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Wine making, tasting festivities in your backyard

wine competition
Homemade wines awaiting their fate in the wine competition.

Do you make wine? Do you want to learn? How about tasting homemade wine – do you like doing that? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, chances are you would have felt right at home yesterday.

June 13 marked the fifth annual Wine Competition held by Harrisburg's very own Italian Coffee Club, a local group of Italian-Americans with big hearts and a passion for all things Italian. Wine making is one tradition that this group is particularly fond of, thanks to club founder, John "Gennaro" DiFabio, and his better half, Judy "Giuditta" Weir. Several times a year, DiFabio arranges excursions to Philadelphia and New Jersey to pick up wine musts. He has taught every one of us how to turn that must into wine, right down to the corking process.

Yesterday DiFabio and Weir opened their North Second Street home for a celebration of the club's homemade wines. Over the years, I've somehow acquired the job of running the wine judging portion of the festivities, and I'm more than happy to help. This year we had a total of 37 wines entered, spanning the categories of dry white, sweet white, blush, dry red, sweet red and novelty wines. Every category had a panel of judges who marked their scores on special rating sheets. Gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded in every category, with Cy "Rosario" Rosito's lambrusco taking the grand prize medal. A wine label competition also followed. Naturally, the wines were accompanied by tables overflowing with delicacies, complete with DiFabio's homemade sausage.

It was the kind of event that started in the afternoon sunlight and ended with animated conversations by candlelight. We wouldn't have it any other way. If you ask the Italian Coffee Club, there's nothing like sharing homemade wine with great friends.

For more info: Harrisburg's Italian Coffee Club is a casual group dedicated to the language, culture and traditions of Italy. Being Italian is not a requirement to join. Visit for details.