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What's new at Adams County Winery in 2016

The staff at Adams County Winery often hears the same question from customers.

"We're out in the middle of nowhere," said Retail Manager Dan Baumgardner. "People just call all the time and say, 'Hey, do you serve food? Do you serve food?'"

Located in Franklin Township, the winery offers some light fare, but there aren't many restaurants in close proximity, aside from a pizza shop and Hickory Bridge Farm, Baumgardner said.

But for the winery staff, 2016 means new year, new food.

An expanded food menu and upgraded wine-tasting options are in store at Adams County Winery in 2016. It's an effort to meet customers' needs and keep the experience at the decades-old winery from feeling stale, Baumgardner said.

"People know us for our certain wines that we have," he said. "None of that is going to change. They know us for our customer service. We want to continue to offer that and then expand into more personalized experiences."

Currently the farm winery offers free wine tastings with cheese and crackers.

In 2016, customers will be able to choose from a complimentary tasting of three wines, or, for a $5 upcharge, they can select six wines and take home a customized tasting glass, Special Projects Manager Katie Martin said. Customers will be able to choose a dry or sweet flight, she said, and staff will provide recommendations.

"It's going to be a little bit more of an in-depth, one-on-one experience with our staff," Martin said, adding that the winery plans to release several new wines in 2016.

Occasional food pairings will also be offered for an additional charge at the farm winery, Baumgardner said, adding that they will likely tie in with holidays. They're planning a chocolate and wine pairing for Valentine's Day, for example, he said.

Some of Baumgardner's favorite Adams County Winery pairings include mixing in Rebel Red instead of grape jelly when making barbecue sauce, pouring Cherese Masquerade Cherry Wine over warm brownies and sipping Scrapple Wine with a ham dinner.

"One of our customers came in, and I want to steal their idea and I haven't tried this yet, but they say they get the Black Magic Wine to drizzle over waffles in the morning," he said. "That sounds pretty fantastic."

In the spring, the winery plans to have an in-house food service staff to prepare light fare options on a regular basis, Baumgardner said.

​"Food in general is going to be a major focus of ours as we go into 2016," he said.

Details are still being finalized for this year's new events, but customers can look forward to "It’s Chili Out" on weekends in January, during which the winery will serve up homemade chili for $6 per bowl.

"That is just what we're hoping is the beginning," Baumgardner said.

Since Baumgardner joined the winery staff four years ago, he said, the number of licensed wineries in Pennsylvania has increased from about 160 to more than 200. These days it is necessary for wineries to offer customers ways to enhance their visit.

"With more competition, you have to keep reinventing yourself," he said.

In addition to the Franklin Township farm location, Adams County Winery sells its products at the Wine Shop at 25C in Gettysburg and The Markets at Hanover.

One of its best sellers is Rebel Red, a semi-sweet red wine, Baumgardner said.

Sharon Ferg, 50, of New Freedom stopped by the winery's booth at The Markets at Hanover Dec. 23 to pick up a bottle of the in-demand beverage.

Not a frequent wine-drinker, Ferg recently tried Rebel Red for the first time on her 50th birthday when her sister purchased a bottle of it.

"I just really enjoyed it," she said. "My sister and I downed the whole bottle."

If you go

What: Adams County Winery
Where: 251 Peach Tree Road, Franklin Township
Contact: 717-334-4631
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week.