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Eat, Drink and Be Merry at Area Wine Festivals

Jun 01, 2017 02:26PM ● Published by Beth Gavaghan

Guests enjoying the 2016 Summer Wine Walk in Harmony, Photo by Josh Meeder

Gallery: Area Wine Festivals [9 Images] Click any image to expand.

It’s been said that life is too short to drink bad wine. Fortunately for area wine enthusiasts, quite a few opportunities exist to sample excellent vintages at upcoming events. Among them are Wine Time at the Colony in Saxonburg, the Summer Wine Walk in Harmony and the Beaver Wine Festival.

When Penn’s Colony on Saxonburg Boulevard hosted its first Wine Time at the Colony in September 2012, the event featured six wineries and 60-mile-an-hour winds, said Beth Rush, co-organizer. Still, the event was so successful that the Colony has been hosting two wine events—in June and September—ever since.

“Five years ago, there weren’t that many wine festivals and there weren’t that many wineries,” Rush said. That’s changed, as local wine events have increased and so too have the number of local wineries.

Wine Time will be held from 1-6 p.m. on June 17 and September 9 of this year. This month’s event will feature 16 wineries offering a combined 160 vintages and more than 25 artisans and food vendors. Entertainment will be provided by Jimmy Sapienza’s Five Guys Named Moe. Tickets are $25 for unlimited tastings and a souvenir wine glass and $10 for designated drivers.

“People come to Wine Time at the Colony because of the selection, and we let people bring their own food. A lot of groups and families with adult children attend,” Rush said.

What sets Wine Time apart from similar festivals is that its wine vendors are not just from Pennsylvania. “I’m really pleased that we have one of the oldest wineries from New York state, Johnson Estate Winery, and Knob Hall Winery from Maryland at our event,” Rush said. 

“I am careful with vendor selection so that our event is something special. We try to feature a balance of wineries that have their own vineyards in different growing regions,” she added. Between the two wine festivals, about 2,100 people typically attend.

“We keep the crowd growth to a steady number. We want visitors to return because they had a good experience with knowledgeable vendors,” Rush said. “I enjoy the customers’ reactions–people who say they are coming back next year and bringing friends.”

For more information, visit www.winetimeatthecolony.com.

Now in its third year, the Summer Wine Walk in Harmony is unique in that the tastings are held mostly inside shops and restaurants.

“Visitors really get to know the shops of Harmony and what Harmony has to offer,” said Susie Altemus, event organizer. Established in 1804, Harmony is a historic landmark known for its German heritage, with quaint brick and log buildings that house a variety of specialty shops.  

Previously held on Friday, the Summer Wine Walk was moved this year to a Saturday, June 17, to give patrons more opportunity to experience the area. Tastings will be held from 4-8 p.m., with check-in from 2-5:30 p.m. at the Opera Hall on Mercer Street.

“We encourage people to come early to spend extra time visiting the shops. Many are offering discounts,” Altemus said.

Tickets are $25 and include a wine glass, wristband and map. There is no fee for non-tasting attendees. Registration caps at 550 people, and in the past has always sold out. All proceeds benefit the Zelienople Area Public Library.

“The Zelienople Library provides a valuable resource to residents of Harmony, and we’re proud to support it,” said MJ McCurdy, who owns Bottlebrush Gallery with her husband, Dennis. “By serving as a host business for the Wine Walk, the Bottlebrush Gallery does what it does best–brings people together to meet, talk and enjoy each other in an art and music-filled environment.”

Altemus said that that the Summer Wine Walk raised $11,000 last year, adding that the event supports Pennsylvania businesses since all the wine vendors are from within the state. About 11 wineries, distilleries and breweries are participating, including Fractured Grape, PK Winery and Courtyard Winery. Food will be available at established restaurants such as the Harmony Inn as well as from several food trucks.

For more information, visit www.eventbrite.com/e/2017-harmony-summer-wine-walk-registration-32793049895.

The Beaver Wine Festival on Saturday, September 16, will provide attendees with the opportunity to relax, connect with old friends, support local businesses and taste hundreds of wines from some of Pennsylvania’s best wineries. 

Mike Cirelli, festival chairperson and owner of Cirelli’s Fine Jewelry, said three business district streets will be closed to traffic to make room for tents to house wine vendors. Additionally, three areas will be set up for a variety of live music. Local stores will offer giveaways, activities and discounts.

“It’s just a very mellow event,” Cirelli said. “People come just as much for the social activity as for the wine. They can relax and see people they haven’t seen in years.”

Now in its third year, the wine festival is sponsored by and benefits the Beaver Area Chamber of Commerce. It will be held from 2-7 p.m., with registration starting at 1 p.m. on 3rd Street across from the gazebo at Quay Park. Tickets are $25 each in advance with day-of-event tickets at $30, if available. All attendees will receive a souvenir wine glass, wristband, wine tote and a wine tasting notebook.

The Beaver event is unique in that it offers a wine pickup service. “It is operated like a coat check,” Cirelli said. “We put a ticket on purchases and bring them to a tent. When the buyers are ready to leave, they can drive up and load their purchases into their vehicles.”

Cirelli said he expects this year’s wine festival to feature 14 wineries, including Deer Creek Winery, Greenhouse Winery and La Vigneta Winery. “We’ll have a couple of food trucks and there are 11 food merchants people can choose from,” he said. About 2,000 people are expected.

For more information, visit www.beaverwinefestival.com.

Can’t make any of these wine events? 

No worries. The following are some others worth a visit:
Wine & Garden Tour 
June 2 at Allegheny West, North Side
www.alleghenywest.org/tour/a-tour-tasting-in-old-allegheny

First Choice Wine Festival to benefit Syria Shriners, 
June 10 at the Syria Shrine, Cheswick
www.syriashriners.org/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/2017WineForm.pdf

Wine to Remember to benefit Alzheimer’s Association, 
June 13 at Las Casa Narcisi Winery in Gibsonia
act.alz.org/site/Calendar?id=124308&view=Detail

Wine & Jazz at the Lake 
June 24 at Hopewell Community Park, Aliquippa
www.eventbrite.com/e/2017-wine-jazz-at-the-lake-tickets-32295575937

The Fifth Annual Janoski Farms Harvest Wine Festival, July 15 at Janoski’s Farm and Greenhouse, Clinton, PA
www.janoskis.com/wine-festival.html

The Wine Opener to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, September 14 at Pittsburgh’s 
Grand Hall at the Priory
https://pghwineopener.eventscff.org

Sewickley Wine Walk, presented by the Sewickley Valley Chamber of Commerce, November 1
www.sewickleywinewalk.com
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