Sometimes a quick getaway is all your need to shake off the winter blues, and Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands, located less than an hour from Pittsburgh, is the perfect place to relax and unwind. But don’t forget your passport—Pour Tour 3.0 is now underway!
Pour Tour 3.0 is the third iteration of the area’s popular passport program that unites breweries, wineries, distilleries, meaderies and cideries with craft beverage lovers. The tour, which encompasses libations purveyors in Fayette, Somerset and Westmoreland counties, even provides prizes for those travelers who get a sticker for their passports—provided by GO Laurel Highlands—at each local vendor. For the more tech-driven, the Pour Tour also comes as an app where they can document the places where they’ve stopped for a delicious drink along the trail.
Since its inception in 2019—right before the pandemic hit—the Pour Tour has grown exponentially, and now features 48 local craft beverage leaders that provide every type of libation you can imagine from wine to beer to mead, cider and moonshine. The trail also provides visitors with a chance to enjoy the region’s rich heritage, agricultural diversity and entrepreneurial spirit. The program benefits the area’s producers as well; since its start, it has infused more than $1 million back into the businesses of craft beverage vendors.
According to Ann Nemanic, executive director of GO Laurel Highlands, the passport program has been a big hit among those spending time in the area. “The engagement and excitement of those participants who utilize the passport has been astounding,” she said. “We repeatedly heard that the program has helped them discover so many new establishments in the region. They’ve used the Pour Tour passport as a sort of journal or diary on this trail of discovery.”
“So many great stories have come out of it,” added Eric Knopsnyder, director of public relations, GO Laurel Highlands. “For example, a couple from Jefferson County took part in the trail on their first date; they sent us a note asking for their passport back so that they could include it in their memory book—they’re engaged now.”
The trail has also been used for ‘roving family reunions,’ uniting grandparents with their children and grandchildren as they sample what Laurel Highlands purveyors have to offer. “I think the best endorsement for the Pour Tour is that it brings people together,” said Knopsnyder. “It’s a really welcoming environment.”
Since 2019, nearly 11,000 purchases have been verified through the digital app, and an additional 40,000 people have used the printed passports. More than 1,700 prizes were redeemed during Pour Tour 2.0, and Pour Tour 3.0, which kicked off on Jan. 12, 2023, is expected to draw even more visitors to the area.
A TRAIL FOR EVERY TASTE
No matter what your drink or your area of interest, Pour Tour 3.0 has something that will intrigue you. Want to get a big group together to taste award-winning wines? Head to Bella Terra Vineyards in Hunker, PA, where you can sit in the airy, open tasting room enjoying a wine or cider flight, or book an igloo on the porch for a more private tasting party. The boutique winery, founded by Jay and Joanna Bell in 2015, is open daily and offers weeknight and weekend entertainment.
History buffs will love the opportunity to sample rye whiskey while learning more about Henry Clay Frick’s early beginnings at West Overton Village. As the birthplace of Old Overholt, considered the oldest continually maintained brand of American whiskey, the educational distillery promotes the history and science of making rye whiskey and now offers tastes of its own brand of Monongahela rye for visitors to sample.
“The way it warms you up is known as a Monongahela hug,” laughs Patrick Bochy, co-executive director.
Tattiebogle CiderWorks in Acme, PA makes both traditional and modern, naturally gluten-free ciders using the juice of heirloom trees on their property and from other Pennsylvania orchards. In addition to carrying five year-round selections, they also make seasonal and experimental ciders and a hard seltzer. Stop in to try out a Pear Snaster or a Wee Geordie, and find out more about the cidery’s unique Scottish name.
For those looking for delicious food while enjoying a handcrafted brew, Unity Brewing in Latrobe offers Chef DJae-inspired meals made from locally sourced produce, meats and bread, accompanied by a wide selection of beers produced by co-brewers Kevin Ridilla and Alan Upholster. The taproom is also filled with art by Cody Sabol, which gives the room a cool, colorful vibe and makes it a comfortable place to relax.
Craft beverage enthusiasts can pick up a Pour Tour 3.0 passport at any participating locations or download the Pour Tour App. (Note that for prizes, the app and passport cannot be combined; you need to choose one or the other). Participants with 15 stickers or check-ins can get a Pour Tour 3.0 t-shirt; 30 stickers or check-ins wins a Pour Tour 3.0 growler or Pour Tour flask, and 45 stickers or check-ins gets a canvas/leather wine tote or a portable outdoor beverage table. Those with 45 stickers or more will also be entered into a grand prize drawing for a Laurel Highlands getaway.
To find out more, visit www.GoLaurelHighlands.com.