Saturday, July 28, 2012

Back Mountain Wine Festival This Weekend, July 28 and 29, Luzerne County Fairgrounds (PA)

Back Mountain Wine Festival has improved with age
Times Leader (PA)
Jul 27, 2012

Wines by the Capra Collina Vineyard of Jessup have regularly been a part of the festival.

What: Back Mountain Wine Festival
When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow
Where: Luzerne County Fairgrounds, 1010 Route 118, Dallas
Tickets: $15 advance, $25 day of event, $5 designated drivers and under 21. Deadline for advance tickets is 5 p.m. today. Visit

Doubling event attendance is always a good indication of success, especially when said event hasn’t been around very long. But tripling it? That’s an incredible feat with which Upstate Wine Country’s Back Mountain Wine Festival is familiar.

“We started out four years ago holding it on the go-kart track at the Pikes Creek Raceway,” founder Dan Tompkins said. “But we quickly outgrew that. In our second year we had 400 people, and when we made the change to the Luzerne County Fairgrounds last year we ended up with 1,200. This year we hope to have between 1,500 and 2,000.”

The festival will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow and bring with it 10 wine-tasting booths. Among them will be Antler Ridge Winery, Bartolai Winery, Blue Mountain Vineyards & Cellars, Capra Collina Vineyard, Ferrone Family Winery, Maiolatesi Wine Cellars and Winterland Winery.

Vintner’s Circle also will be on hand to let people know about what Tompkins calls a novel experience: The company allows visitors to its Dickson City site to make their own wine.

Vendors who specialize in food, crafts, jewelry, apparel and home-and-garden d├ęcor will be on hand as well.

“We’ve got plenty of room now,” Tompkins said, “and with the amount of space the Luzerne County Fairgrounds provides, I can see us growing with no problems for the next 10 years.”

Tompkins started Upstate Wine Country, which organizes festivals all over Northeastern Pennsylvania, in 2006 as a way to introduce people to an undiscovered aspect of the region.

“We’re still at the point that the Pennsylvania wine industry is in its infancy, especially for Northeast Pennsylvania,” he said. “People are constantly saying, ‘I didn’t even know there were wineries in Northeast Pennsylvania.’ The cool thing is that once they do learn that, they’re passionate about supporting them.”

Though many of the wineries present are fairly close to greater Wilkes-Barre, some come from farther away.

“The most delightful surprise is that, as the years have gone by in producing festivals, we’ve been drawing from farther and farther away, like Philadelphia, State College and Erie,” Tompkins said. “It really adds to the festival as a whole. This way we can bring local wineries that have become favorites for some to the same place as new wineries, a way to help people discover new things.”

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