As central Pa. winery sets to close for winter, plans already underway for 2023

Cassel Vineyards of Hershey will be open today and then next weekend (Thursday to Sunday) before, as is its tradition, closing for the season.

The owners will reopen the place for its 11th season in March 2023.

In addition to the extensive line of wines (dry to sweet) and ciders for sale there, Cassel has grown its following with an annual series of free summer concerts that last into October and other events such as trivia nights. There’s plenty of room to sit and look out over the vineyard, and that view on the working farm can also yield glimpses of free-roaming peacocks and guineas along with mares and foals grazing on the hillside.

Here’s a story PennLive wrote on the Hummelstown, Dauphin County winery when it opened for the season this past March.

Ahead of the final week, Craig Cassel responded to several questions about the 2022 season.

Q, How is that wine club doing? That’s a quarterly deal, yes?

A, We are having a great time with our wine club. We have quarterly pick-ups and special events and our members are permitted to bring a friend to each event to introduce others to our club. The club continues to grow and we get a lot of positive feedback.

Cassel Vineyards of Hershey

The vineyards at Cassel Vineyards of Hershey in Hummelstown, Dauphin County, once again lies dormant.

Q, I know so many wineries like it for the financial support it provides but also the loyalty and “family” a club builds. I assume they give you plenty of feedback?

A, We have a very nice group of members who help to promote our winery and provide us with a guaranteed quarterly sale so we treat them very well. Because we are a family-owned business, we really emphasize the family feel with grape-picking events and special concerts for our wine club members. In return, they give us a lot of support and feedback and some of our best promotional ideas have originated in our wine club.

Q, Was there a normal feel about this year, or is it new normal these days? Just a glance at the emails I’d get or at your Facebook page, it appears all your events, etc., are back?

A, It was a normal feel this season but things have definitely changed for the better. Our new normal gives guests several seating and tasting options based on their level of comfort. The new normal includes our outside patio with the retractable windows and the “cinder garden” where guests can sit and enjoy tastings in a more secluded setting. The new normal has created a much more open feel and families and pets and people love the atmosphere.

Q, Any new creations for 2023, cider or wine?

A, We are planning to provide a new barrel-aged, cider-based, dessert wine called Pommeau in 2023. We are also working on improving our Chardonnay by planting different clones, incorporating a different winemaking technique and barrel aging some of our best Chardonnay wine.

Cassel Vineyards of Hershey

Cassel Vineyards lines up some of its wines for sale ahead of the holidays.

Q, And any plans for any changes, additions, on the property?

A, We are planning to expand our on-site food service at the winery by adding charcuterie to our cheese and cracker offerings. We are also expanding the variety of our different food trucks at our Friday and Saturday evening concerts. Our music is now scheduled by John Christopher entertainment, and his excellent bands and performers have brought us a lot of positive feedback.

Q, I think there is something to be said for the two or three months break you have. What will happen there during those three months? And how are you all feeling by this time of the year?

A, We will be making and bottling the new wines and getting the vineyard pruned for the coming summer growing season. Three members of the family still work their day jobs as teachers; this gives them a break from working two full-time jobs. We will be at the Pa. Farm Show on Jan. 13 and 14 and plan to do several winter wine festivals. We really value this two-month break to get things reorganized and prepared for the upcoming 2023 season.


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