There's no question tourism has been a boon to Allegro Winery.

Before the Brogue-based business joined the Mason-Dixon Wine Trail, March used to be a slow month.

"We used to see 30 people during the whole month of March. Now, we see 300 on a Saturday," said Carl Helrich, owner and wine maker at Allegro.

On some days, 518 visitors walk through the winery, thanks to annual events like Tour de Tanks in March and Wine Just Off the Vine in November.

Each event attracts about 2,000 customers to Allegro, he said.

"It's just remarkable that 2,000 people can find their way to Brogue," Helrich said with a laugh.

Crucial: But on a serious note, promotions and tourism events facilitated by the York County Convention & Visitors Bureau have been crucial to Allegro and the local economy, he said.

"The role they play for us can't be overstated," Helrich said.

On Saturday, Allegro will participate in the first-ever Wine Tourism Day. Allegro is the only York County winery participating in the national event.

Other regional participants include Reid's Orchard & Winery in Gettysburg, The Vineyard at Hershey in Middletown and six wineries in Maryland.

Those nine wineries along the Mason-Dixon Wine Trail will offer special discounts and activities this weekend for Wine Tourism Day.


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Allegro, which normally charges a fee for wine tasting, will offer free wine tasting on Saturday. Guests can sample 18 to 21 wines without any cost, Helrich said.

"It's a way for people to find out what they like without any risk," he said.

Events like Wine Tourism Day are "absolutely necessary to Allegro and a growing and young industry," Helrich said. "People tend to think of California as being the wine source, but there are wineries in their backyards and they're making good wine."

Economic boost: Tourism events are also necessary for the county's economy, local leaders said.

"We think tourism is very important to the York economy," said Bob Jensenius, vice president of the York County Economic Alliance.

The county typically sees a boost in the summer because of the many events hosted in the county, he said.

"Of course, the challenge

remains. People will drive by York on their way to Hershey, Gettysburg and Lancaster, but we've got an awful lot to offer here," Jensenius said.

Tourism revenue funnels $850 million into the York County economy every year, according to the York County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Season: With National Tourism Week being celebrated through Sunday and Wine Tourism Day held Saturday, the Convention & Visitors Bureau sees this week as a kickoff to a busy tourism season, said Allison Freeman, spokeswoman for the bureau.

This weekend, the Utz Arena, formerly Toyota Arena, will host the Pennsylvania Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association during the annual Breeders Showcase.

"The next big one we have is the street rods event at the end of the month. It brings in more than 13,000 people and $11 million," Freeman said.

From Friday, May 31, through Sunday, June 2, the National Street Rod Association will host the annual Street Rod Nationals East in York. More than 4,000 street rods, customs, muscle cars and street machines will be displayed at the York Expo Center.

The county will also get a boost from three softball tournaments held during the summer, which will attract more than $2 million and 2,500 visitors, Freeman said.

Factory tours, the York Fair, Eastern Division Train Collectors Association, several motorcycle events and numerous other activities make for a robust tourism industry and support 7,165 jobs in York County, she said.

"We see this week as a good kickoff for our summer season and are gearing up for a very busy year," Freeman said.

-- Candy Woodall can also be reached at cwoodall@yorkdispatch.com.