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Exploring the Gettysburg Wine and Fruit Trail

When people visit the Gettysburg Battlefield and National Military Park, they don’t realize that they are also entering the heart of Pennsylvania’s Apple Country. Just minutes from the Battlefield in Adams County, PA are 20,000 acres of fruit trees, and a more recent addition, vineyards. Families looking to take a break from history can easily get into the scenic countryside to explore Gettysburg’s Wine and Fruit Trail. The Trail includes more than half a dozen farm markets, nurseries and wineries showcasing the agricultural bounty the region has to offer.

The season really kicks off during the Apple Blossom Festival, taking place in early May. For those that get excited about Washington D.C.’s cherry blossom festival, just imagine the rolling hillsides bursting with billions of blossoms. We visited Gettysburg just before the arrival of the apple blossoms when the plentiful peach trees were just starting to show their color, so it was easy to imagine the glory of seeing these acres of apple orchards coated with blooms.

The official Wine & Fruit Trail showcases family farms, apple orchards, cider-makers, vineyards, wineries, farm-to-table restaurants and historic inns and B&Bs, including local landmarks like the Historic Round Barn (celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2014), Hollabaugh Bros. Fruit Farm with a farm market and country gift shop, and Boyer Nurseries and Orchards, which offers pick-your-own fruit and a fun farm maze for kids.

We visited the Gettysburg Wine and Fruit Trail while taking an afternoon break to absorb the vivid history lesson we’d just received on the Battlefield. As we drove through the rolling hills, it was easy to picture Confederate troops making their way through those mountains to try to sneak up to Harrisburg.

Adams County Winery

Our first stop on the trail was the oldest of the Gettysburg wineries, Adams County Winery. Adams County Winery began producing wine in 1975, one of the first seven wineries in Pennsylvania. They have a shop and tasting room in downtown Gettysburg but I would contend that a visit to the winery is more enjoyable because of the atmosphere and scenery along the drive. The winery itself is housed in a German-Scottish style bank barn, believed to have been built during the Civil War. Adams County is very family and pet friendly, with 15 acres of vineyards on a 75 acre farm property. In fact, we were greeted at the door by the winery dog, who wasn’t entirely sure she wanted to hang out with us or just say hello. The staff was friendly and accommodating, offering my daughter tastes of grape juice to go along with my tastings. They offer free tastings daily in their tasting room and gift shop, and also offer winery tours with reservations.

Adams County Winery - Exploring the Gettysburg Wine and Fruit Trail

At the entrance to Adam’s County Winery

Adams County Winery has over 20 varieties of wines to choose from, which are sourced from their grapes and other vineyards. In fact, they were named the official wines of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and the Gettysburg Address, with special commemorative labels. When dining in Gettysburg you will notice their hallmark wines including Tears of Gettysburg, a blend of Vidal, Seyval and Niagara grapes; and Rebel Red, a semi-sweet Concord blend. During our tasting I tried the Appalachian Moon and Traveller Chardonnays; as well as the Evening Embers Cabernet Sauvignon and Chambourcin blend, the Journey Cabernet Sauvignon, Destination Pinot Noir and Turning Point reds. If you like wines on the sweeter side, you will probably enjoy many of the selections at Adams County. I brought home a bottle of the Traveller Chardonnay and Vidal blend to pair with seafood and poultry.

Adam's County Winery patio - Exploring the Gettysburg Wine and Fruit Trail

Adam’s County Winery Patio

Adam's County Winery - Gettysburg Wines

Traveller Chardonnay Vidal Blend from their Historic Collection

The winery offers a large patio and they host a summer concert series on Saturday evenings in the summer, which could make for a fun night out for the whole family.

Hauser Estate Winery

After our visit to Adams County Winery, we wound our way through the orchards to our second stop, Hauser Estate Winery. Located just down the road from the Historic Round Barn, Hauser is a contrast to Adams’ rustic setting, which was noticeable from the dramatic entrance to the estate. After pulling into their drive you work your way up the hill to the estate and tasting room, which offers a dramatic sweeping view of the valley below. It was so windy on the day we visited we didn’t spend much time outside on the beautiful patio enjoying that view for fear we would be blown right off, but on nicer days it would be a great space for enjoying a glass of wine or take in one of their many events like weekend After Hours Weekends and Thirsty Thursdays with musicians, drink specials and appetizers; or the Summer Concert Series with nationally-acclaimed bands, food vendors and dancing.

Hauser Estate Winery on the Gettysburg Wine and Fruit Trail

Hauser Estate Entrance

Hauser Estates Winery patio in Gettysburg, PA

Hauser Estates Winery Patio

The estate was previously home to acres of PA apples and now boasts an underground winery production facility beneath their modern 360 degree glass enclosed tasting room, where cider tasting is free and wine tastings are $2.00 to sample six wines. Again, they were quite accommodating to children and offered my daughter some chocolate to taste. Since I was driving I couldn’t taste all six but had a brief sip of a few of their wines. What really caught my tastebuds though was their hard cider. Cider is making a comeback in the U.S. and the heart of apple country seems like a good place to give it a go. With about the alcohol content of a standard beer, I like the light, refreshing taste of a hard cider on a hot summer day.

Jack's Hard Cider from Hauser Estates

Hauser Estates’ Hard Cider

Mr. Ed’s Elephant Museum

While all this wine tasting and beautiful scenery is lovely, your kids might need a break with something a bit more up their alley. So maybe some candy sampling is more in line with their taste. Just off the Gettysburg Wine & Fruit Trail you will find Mr. Ed’s Elephant Museum and candy shop. When I first heard about Mr. Ed’s I thought, “what on earth is an elephant museum and what is it doing in Gettysburg, PA?” But Mr. Ed’s is more of a collection — a GIANT collection — of elephant figurines with more than 10,000 elephants. He is easy to find with a giant elephant outside. Once inside, after your jaw drops from the variety and breadth of the collection in his “museum,” the kids might be more intrigued by the candy and gift shop. In addition to fudge and other chocolate specialties (like chocolate covered blueberries and chocolate bacon), you will find barrels of old fashioned candy that you put into buckets and buy by the weight.

Mr. Ed's Elephant Museum and Candy Store in Gettysburg, PA

Mr. Ed’s is easy to find

The elephant collection at Mr. Ed's Elephant Museum and Candy Store in Gettysburg, PA

Just a sample of Mr. Ed’s 10,000+ elephants

If you are planning a visit to Gettysburg’s Wine and Fruit Trail, I’d suggest timing it with one of the many festivals taking place during the year like the Apple Blossom Festival in early May, the Gettysburg Brew Fest in August, the Gettysburg Wine and Music Festival in September, or the 50th National Apple Harvest Festival taking place October 4-5th and 11-12th, 2014.

Thank you to Destination Gettysburg for planning our itinerary and hosting our stay in Gettysburg, with special thanks to Hauser Estates and Adams County Wineries for the free tastings.

 

 

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