It was a long Saturday but a satisfying one for Jason Reimer, L. Paul Vezzetti and the rest of The Vineyard at Hershey.
Reimer said by phone that what will become an annual event drew 1,027 people to the Londonderry Township winery on Saturday for wine, a pig roast, music, helicopter rides and a bonfire. Of the 1,050 bottles of merlot released, the winery through pre-sales and sales Saturday sent away more than 700 bottles.
Each sells for $19.99. Once the remaining 300 or so bottles sell, no additional merlot will be available until Sept. 14, 2013, the date of the second annual release party. Reimer said they sold 78 advance tickets for next year’s party “and that’s before we even took delivery of the merlot grapes this year.”
Reimer said that the winery is planning to run a concert and comedy series on Friday nights through next summer, beginning Memorial Day weekend and then ending with the merlot release party.

Meanwhile, executive director Kevin Atticks of the Association of Maryland Wineries said that the Maryland Wine Festival drew around 16,000 visitors this past weekend in Westminster. That’s 3,000 above last year’s totals. Atticks said he’d have to do some digging to see whether that’s a record.11580348-large