Since the festival started, I’ve attended every year, save one. Personally, I believe it’s our area’s most significant annual wine event and, for fans of the grape, not to be missed.
To get some background on this year’s festival, I spoke with Colleen Jones, expo manager for Journal Multimedia, which is organizing the event on behalf of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.
For years, the festival was held at the Giant Center in Hershey. While the venue had plenty of room, it was more of an atmosphere of a sporting event than a presentation of a beverage that people write poetry about.
It next was held at the Antique Automobile Club of America Museum, which, in my opinion, was cozy and had an interesting vibe. However, I felt it was too cramped for the thirsty crowd.
Colleen told me that, at a planning meeting at the PLCB offices, someone looked out the window across the street to the State Museum of Pennsylvania and wondered about its suitability. After inquiries, the decision was made to have it in this masterpiece of mid-century modern architecture, which, this year, celebrates its golden anniversary.
The festival will be three-tiered this year. The VIP Tasting will start at 5 p.m. and will feature more than 50 wines that are not available to other tasters, such as several super Tuscans, vintage ports and some of the best wines that California has to offer. The Grand Tasting will follow at 6:30 p.m., featuring the variety and quality that attract wine-lovers each year.
This year, for the first time, the Chairman’s Select Seminar will be hosted by the chairman himself, Steve Pollack. The seminar will give folks an opportunity to taste wines that will emerge in stores in a few weeks. Tickets must be bought in advance, and the seminar starts at 5:30 p.m. in the Allegheny Room.
Colleen and I also discussed the food for the festival, as wine and food are natural mates. Honestly, I was a little concerned about who would cater the event. This may sound trite, but long-time festival-goers may remember the switch from the original festival site at the Harrisburg Hilton to the Giant Center. So, I was very glad to hear that the Hilton once again is on board, with the hors d’oeuvres coming from the kitchen of the newly opened Ad Lib Craft Kitchen & Bar.
There is another aspect to this grand event, the on-site silent auction to raise money for the Patient and Family Centered Care program at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. Colleen pointed out that many families arrive at the hospital totally unprepared for an extended stay. So, a portion of every festival ticket sold will go towards benefitting these people in their hour of need.
I hope to see you at the festival. If you spy my nametag, stop by, and we’ll share some wonderful wines.
Keep sipping, Steve.
The Harrisburg Wine Festival takes place May 8 at the State Museum of Pennsylvania, 300 North St., Harrisburg. Tickets start at $75 per person. There will be free parking at the South Street garage, 220 South St., a short walk to the museum. For more information, visit www.harrisburgwinefest.com.