The Vineyard at Hershey finds several gridiron partners to line up withThe owners of a fledgling winery in Londonderry Township are leading the charge on a new Central Pennsylvania wine trail program launching tomorrow.
Supported this year by a $32,320 hotel tax grant from the Dauphin County commissioners, the Hershey Harrisburg Wine Country program includes 12 wineries spanning five counties, said Jason Reimer, a Harrisburg attorney and partner at The Vineyard at Hershey.
Reimer and his partner Doug Gellatly, owner of Greenlin Kennel Pet Resort, opened the Dauphin County winery in February. The idea for the new program, aimed at promoting local agriculture and boosting tourism, came about in the fall, Reimer said.
Unlike other wine trails across the state and the region that are more event-focused, the Hershey Harrisburg Wine Country will take more of a destination approach, he said. The model was designed to serve as a supplementary activity to the area’s popular attractions and conventions, Reimer said.
The wine country program is partnering with area hotels, transportation companies and restaurants, Reimer said.
Each of the wineries is within a 45-minute drive of the center of Harrisburg or Hershey.
The promotional dollars from the county will be used in tandem with the Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau’s “Just 88 Smiles Away” campaign, a push to lure people from the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., region.
The bureau estimates the region attracts about 10 million people every year.
“It’s providing people with a reason to stay in town, too,” Reimer said, citing an explosion in wineries across the region and the state in recent years.
There were less than 50 wineries in Pennsylvania 20 years ago, he said. Today there are more than 150. Reimer serves on the board of directors for the Pennsylvania Winery Association in Harrisburg.
“Collectively, we’re working to lift the (wine) market,” he said.
Ticket sales from signature wine country events are expected to sustain future product promotion, he said. The program also plans to work with the bureau to develop travel packages, he said.