Maryland winery gets in the spirit

When it comes to alcoholic beverages, Maryland is best known for beer.

True, a chunk of Kentucky's bourbon is shipped to facilities in Maryland for bottling, but beer and a bit of winemaking covers what is produced in the Free State. Until now.

Fiore Winery in Pylesville, Harford County, plans to make grappa and limoncello as well as a spirits-fortified wine.

After two decades of making a name for himself producing wine, owner Michael Fiore told the Baltimore Sun he sees a distillery as a way to expose Maryland wine aficionados to uncommon types of beverages.

"I want to do some new things to bring a little bit of Italy to Maryland," said Fiore, 63.

Fiore told the Sun he is employing a $12,000 copper still for small-scale testing before purchasing a larger system that would cost about $100,000, he said. He makes about 40,000 gallons, or 200,000 bottles, of wine per year, using grapes that he grows in his 13.5-acre vineyard.

Fiore said he plans to distill grappa, the brandy made from wine byproducts; limoncello, a lemon liqueur made from grappa and organic lemon peels, and port wine, a mix of wine and grappa. The grappa and port will cost about $30 a bottle, the limoncello slightly more.

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