Local wineries will release new holiday spirits this weekend — and you can be the first to try them.
For $20, guests are invited to taste wine samples from 17 Pennsylvania and Maryland wineries along the Mason-Dixon Wine Trail at the seventh annual Wine Just Off The Vine Nov. 14-15 and 21-22.
Tickets include a souvenir wine glass, refreshments, an educational experience at each location and 10 percent off beverage purchases.
To celebrate its return to the trail after two years, Adams County Winery special projects manager Katie Martin said it will offer an interactive demonstration, where guests can do their own blending trials. They’ll start with a base wine and add spices and sugar to their liking.
“It should be fun,” Martin said. “They’re getting to play little chemists.”
Guests at Thunder Ridge, which opened in March, will have the chance to learn how Thunder Ridge wines are made and see where the magic happens, from harvesting and processing to fermentation, aging and bottling. After the presentation, they'll enjoy tastings straight out of the tanks, winemaker and co-owner Jeff Gormley said.
But these two wineries aren't the only ones worth traveling to, York County Convention & Visitors Bureau marketing director Louise Heine said. This year, Wine Just Off The Vine is challenging guests to visit all 17 wineries with its new scavenger hunt.
“We thought we could try to come up with something that would be engaging and people could have a little bit of fun with,” Heine said.
Guests will pick up scavenger hunt sheets at their first stop and search for wine labels at each location on the trail. Those who find all of the labels and match them with the correct location will be eligible for a chance to win a small prize, which could include gift cards or wine items, she said.
While you're traveling around to each winery, here are several new releases and holiday wines to look out for.
New release: Caroling Cabernet
Wine trail guests will be the first to purchase Adams County Winery’s limited edition Christmas wine, Caroling Cabernet. The wine, which will celebrate its official release on Saturday, Nov. 14, is a sweet cabernet sauvignon infused with cranberry, Martin said.
>> More holiday wine: Adams County Winery’s Thanksgiving Scrapple will also be available to guests on the tour. The sweetly-spiced cranberry apple wine, released Oct. 31, pairs well with turkey, ham and pork, Martin said.
New release: Seyval
This semi-sweet blush wine, which Gormley described as a Christmas wine, will be released for Wine Just Off The Vine guests Saturday, Nov. 14.
>>More holiday wine: The Wine Just Off The Vine Tour will also feature the recently released Orchard and Vine wine. It’s a blend of Vidal and apple wine that produces a crisp apple flavor with grape characteristics. Gormley said he plans to teach tour guests a recipe for serving the wine warm for Christmas.
New release: Nouveau
Nouveau, the first red wine produced from Naylor’s harvest, will be released just a day or two before Wine Just Off The Vine. Winemaker Ted Potter calls it Naylor’s Thanksgiving wine because it pairs well with heavier dark or white meat. It has a blackberry taste with overtones of cherry, he said.
New release: Naughty
Nov. 14 marks the return of one of the Vineyard and Brewery at Hershey’s most popular holiday wines. The Naughty, released for the first time last year, is a dry red blend with notes of clove, tobacco and leather, Vineyard and Brewery partner Michael “Merlot Mike” Wilson said. The wine is good right out of the bottle or heated up in the crockpot.
>>Also new: The Vineyard will also release its multi-award-winning Blackberry Portrait for Wine Just Off The Vine. The Blackberry Portrait, which takes about a year to make, is a port wine made 100 percent of blackberries, aged extensively in oak and fortified with brandy. This wine pairs well with cheesecake, Wilson said.
New release: Ripken Family Wine Collection
Fiore Winery’s new Ripken Family Wine Collection would make a perfect Christmas gift for wine-loving Orioles fans. The collection, released in late October, includes three wines selected by the Ripken family: a personal vintage of Chambourcin for Cal Ripken Jr., a unique blend of 70 percent Sangiovese and 30 percent merlot, and a Chardonnay for Cal Ripken Sr. These wines will not be available for tastings on the tour, but they will be available for purchase both weekends.
Locations on the trail:
Adams County Winery (251 Peach Tree Road, Orrtanna)
Boordy Vineyards (12820 Long Green Pike, Hydes, Md.)
DeJon Vineyard (5300 Hydes Road, Hydes, Md.)
Fiore Winery (3026 Whiteford Road, Pylesville, Md.)
Four Springs Winery (50 Main St., Seven Valleys)
Harford Vineyard & Winery (1311 W. Jarretsville Road, Forest Hill, Md.)
Hauser Estate Winery (410 Cashtown Road, Biglerville)
High Rock Winery (7982 High Rock Road West, Hanover)
Logan’s View Winery (4830 Hildebrand Road, Glen Rock)
Moon Dancer Winery & Cider House (1282 Klines Run Road, Wrightsville)
Mount Hope Winery (2775 Lebanon Road, Manheim)
Naylor Wine Cellars (4069 Vineyard Road, Stewartstown)
Old Republic Distillery (47 Cherry St., Seven Valleys)
Reid’s Orchard & Winery (2135 Buchanan Valley Road, Orrtanna)
Royal Rabbit Vineyards (1090 Jordan Sawmill Road, Parkton, Md.)
The Vineyard and Brewery at Hershey (598 Schoolhouse Road, Middletown)
Thunder Ridge Vineyards (932 Hill Top Drive South, Spring Grove)
If you go:
What: Wine Just Off The Vine
When: Noon to 5 p.m. Nov. 14-15 and 21-22
Where: 17 participating location along the Mason-Dixon Wine Trail
Cost: Tickets are $20 and are available at participating locations or online at www.MasonDixonWineTrail.com through Nov.22.
More information: Visit www.masondixonwinetrail.com.