad of dark fruits. It also had mild tannins and was full-bodied.

Philotimo Love of Honor 2014 was a blend of Zinfandel and Syrah. The wine was an opaque ruby color. The aroma offered smoke and dark fruit notes. The taste was of blackberries, plums, leather and smoke. The wine had mild tannins and the finish offered fruit and spice notes.

The Urban WineryBefore we left Damon said, “Wine has deep roots, like the vine.”

Enjoy a visit and tasting at The Urban Winery in Silver Spring. Both foot traffic and wine enthusiasts who drive to the winery can enjoy the very friendly ambiance. This is a winery to watch develop over the years. Those interested in a gentle wine education can visit the winery on Tuesday evenings at 7:00 pm. where the complexities of wine are simplified. The class includes wine tastings and light fare.

The Urban Winery
949 Bonifant Street
Silver Spring, MD 20910


Article written February 2016

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