In the Spotlight - Black Bear Wine & Words

Last Updated on Jun 2, 2015 at 4:40pm | Tourism & Recreation

"In The Spotlight!" is a regular feature of The Lake-Front magazine and is being reprinted here in its entirety with permission. This article originally appeared in the June 2015 issue.
Many of us have long known the pleasure of relaxing in our favorite coffee shop catching up on work or just people watching. Barry and Laura Clapsaddle have taken this same concept and applied it to their two great passions - wine and reading. The result? Black Bear Wine & Words, where you can enjoy wines by the glass or bottle in their beautiful and cozy tasting room or purchase a bottle (or case) to enjoy at home.
Black Bear Wine & Words is located in The Fort in McHenry, below Black Bear Tavern and next to Lake Salon, both also owned by the Clapsaddles. Long time lake visitors and locals may remember this space as the former Deep Creek Gourmet. When the owner had to move from the area, Laura and Barry saw it as a perfect location to create a space they had always dreamed of…with a twist! Because not only can you enjoy delicious wines, Black Bear Wine & Words also offers a unique selection of gently used books to peruse while you enjoy your wine or to purchase to take home. At just $3 for hardcovers and $1 for paperbacks, book lovers will find an inexpensive way to indulge their passion. From classics to best sellers to kid’s favorites, you’re sure to find it here. Many have been donated and says Laura, “If there is a book you’re looking to purchase, check with us…we may have it!” And if you’re looking to clean off your bookshelves, Laura will give you one free book for every five you donate!
While choosing a book can be easy (although Laura and Store Manager Patty Rogers, both avid readers, are always ready with a recommendation), many may not be sure of the wine they would like to enjoy. No worries…Black Bear Wine & Words also offers free daily tastings (up to 3 per person) to tempt your palate and give you a great way to try before you buy! They also plan to offer specialty craft beers, also available for tastings (and purchase) later this summer.
Currently, Black Bear Wine & Words offers affordable fine wines comprising 26 varietals from over 50 vineyards. Although the shop may have a smaller selection of wines than commercial wine shops, each wine offered was specifically chosen and tasted by Barry and Laura who worked with Country Vintners for the best selection.
All wines are moderately priced (starting at $11.98) with most in the $15 to $20 range or can be purchased by the glass for $7 each. You’ll find sparkling reds and whites, Pinot Grigios, Sauvignon Blancs, Chardonnays, Rieslings, Malbecs, Merlots, Cabernet Sauvignons, and many more...something to tempt all taste buds.
“We wanted to keep the shop very simple,” explains Laura. “We’ve tasted and hand selected all the wines available. We didn’t want to overwhelm people with too many choices…our goal was to keep it homey, comfortable, and simple - an affordable place to sit and visit with friends, read a good book, or work on your computer.”
The space is very calm with comfortable seating, a few bar top tables, and even limited outside seating. Be sure to check out the handmade tasting table, made by a friend of the Clapsaddles to their exact specifications. The beautiful hardwood is a perfect backdrop to the fine wines it holds.
The shop has only been open a few months, but Patty and the Clapsaddles are thrilled with the response they’ve had from their customers and are listening to their comments. Because of this customer feedback, they are now offering wine gift baskets and plan to put in a fireplace this fall.
Of course, the perfect pairing with wine is cheese, and Black Bear Wine & Words offers a wonderful chees tray available for sale that offers a variety of cheeses, fruits, and nuts…perfect to share while you enjoy a bottle of wine. They are also looking at some Italian meats and cheeses to add for an “Italian Cheese Plate” coming soon.
Black Bear Wine & Words is also a perfect place for small get togethers and has already been utilized for a private “Thirst for Art” painting party and is a regular stop on the Touch Of Class Wine Limousine Tour on select Saturdays. “I also see this space as a perfect place for book club meetings, bachelorette parties, girls or guys night out, or even a Wine Tasting Bridal Shower,” says Laura. Many of her clients from Lake Salon next door often wander over between spa treatments for a glass of wine and time to catch up with friends. Because it is part of the Black Bear family, Laura or Patty can work with your individual needs and even have food catered from upstairs to accommodate your group.
If you’re looking for a fine wine and a good book, look no further than Black Bear Wine & Words. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 AM to 7 PM and Sunday from 1 to 6 PM, they can also accommodate private parties by advance reservation.
For more information, give them a call at (301) 387-7955 or visit them online at You can also “Like” them on Facebook to keep up with the latest news.
Says Barry, “Come in and ‘have a splash’ and immerse yourself in a classic, or even some pulp fiction…because there is absolutely no substitute for good wine, or a good book, for that matter.”