Looking for the perfect way to usher in the summer season? Look no further than beautiful Natirar Park in Peapack-Gladstone in Somerset County this weekend when  the Garden State Wine Growers Association (GSWGA) hosts their annual Blues & Wine Festival on Memorial Day Weekend, May 26-27 from Noon-5 p.m. each day. 

This year, the GSWGA’s first outdoor wine tasting event of the year will offer a sampling of more than 250 award winning New Jersey wines from over 20 wineries and gourmet foods within the confines of one of the most beautiful park settings in the state.

Admission is $25 per person at the door and includes a souvenir wine glass. Attendees will be able to purchase wine by the bottle and case. Advance tickets are also available for $20 by going online at www.newjerseywines.com.  All of the wines available for sampling have been locally produced and feature a number of gold, silver and bronze award winning vintages from major national competitions including the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, The Los Angeles County Fair Wine Competition, the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition and the Beverage Testing Institute Wine Challenge.

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“We think our event menu of great food, award-winning wine and classic blues provides the perfect way to celebrate Memorial Day weekend,” said Ollie Tomasello, Chairman of the Garden State Wine Growers Association and owner of Plagido’s Winery in Hammonton. “There’s no more beautiful a setting than Natirar Park. We hope everyone can come out and spend some time sampling the best that New Jersey wineries have to offer.”

Outstanding local musical talent will take the stage each day at the event.  Featured performers include:

May 26-Slackjaw Blues Band featuring Nasty Ned: www.slackjawbluesband.com
May 27- Shade Tree Mechanics Band: www.shadetreemechanicsband.com

Slackjaw is a blues/rock band from New Jersey. Founded by John Thompson and Randy Marinelli, they have created a band with a style all their own. With influences such as Joe Bonamassa, Eric Clapton, BB King, all the way to Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, they have made an impact on the local band scene. Carl Capodice and Lenny De Piano soon joined the band and now Slackjaw has a brand new sound of blues and rock.

Shadetree Mechanics Band has been the runner up for JSJBF, Memphis Blues competition the last four years in row. The band consists of guitarist, Redman and blues harp player JP Palooch. Bassist, Elmo John and drummer Ray G and Pat G on keyboards. Rounding out this high energy band is The Rev (Mike Rochelle), originally from Chicago, now residing in New Jersey. The band plays a mix of standard and contemporary blues covers, as well as original songs from their last two self-produced CD's.

Winners of the recent New Jersey Wine Competition will be showcasing their medals at the event where the 2012 New Jersey Winery of the Year will be unveiled. 

Wineries at the Festival include:

4JG's
Almathea Cellars

Auburn Road Winery & Vineyard
Bellview Winery
Cava Winery
Chestnut Run Farms
Coda Rossa
Cream Ridge Winery
DiBella Winery
DiMatteo Winery
Four Sisters Winery
Heritage Vineyards
Hopewell Valley Vineyards

Old York Cellars
Plagido's Winery
Renault Winery

Sharrott Winery

Silver Decoy Winery
Tomasello Winery
Unionville Vineyards

Valenzano Winery

Ventimiglia Winery
Wagonhouse Winery

The event comes on the heels of the GSWGA’s indoor Spring Fever Wine Festival at Branches in West Long Branch, which drew over 1500 attendees on April 1.

For the first time, attendees at the Festival will also be able to purchase wines directly from GSWGA member wineries via the internet or phone with the launch of direct shipping. Thus, attendees will not only have the chance to sample and purchase wine at the Festival, but will be able to know they can now purchase wines directly from these establishments in the near future.

To purchase tickets in advance and for more information on the Garden State Wine Growers Association, visit www.newjerseywines.com.