Wednesday, January 21, 2009

March the month for hitting the trails

Received my tickets in the mail yesterday for the 2009 Tour de Tanks, which begins Feb. 28 and runs weekends through the end of March. That's the event that really opened my eyes to how many wineries had opened in the area. This is a chance, for a comparatively low passport ticket of $15, to spend time at all 12 wineries that make up Tour de Tanks, stretching from Lancaster County across York County and into Adams County, in addition to Cullari Vineyards & Winery in Hershey and West Hanover Winery outside Harrisburg. You can stop in, get your ticket stamped, sample the wines that are out, and generally nosh on a wide variety of foods. And, believe me, everyone has their own idea of what to pair with the wines. The times are noon to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets, which can be purchased online and at participating wineries, will get you 10 percent off any wine purchases and a chance to win prizes once the event ends.

Tour de Tanks is unusual in that its the one time each year these wineries all do something together as the Uncork York wine trail; they're not officially part of the same trail although it does make you wonder why they don't get together and plan other events. A few of the wineries are members of a Mason-Dixon trail with wineries in Maryland, but that relationship lost much of its vigor in the past couple of years.

Meanwhile, other trails do their own version of Tour de Tanks. The six members of the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail, located in Philly's western burbs, will hold their successful Barrels on the Brandywine every weekend day in March. Tickets are $25 per person. Same with the nine members of the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail, in and around Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, which charges $30 apiece for its March Madness passport program.

No matter where you go, you won't find a cheaper way to get acquainted with the wines of the region.

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