CREAM RIDGE, NJ   – The Garden State Wine Growers Association (GSWGA), a coalition of 43 member wineries across the state of New Jersey, will kick-off its festival season on Memorial Day weekend with the “Wine & BBQ Experience” returning to Schooley’s Mountain Park in Long Valley, New Jersey on Saturday, May 28 and Sunday, May 29 from noon to 5 pm (rain date Monday, May 30).

This will be New Jersey’s biggest wine and barbeque holiday extravaganza.  Tickets are priced at $25 in advance and $30 on-site and can be purchased at www.newjerseywines.com.

Sampling will take place from 12 noon – 4:30pm each day.  Those 21 and over that show proper ID will receive a wine glass and wristband with their admission. Those that do not want to sample will pay a $5 admission fee. The Admission Tent will open at 11:30am each day.

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Twenty-one of the state’s finest wineries will be sampling over 200 wines at the event New Jersey wines continue to be regularly recognized as high quality in national and international wine competitions.  The two-day event will also feature award-winning pit masters selling their barbeque including Ben’s BBQ, (Pitmaster and Kansas City Barbeque Society Certified Judge) and winner of mulitiple Star Ledger/Monmouth Park BBQ & Craft Beer Festival Awards; Texas Smoke, multiple winner of the Sussex County Champions of the Grill; Spanky's BBQ & Catering, 2015 Alpha Phi Delta King of Wings Champion; Lost In The Woods (Pitmaster/Food Truck) and Oink and Moo BBQ(Food Truck); Nomad Pizza (Food Truck)  gourmet brick oven pizza and Cherries on Top (Food Truck) selling delectable frozen dessert treats. Wineries present will also be providing a list of their wines for sale that pair best with barbeque.

The Garden State Wine Growers Association has also named the Fisher House Foundation as the official charity partner of the Wine & BBQ Experience. Proceeds from each ticket sale will go to the Foundation, best known for a network of comfort homes where military and veterans’ families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment. These homes are located at major military and VA medical centers nationwide, close to the medical center or hospital they serve.  In addition to selecting the Fisher House Foundation as its official charity partner for the event, all military personnel with valid ID will receive 10% discounts for purchases at all winery tents.

 In addition to the great award-winning New Jersey wines and barbeque, the event will feature a large selection of artisan crafters and music performed by two nationally-acclaimed touring bands.  On Saturday, attendees will be entertained by the Honey Island Swamp Band and Sunday’s band is Astrograss. Attendees will also have the chance to see their favorite wineries honored when results of the annual New Jersey Wine Competition are announced on Saturday afternoon. Organized annually by Dr. Gary Pavlis of Rutgers Unversity, the contest features the awarding of three “Governor’s Cup’ trophies for best overall, best dessert and best fruit wine categories and the announcement of Winery of the Year.

Great music begins with great songs, and great songs are what the Honey Island Swamp Band is all about. The band came together after Aaron Wilkinson (acoustic guitar, mandolin, vocals) and Chris Mule’ (electric guitar, vocals) were marooned in San Francisco after the levee breaches following Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, and had a chance encounter with fellow New Orleans evacuees Sam Price (bass, vocals) and Garland Paul (drums, vocals) at John Lee Hooker’s Boom Boom Room on Fillmore Street. They knew each other from having all played together in some form or another in various New Orleans bands, and with the great unknown regarding their return to their underwater hometown looming in the distance, they decided to put together a band and get some gigs going. Honey Island Swamp Band‘s music has been described as “Bayou Americana” with timeless songs from Wilkinson & Mulé, highlighted by Mulé’s searing guitar, Wilkinson’s sure-handed mandolin, and 4-part vocal harmonies, all anchored by the powerful groove of Price & Paul’s Louisiana stomp rhythm section.

Astrograss lend stratospheric virtuosity to tunes ranging from Bill Monroe to Frank Zappa. Formed in 2003, Astrograss has continually stayed in the forefront of NY’s lively acoustic newgrass scene.  The band’s music showcases it’s unique sound: earthy, bluegrass-inspired yet decidedly un-twangy.  Astrograss is equally passionate in its vocal harmonies and surging improvisations.  In concert, Astrograss wows audiences with an eclectic yet solidly rooted mix of original material, choice covers ranging from Jimmy Webb to Guns n’ Roses, and foot-stompin’, “yee-haw” inspiring fiddle hoedowns.  Astrograss has performed in such prestigious NY venues as: Joe’s Pub, BAM Harvey Theater, BB King’s Blues Club, The Mercury Lounge, The Living Room and The Rodeo Bar just to name a few.

Satellite Parking has been secured with the Washington Twp. School System.  A shuttle will be activated to run between Cucinella Elementary School and Schooley’s Mountain Park both days in case of overflow crowds.