Have a Vine Time at North East WineFest
An opportunity to hear live music and taste wine from eleven different Pennsylvania vintners
Friday, Sept. 27 - 29
Two locations, 11 wineries, 20 bands, and a classic car cruise-in — North East is set to be the best three-day party place in the region.
Collectively, it's known formally as the "Wine Country Harvest Festival," but everybody just called it "WineFest," so the name stuck. You may be thinking that the longer, fancier name is more fitting for a festival about wine, the most pretentious of beverages. Despite looking, smelling, and tasting like the Bordeaux region of France, the little town of North East has never been about pretensions. The festival is more about having fun than being hoity-toity.
And fun will be had!
Eleven different Pennsylvania vintners will be there with their wares for tasting. Present will be mainstays of regional wine-making like Mazza, Penn Shore, and Presque Isle. But fresher faces will bring their offerings as well — if you have not tried the Uneven Keel port-style wine from Courtyard, in its funky crooked bottle, this is the perfect time to loosen up on its high-octane bite. It's not just about sweet Concords and fruit wines in this region anymore. South Shore's Grüner Veltliner is considered the best dry wine in Pennsylvania (having won the PA Farm Show Governor's Cup this year). There will even be ciders to try and meads from Ironstone Meadery. In total, there will be over 100 different wines to sample.
With your tasting ticket, you will be given the opportunity to buy a bottle to take out of the tasting area and enjoy it while you watch the bands. Funky party band The Groove headlines on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Gravel Pit Park and folk favorites Gem City Revival close the festival out on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Sit back, chill, and relax or dance your tipsy butt off. There are a lot of musical offerings all weekend at both parks. The full schedule is available at the North East Chamber of Commerce website.
There will be a shuttle available to take revelers from one location to the other. Parking is easier to find at Gravel Pit, but roadside parking is available downtown. Each park has its own vibe. Gravel Pit is party central with more craziness, grape stomping, and wine-fueled shouting and giggling. While there, peruse dozens of classic cars competing for the Grape Queen's trophy and the Best Car from 1969. Gibson Park is more laid-back and a great place for the kids. There you will find free face-painting, caricatures, balloon animals, and horse-drawn carriage rides.
As if all this wasn't enough, other activities abound: a 5K race on Sunday morning, a bike tour of the wineries Saturday (both begin at 9 a.m.), and tours of the LakeShore Rail Museum. If you want a little bit of pretension, attend the Winemaker's Dinner with food pairings Thursday evening or the Champagne Brunch on Saturday. Just remember to put your pinkie down before heading back to the rest of the fun. — Bryan Toy
Friday 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. // Gravel Pit Park, 10300 W. Main Rd.; and Gibson Park, at the corner of Routes 20 and 89; North East, PA 16428 // Gravel Pit - admission $8 per person, children 10 and under are free; Gibson — free admission for all // Wine tasting tickets are $20 for Friday or Sunday, $25 for Saturday, or $50 for the weekend (pre-sale only). Single day passes are available at the gate for $5 more. // nechamber.org