BALTIMORE (WJZ)—It’s one of Baltimore’s most popular springtime traditions where you can enjoy homemade wine, live music and great food and also help the community.

Ron Matz reports preparations are underway for Sunday’s Highlandtown Wine Festival.

The bells of Our Lady of Pompei, the white marble steps, DiPasquale’s Italian Marketplace: This is Highlandtown.

“It started out as a campfire sort of thing in the courtyard of the church,” said Joe DiPasquale, festival co-founder. “A few wine makers showed up. We compared our wines, and now we usually have about 1,000 people, and they talk about it all year.”

“When we started 11 years ago it was behind the church and we had a couple of hundred people and thought it was a super turnout. Now we have to take over more and more blocks to accommodate all the people because it’s such a good event,” said Domenic Petrucci, festival co-founder.

Loredana McCarty is coordinating Sunday’s 11th annual Highlandtown Wine Festival.

“It’s a good time. It’s a festival full of music and tastings. There’s Italian food, culture and tradition,” McCarty said.

You can learn all about the art of making and enjoying some great homemade wine.

“People come to taste the homemade wine and the Italian food. They meet with a lot of other people. It’s a good event for the Highlandtown community, the church, and the most important thing is that people will be together,” Petrucci said.

Besides the great homemade wine, there’s live music and classic Italian food.

“With good wine you need good food, so DiPasqualee’s is supplying some of the Italian traditional things. The Italian sub, the meatball sub and porchetta, the broccoli rabe, these are three of the main items we offer at the festival,” said Joe DiPasquale, DiPasquale’s Italian Marketplace.

So raise a glass, and come and enjoy with about 1,000 of your friends.

“The community gathers for a common good,” McCarty said. “Some of the money raised goes to the Highlandtown Community Association. They do lots of wonderful things like planting trees and flowers in the neighborhood.”

It’s a springtime valentine from one of Baltimore’s most beloved neighborhoods.

“It’s still a wonderful neighborhood. I spent 40 years in Highlandtown. I love it. It’s in my heart,” Petrucci said.

Sunday’s festival is 1-6 p.m.

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