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July 26, 2021

New all-in-one tasting center to promote Maine’s food and drink

bar Courtesy / Maine Tasting Center The new Maine Tasting Center in Wiscasset opened a few weeks ago. Features include a brew-pub with indoor and outdoor seating.

The Maine Tasting Center in Wiscasset isn't like most such sampling spots. The center, which is now launching, is a one-stop shop for experiencing — and learning about — Maine food and drink.

The center's tasting room opened a few weeks ago, and is one of three experiences the center plans to provide. An education center is slated to open next month.

The Tasting Room, a brew-pub style space with indoor and outdoor seating, serves up Maine-made beverages, including beer, wine, cider and kombucha, and small plates that feature Maine-grown ingredients, like local charcuterie and smoked-fish boards. Open daily, it houses a small retail shop and hosts events including live music and brewer-led tastings.

exterior with sign
Courtesy / Maine Tasting Center
SB Signs of Brunswick was onsite recently to installed new Maine Tasting Center signage.

The Learning Center, which will open the first week of August, is a classroom building equipped with a demonstration kitchen that will host guided tastings, demonstrations and workshops taught by experts from Maine’s food and drink community.

Its first event, kicking off Maine's Wild Blueberry Weekend on Aug. 7-8, will be a class on Maine wild blueberries, led by Catherine Broihier, a nutrition advisor for the Wild Blueberry Association of North America.

Group classes and specialty classes, like one about wild blueberry wine with Bluet winemaker Michael Terrien will also be available, along with group tour options.

Courtesy / Maine Tasting Center
This educational site is scheduled to open next month at the Maine Tasting Center in Wiscasset.


The U.S. Route 1 site, previously occupied by Judi’s Country Store and Maine Heritage Village, was purchased in early 2020 by the Gross family, who were looking for a space for an agritourism-centered family business.

“Honestly, the impetus for it was to find something to do with my parents, who are both retired, so I could move back to Maine to be near them,” said Sara Gross, who moved home from Michigan, where she was working at the Michigan History Center.

“Originally, the plan was a craft beer focus, but when we were looking at the property, something sort of clicked and we saw we could offer a much wider variety of all Maine food and drink,” she said. Her family members are foodies, she added, and they've long participated in visited local producers while on vacation.

“We were interested in being part of that scene in Maine, as a way of directing traffic to all the great local Maine producers.”

Since purchasing, the family has worked to transform the site over the last eight months. Construction focused on removal of three of the site’s buildings and renovation of the remaining three for center use.

Exhibit hall

The Center’s third building will be a 2,500-square-foot exhibit hall showcasing Maine products and the organizations that represent them, including the Maine Brewers’ Guild, the Maine Cheese Guild, Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative, Maine Maple Producers Association, Maine Seaweed Council, the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, who have been advising the Gross’s on their educational content.

The Gross family, in partnering with these agencies, formed the Alliance of Maine Food Producers, an informal group that will co-curate the Discovery Center’s interactive exhibits, which they hope to open next year, pending grant funding and renovation efforts.

The Tasting Center also houses the Wiscasset Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays and plans to offer ticketed classes throughout the summer.

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