Over the past five years, the team at The Vineyard and Brewery at Hershey has defined itself as the place for liquid enjoyment as well as top-notch live entertainment. While many bars and breweries do a great job hosting live tunes, The Vineyard and Brewery at Hershey is leading the charge by proving they can be both an astute brewery and winery with quality products and a destination for live music.
August 26 marks the fifth Annual Release Day of winemaker L. Paul Vezzetti’s exceptional Merlot and brewmaster Ryan DeLutis’s seasonal Flash Gourd’n Pumpkin Beer. One of three yearly festivals, this year’s edition of The Vineyard and Brewery at Hershey’s fall harvest festival will feature live performances from Blues Traveler, the Spin Doctors and Gin Blossoms. Get tickets in advance, as they are sure to sell out.
The Merlot & Flash Gourd’n Release Party was conceived when The Vineyard at Hershey decided it wanted to celebrate the release of its new Merlot vintage each year. It’s a dry red Pennsylvania wine, and tagged as “the Pennsylvania wine that will change your mind.” To really make an impact, partner Michael Wilson deemed himself “Merlot Mike, King of the Pennsylvania grapes” for the event.
Mike explained, “We knew we needed to make an entrance that first year, so I went to Eddie’s Fine Clothing in downtown Harrisburg, where they’re known for having sidewalk sales with really colorful suits. At this sidewalk in the middle of the city, I found this bright purple suit and matching purple snakeskin shoes. For my grand entrance at the event, I was able to take the doors off of a helicopter and fly in from the Lancaster Airport. It was epic!”
Since then, the brewery has joined the fun by releasing its Flash Gourd’n Pumpkin Ale. Merlot Mike’s entrances have gotten even crazier, including a monster truck one year. The bands also continue to impress, including popular rockers Everclear in 2016.
The team is especially excited for this year’s event, which runs from 1 to 9 p.m. “We’re big fans of the bands,” Mike declared. I’m a huge Gin Blossoms fan, and I know our brewmaster, Ryan, really likes the Spin Doctors, and our president, Jason Reimer, loves Blues Traveler. It will be a great show.”
Amid the beverage release and live music, Merlot Mike will also judge a spirited tailgating competition. He said, “People get really creative, and they’ve really raised the bar in recent years. They go all out with table setups using our bottles and even cardboard cutouts of myself as Merlot Mike. It’s really fun.” The camaraderie of the event is growing along with the size and the profile of the acts, which is impressive to see given its humble beginnings.
With three meaningful festivals—and possibly a fourth—taking place throughout the year, The Vineyard and Brewery at Hershey is putting itself on the map as a concert venue on top of being a great place to savor a drink. Make sure to check out the event and mark your calendars now for next year’s release.
The Brewers of Pennsylvania is a nonprofit trade association that brings together leaders of Pennsylvania-based breweries in order to promote and protect the brewing industry in the state. Established in 2011, the Brewers of Pennsylvania serves the consuming public of Pennsylvania by encouraging brand diversity in the market. We believe in the nobility of brewing and hold dear the great traditions and history of Pennsylvania brewing.
Featured image: The Vineyard and Brewery at Hershey; other photos, top to bottom: The Vineyard and Brewery at Hershey; “Merlot” Mike Wilson, The Vineyard and Brewery of Hershey (next two photos); JesusMPhotography; “Merlot” Mike Wilson, The Vineyard and Brewery of Hershey