Wine and history

The Baltimore Sun

A new tradition has been established in Bel Air with the help of international wine, a local nonprofit corporation and a man nicknamed "Pineapple."

This new tradition is the Harford County Wine Festival on the grounds of Rockfield Manor. The festival, in its second year, will take place Saturday and Sunday.

The purpose of the event is somewhat unexpected. Instead of promoting local wineries, the festival aims to raise money and awareness for the Rockfield Foundation - a nonprofit corporation that maintains the historic Rockville Manor and supports the publication of Bel Air community literature.

"We're not out to turn a profit," says Peter Fernandez, a member of the board of directors for the Rockfield Foundation. "We're here to maintain the grounds at the manor and serve the community."

Festivalgoers will have more than 50 wines from about 12 different international wineries to choose from, including Trinchero, Majestic, Banfi and Remy-Cointreau. Food will also be available from area restaurants and caterers such as Giovanni's, Savona, Events Catering and Carried Away Gourmet. The festival will showcase works by local artisans and crafters as well as a variety of musical performances, including one from popular Harford County rock band Kustom Blend.

In addition, Fran "Pineapple" Schmitz, a wine expert from Chateau Ste. Michelle Wine Estates in Washington, will teach a crash-course in wine tasting both days. Attendees will be guided through everything from identifying clarity, color and intensity to recognizing aromas and different ingredients.

"We're excited to have Pineapple at the festival this year, and we hope to keep him coming back," Fernandez says.

The Harford County Wine Festival is noon-7 p.m. Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday at Rockfield Manor, 501 E. Churchville Road, Bel Air. Admission is $20-$25 per day for ages 21 and older and $10 per day for designated drivers and nondrinkers. Ages 12 and younger are admitted free. No coolers, pets or other alcohol containers allowed. Proceeds benefit the Rockfield Foundation. The event is rain or shine. Call 410-638-4565, go to or go to Bel Air Liquors, 116 S. Hickory Ave.

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