Covid changed many things for many people, and many of us are dealing with what is now called the “new normal.”  As often happens when we go through times of upheaval, however, it can turn out to be a good thing…and that’s the way Maryellen Miller, owner of The Wine Cellar at Deep Creek sees it. If you are a wine lover and familiar with our area, you probably already have met Maryellen, one of the area’s pre-eminent experts on wine.

Maryellen’s shop is not new to our area, she has been doing business as Fireside Deli and Wine Shoppe since 2004, which has become a very popular destination for wine aficionados. When Covid and quarantine came, her one-person business was on the brink of closure. With her long history in sales, retail and hospitality she began thinking about what would be best for her customers and her business so instead of opening set hours each week, she made herself available to open at her customer’s convenience for private, one on one shopping experiences.

“This is really what I wanted to do with this business from the beginning,” explains Maryellen. “I love sales and I love wine and I get my greatest pleasure in helping somebody find the perfect wine for their taste and budget.”

She adds, “Right now there are a lot of new and different venues similar to what I had done in the past. What made my shop unique was personal attention and the kitchen took me away from that. Even though I sold a small amount of food, it kept me away from my customers. Now I can be available full time to do what I love best.”

She has re-opened The Wine Cellar for business on Fridays and Saturdays from Noon to 4 PM but is available for private appointments. “Now people can buy wine anytime. Just give me a text or a call. Instead of limited hours, now I can be more flexible and available.

The new schedule has also opened her up to do specialized catering and private events. She has hosted several rehearsal dinners and private parties. One of her most popular features has always been her private dinners available for groups of eight or more. She can customize a meal based on your group’s tastes with food and wines they like at a budget they are comfortable with. “Some people like to choose a country and I prepare food and choose wines from that region. It often gives customers a chance to try wines they would not be able to get anywhere else. It also gives them an opportunity to learn about the wine they are drinking and why it goes well with the food I have prepared,” she adds.

The new name reflects her new business mission and the fact that her shop is no longer a deli but now focused primarily on wine. Maryellen only chooses wines that are 2000 case production or less. She has always felt that the best wines come from small producers, and she is always on the lookout for new and delicious wines to try.

A world traveler herself, Maryellen has visited with owners and wine makers to see first-hand their individual methods for producing wine. Having one of the finest wine collections in the area does not mean higher prices, customers are often surprised by the budget friendly offerings she stocks.

The Wine Cellar will continue their most popular offering with wine tastings every Saturday from Noon to 4 PM where you can try different wines and hopefully discover something new.

Maryellen is also offering Wine Appreciation Classes every Wednesday from 4 – 6 PM through fall. Each class is different so participants can take a single class or do the entire series. During class, you will learn about wine with trivia and questions and of course, tastings. “It’s like an educational Happy Hour, you’ll drink while you learn. What could be more fun?” says Maryellen. Pre-registration is required, and cost is $50 per class.

Another new service she is offering are private group tastings. These sessions help take the inhibitions away from buying wine. Maryellen will take the time to teach the group about wines, learn about their palettes, and find the perfect wine just for them. “It’s kind of like when you go to a winery and get to sit down with the winemaker and learn about their wines. I know the wines I sell and these tastings can make for a fun little afternoon or evening. A three-day notice is requested and cost is $30 per person.

Of course, wine needs the perfect accompaniment and to that end, The Wine Cellar will offer a line of “grab and go” gourmet foods, all from small businesses across the USA. The Wine Cellar carries a full line of D’ARTAGNAN pâté, mousse, truffle oil and truffle butter, and some cool meats for picnicking on your boat, deck, or favorite trail. She also sells everything from pretzels, crackers, nuts & chocolate, all designed to tempt your palate and make the perfect accompaniment for your wine.

She has also kept her line of imported cheeses from around the world including the popular Gloucester cheese with Chives, Truffle Cheese, and Irish Cheese infused with Guinness Stout. The Wine Cellar also offers a delicious assortment of champagnes, prosecco, and sparkling wines for special occasions as well as a nice selection of Microbrews. If you’re looking for a unique gift, ask Maryellen about her customized wine baskets. You can select the wines and accompaniments or have Maryellen put it together for you.

The Wine Cellar is located at 2205 Glendale Road, two miles past Deep Creek State Park. Call or text Maryellen at 301-859-8514 to make your personalized appointment or schedule your next great wine outing. Says Maryellen, “I still get excited when I find a new wine to share with my customers. Wine is meant to enhance food; it’s meant to enhance life in general. Americans are just beginning to understand what Europeans have known for centuries.”

Written by Linda Carr