The Winery at the Long Shot Farm is approaching its fourth birthday, long enough to have figured out where it fits among central Pennsylvania’s diverse group of producers.
Located at 1925 McClure’s Gap Road, about a 15-minute drive northwest of Carlisle, the winery and tasting room are housed in a remodeled historic barn, surrounded by vineyards, a large pond and an eye-opening view of Blue Mountain.
Its vineyards are located in the Cumberland Valley America Viticulture Area (AVA) and currently include the hybrid varieties of Vidal Blanc, Corot Noir, Chambourcin, Traminette and Chardonel and the American varieties Concord and Niagara. Per the website, much of the fruit for its country wines – including blackberries, elderberries and blueberries – is also grown there, with other fruit sourced locally.
The tasting room is located in the upper level of the barn and opens to a large deck, which overlooks the vineyard and farm pond. Its open for business 3 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 3 to 9 p.m. Fridays, and 2 to 9 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
This is a family-owned and family-run business, one that for years grew grapes and berries for others and then evolved into a winery. Jeff and Tina Weyant run the place, but per the website, they’re getting plenty of help from their five children, four children-in-law and eight grandchildren. “All have their own way of contributing,” the website says. “We are a big family and that allows us to pull from everyone’s strengths.”
You can read more about them at this link. The wine list, accessible via this link, is a wide mix of dry to sweet.
The piece published on PennLive in 2018 noted that Tina is another of the graduates of the former HACC enology/viticulture program that has put that education to good use.
As for the name, that was more process of elimination, as Tona explained: “It was nearly impossible to come up with a name for either the farm – or the winery. It seems that every possible name was taken by golf courses, housing development or venues – whatever we came up with was quickly nixed by a Google search 🙂 “
In the end, they wound up with a name that captures some of the risk that accompanies any business, and one that a lot of people can relate to. That long shot has turned into a successful enterprise even in the midst of a pandemic.
Below is the latest in the “6 Questions” series of interviews with winemakers and owners of East Coast wineries, which looks behind at what has been a turbulent year and, with optimism, looks ahead. Thanks to Weyant for taking these on.
Q, What do you know now that you didn’t know 2 years ago when you opened the place?
A, We needed a lot more space than we anticipated, and we doubled our small inside space right before COVID hit. We underestimated storage space, for things like skids of empty bottles, and seasonal items, extra tables and chairs. And we needed overflow parking.
Q, One of those years was during a pandemic (I’m sure you didn’t include that in your original plans). How was this past year how did you manage to keep sales rolling, etc?
A, We were rather fortunate during the pandemic. Initially, we had curbside pickup only, and for months we only sold bottles. That worked OK for us – and during the weeks where the state stores were closed, we did incredibly well. We had a lot of new customers, who bought wine without even tasting it, and they came back later.
But our real asset during the pandemic was all of our outdoor space, where people could spread out and feel relatively safe. As long as the weather was nice, people would bring their own chairs and blankets, pack a picnic or buy food from the food trucks we had on weekends. We hosted trivia events outside and had music.
Q, With that, have you made any changes there you plan to keep intact even after the pandemic fades?
A, Yes, we will continue to invest in our outside space, and we are working on expanding our inside space as well. We’ll always offer curbside pickup, as that may be more convenient for some people.
Q, Refresh my memory how many acres of vines are you replanting or planting anything this spring or next?
A, Two of our children and their families also have vineyards, within 1/4 mile of ours at the winery. Between us we have close to 12 acres at this point. And we are planting new grapevines every spring. This year, we added more Corot Noir and Traminette, as well as [new for us] Aradell, Cab Franc and Pinot Gris grapes.
Q, I LOVE Chardonel. Have your customers taken to it? Do most have to be educated on what it is or just sample it and like it? What is your most popular red there?
A, I also love Chardonel. Yes, a lot of our customers like it – those who like dry or off-dry wines enjoy Chardonel.
Regarding our most popular red wine, that would be Bow & Arrow, a semi-sweet blend of Chambourcin and Blackberry (makes a nice after-dinner wine, not too sweet). It has a lot of fans.
Q, Have the slushies been a big hit? Have you had those since the beginning? Just give me some insights into how much of your business that’s become it seems like a product that gets a lot of fans in a hurry.
A, Yes, slushies are a big hit – all year round, but especially once the weather gets a bit warmer. We have had them since we started and we have been making our own slushy packs, to match each of our wines. We also have done some unique flavors for special occasions. For example, last summer I made a small batch of mint wine, which we used for slushies around St. Patrick’s Day, and earlier this month we made a Sangria slushy, which was a combination of red wine and orange juice.
We still sell more wine than slushies – but in the summer months, it is pretty much neck and neck between both products.
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