Friday, January 30, 2009

Wine Society pours heart, soul into education

It was the wine excellence awards held Jan. 18 at the Harrisburg Hilton that first got me to look at the Pennsylvania Wine Society
Web site. Now, I'm a regular, at least as an observer of what this more than 21-year-old organization is educate those who want to understand and appreciate fine wines. It's a group of around 155 strong that holds events at least once a month, primarily at the Harrisburg Hilton. Club president Paul Seymour said by phone the other day that they've brought in a number of distinguished speakers during the history of the organization, from Robert Parker (“although I don't think I could get him today,” he said, laughing) to importer Bobby Kacher to Best Cellars owner Joshua Wesson.

“For the most part, we try and bring in outside speakers who are recognized experts, producers, importers, educators, people from the restaurant industry,” Seymour said. “We've had quite a few well- known people in the wine industry who are speakers.”

They generally meet at the Harrisburg Hilton, although Seymour noted they held their 20-year anniversary gala at the Country Club of Harrisburg and have held several other events at the National Civil War Museum. Events usually draw around 50 or 60 people, although some have lured up to 100.

Membership costs $30 annual for an individual and $50 for two persons living at the same address. It's a little higher for anyone wanting the perks of a patron membership. “Our mailing list goes beyond Harrisburg,” Seymour said. “It's primarily the Harrisburg area, but some from Lancaster, some from York, some from as far as State College, Reading.”

While the organization draws people often with national recognition, it tries not to stray too far from its roots. The excellence awards, recognizing the 10 best wines in the state, were held for the seventh time. Among the speakers have been Lee and Eric Miller from Chaddsford Winery in Chester County, and twice York County's Allegro Vineyards has been represented.

“We reach out somewhat,” Seymour said, when asked about how much they showcase wines and wineries in Pennsylvania. “I'd say primarily Old World, although we do some New World. In addition to Pennsylvania wine excellence event, which is every January, usually we'll have at least an East Coast if not a Pennsylvania winery at least once every other year, I would say.”

No comments: