Meet the man behind the new Gunpowder Wine Trail

For Harford Magazine

Three local wineries recently joined forces to create the Gunpowder Wine Trail, an attempt to raise awareness of the wine-producing region. Harford Vineyard and Winery in Forest Hill, Dejon Vineyards in Hydes and Royal Rabbit Vineyards in Parkton are jointly hosting three events this year — an Earth Day celebration that took place in April, a Cinco de Mayo Celebration earlier this month, and a Christmas-themed event in December — and they hope to expand their offerings in the future.

Kevin Mooney, who owns and operates Harford Vineyard with his wife, Teresa, and who took the lead in organizing the new wine trail, answered questions about the venture.

What was the inspiration for the Gunpowder Wine Trail?

We wanted to create an event-driven trail to showcase local craft, wineries, farms, and the products they offer. … We’ve been a winery for nine years, and we constantly get people walking in the door who say they never even knew we were here. We feel that by giving people fun events throughout the year, they can learn about us and about the area. It gives them a reason to come and try us out, and maybe come back and see us.

How does the trail work?

With one single ticket, people can visit all three wineries for the day. They’re self-guiding tours, and people can learn about grape-growing, planting and more. We also have a special tasting, some light food pairing. For the Earth Day event, we had a farmers’ market, alpacas, food vendors. We feel that by by giving people fun events throughout the year, they can come out and visit us and maybe a few others, and really learn about the area.

What do you expect to get out of the trail?

This is the next step to help grow, for everyone involved. … Somebody that’s never heard of us but knows Royal Rabbit or knows Dejon Vineyards may buy a ticket because they get their newsletter, and this way they learn about us — and vice versa. Also, when we combine our marketing dollars and promote the Gunpowder Wine Trail, we all get the promotion out of that. We compete against each other, but we also help each other out. I feel an increasing tide floats all boats.

Are wine trails popular now?

They’re very popular. There are wine trails all over the state — we’re on the Piedmont Wine Trail also. But there aren’t a lot of event-driven trails, trails where the whole purpose is to create events and give people fun things to do. This is what we’re trying to create: a larger-than-us venue to get people to come see us.

What do you expect in future years?

We’re just doing three events this year, but next year we hope to have a full schedule all the way through the year, maybe even a month-long event. Also, we hope to expand the trail, bring other people and businesses into it. Eventually, we may add local distilleries, for example.

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