Fager’s Island: A Wine Lover’s Paradise in Nearby Ocean City

They say that no man is an island unto himself. But, John Fager, owner of Fager’s Island Restaurant in Ocean City, Maryland, stands uniquely apart when it comes to offering some of the world’s greatest wines at incredibly reasonable prices. And this “Island Wine Oasis” is just a hop, skip and a jump down Coastal Highway from the Delaware line and certainly worth the short ride.

I vividly recall one of my first visits to Fager’s Island back in the mid-1980s when I was already on my own wine journey and had heard that Fager’s had a “good” wine list. So, my wife and I paid them a visit, and, to my delight, I was blown away by page after page of topflight, ready to drink vintages of Bordeaux, Burgundy and many other wines from around the globe, all at remarkable prices. We settled back, each ordered a hamburger, and paired it with an outstanding Bordeaux (we saved on the meal to put what was in our meager budget at the time toward the wine). 

Fast forward to 2024 and Fager’s Island is still obsessed with providing guests with a global array of fine wines at amazingly fair prices. I once asked Fager why was it that he offered his incredible lineup of mature, ready to drink classic wines at such reasonable prices and his answer said a lot. He did not want to be “a wine museum.” In other words, price wine so that it will move rather than sit. 

Fager’s Island is still obsessed withproviding guests with a global array of
fine wines at amazingly fair prices.

The wine list runs the gamut of fine wines from the greatest wine growing regions of the world. But you can tell from the list that John Fager’s true soft spot is for the great wines of Bordeaux and Burgundy. Notably, even Fager’s “everyday” by the glass wine list is a thoughtful array of good value wines, as is the impressive list of half bottles, assembled by Fager’s talented, longtime sommelier, Robin. Try their house labeled wines such as their Merlot or sparkling wine for truly exceptional values that Fager’s somehow has unearthed from great producers in France. While my focus is wine, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Fager’s world class list of spirits put together by Travis, their bar manager extraordinaire, boasting over 90 bourbons (including a full array of coveted and hard to get Pappy Van Wickle), over 90 whiskies, and 70+ Tequilas and rums from 20 different countries!

Having said all this, what good is fine wine (and spirits) if you don’t have great food to match (notwithstanding my own budgetary driven hamburger order in the 80s). I have come to know Chef Jim, their culinary wizard, and he has a true passion for delivering consistently fabulous, fresh, regionally driven fare. Pair all this with spectacular views of the bay and you have a truly special dining experience. Sunsets there are remarkable, and they are enhanced by the playing of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture …a tradition that’s been around since the time I enjoyed my first hamburger and Bordeaux. 

Ray Kurz, also known as “Cuvée Ray,” holds certifications including Sommelier, Certified Specialist of Wine, and is completing his WSET Diploma. He’s the creator of Vintunes® and previously owned Cuvée Ray Wine Bar and Restaurant. Ray’s passion lies in connecting wine with wine lovers.


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