Cancel the trip to Tuscany. New Jersey is receiving a great deal of acclaim for its vineyards with award-winning wines being produced every day.
As Americans are enjoying fine wine like never before, the Garden State has become a destination for winery tours and tastings. Many wineries also offer delightful dining on their scenic premises. Take some time and make a visit to some of the great spots that are making New Jersey a wine-lovers destination. Here's a sampling:
4 JG’s Orchards & Vineyard — Located in an historic farming area in Colts Neck, 4JG's Orchards & Vineyards is named after the four founding family members. The Giunco family has farmed in Monmouth County for more than 60 years. Founded in 1999, Four JG's Orchards & Vineyards is located on a farm with barns and houses that date back to the early 1700s Its wines come from small batches that take their rich charm and flavors through a combination of great estate grapes and traditional wine making techniques. The winery open on weekends from noon to 5 p.m.
Laurita Winery — Laurita Winery, located in New Egypt, is housed in a 20,000-square-foot building that was created by merging two 150-year-old barns. Offering sustainable alternatives, the winery structure and interior is built mostly from recycled or reclaimed materials and uses solar systems to produce clean energy for heat, hot water, steam, cooling and refrigeration. Wines are made from grapes that are recognized and accepted worldwide, concentrating on the Vinifera, the classic European noble varieties. The winery’s hours vary by season and by week, due to a high volume of events and activities, which range from Laurita Idol competitions, food truck and fire pits events, country line dancing and many other events on a monthly basis.
Plagido’s Winery — The 2016 Winery of the Year in the New Jersey Wine Competition, Plagido’s Winery in Hammonton uses estate-grown grapes that are fermented on premise in either stainless steel or oak. Owner Ollie Tomasello is a fourth-generation farmer, farming the land of his great grandfather Plagido Tomasello who arrived in the United States from Italy in the late 1800's. He made his home in Hammonton and was one of its pioneer farmers. Meet Ollie and have him walk you through his winemaking process.
Tomasello Winery — Owned by Charlie and Jack Tomasello, Tomasello Winery was opened by their grandfather in 1933, right after the end of prohibition and the winery has been producing award-winning wines ever since. Now, a four-generation winemaking family with the recent addition of Cornell graduate Brian Tomasello to the winemaking staff, the Tomasellos continue to craft wines that fit every wine consumers taste. Enjoy a great meal on selected weeknights inside Bistro 33 in its catering hall with an on-premise chef. Sunday opera is offered at Tomasello Winery four times per year.
Cape May County
Cape May Winery — Cape May Winery has grown over the past two decades to produce some of South Jersey's most distinguished wines. The vineyard encompasses over four different vineyards, containing over 70 acres, where more than 16 different varieties of grapes are produced. Through the years, the winery has become one of Cape May's top tourist attractions. It offers tours every day at 2 p.m. and offers a tasting featuring five of its wines with a souvenier glass for $8.
Willow Creek Winery — Willow Creek Winery produces premium sustainable wines that are grown and bottled a 50-acre farm in Cape May — a combination of preserved and unpreserved farmland. With thousands of vines planted within the last seven years, its unique climate allows it to produce some of the finest handcrafted wines found this side of Europe. Willow Creek is open to the public for daily farm and vineyard tours, and wine and sangria tastings. A light tapas menu is offered daily.
Wagonhouse Winery — Dan and Heather Brown opened Wagonhouse Winery in 2004 in South Harrison. Leasing land from Dan’s family who had been farming in Mickleton for over a century, they planted some grapes and hoped for the best. The name came from the old wagon house on the family farm. The idea was to build a tasting room someday, modeled after that very building. Ironically enough, the building that is now the winery tasting room was once the site of the original wagon house for the farm. Today, the Browns produce more than 20 wines a year. The Three Boys Brand of sweet wines is named after their three young boys.
Heritage Vineyards — Family owned and operated, Heritage is an estate vineyard and winery located in Mullica Hill, which was named New Jersey’s “Winery of the Year” in 2011 and 2014 by the Garden State Wine Growers Association. The winery was established by Bill and Penni Heritage as they converted their 150-acre estate of peach and apple orchards into vineyards. They represent the fifth generation of farmers who have tended this land. Heritage Vineyards offers a selection of award-winning red and white wines crafted from their own estate vineyards. Guided tours of the winery are available every Saturday.
Old York Cellars — Located in Ringoes in the rolling hills of the Sourland Mountain range in Hunterdon County is Old York Cellars. With 25 beautiful acres of preserved farmland and 13 acres of rolling vineyards that were planted in 1979, these vines were the first to produce wine under the New Jersey Farm Act of 1981 (the legislation that continues to facilitate New Jersey's growth into a booming wine region). Visitors can see art displays inside the Vista Room. a 1,100-square-foot facility that houses featured artist exhibits. Although available as an indoor picnic area, it is mainly used for private events. The tasting room is where visitors can do a tasting of Old York Cellars wines and then purchase a bottle and sit outside on the patio where they can view the vineyard. Public tours of the tank room and the winemaking process are available on Saturdays and Sundays. Private tours are also available. Reservations are required.
Unionville Vineyards — Also located in Ringoes just up the road from Old York Cellars is Unionville Vineyards, situated in America’s Colonial Crescent. Unionville's home vineyard is an 88.7-acre farm that had originally been part of the largest peach orchard in the United States, and the main house and oldest section of the winery building were built in 1858. Guests can sample some of Unionville’s award-winning wines as they peer out at land where George Washington and his troops once camped. A collection of four farms, Unionville Vineyards sits on 300 acres of preserved farmland. Unionville’s tasting room is open noon to 5 p.m., seven days a week.
Working Dog Winery — Started by four friends who had the idea of planting grapes and making their own wine, Working Dog Winery has developed into one of the finest estate vineyards in the state. Working Dog Winery is open Friday through Sunday for wine tastings and events.
Auburn Road Vineyards — Located just off a quiet road that rolls through acres of pastures and farmland sits Auburn Road Vineyard, featuring award-winning wines, outstanding locally sourced cuisine and live music. Guests can enjoy a tasting or a glass of wine in the Enoteca, an Italian-style wine bar where they can also enjoy artisan cheeses, fresh crusty bread and locally made desserts. There is live entertainment weekly and “What’s for Friday” is a popular five-course dinner special.
Cava Winery — Located in the Skylands region of Northwest New Jersey, Cava Winery is a scenic stop for wine lovers. Open weekends on Friday and Saturday from noon to 8 p.m., and on Sunday from noon to 6 p.m., Cava Winery.located in Hamburg, operates a tasting room inside its main room or indoor bar. All tastings are served to your table. On Fridays, wine tastings in the bar area are available with Cava’s bistro style menu until 5 p.m.. All Cava tastings are done in flights with seven different flights to choose from. The flights are priced between $5 and $7. Cava also offers a bistro-style menu, where a selection of freshly made appetizers, pizzas and more are available. www.cavawinery.com
Ventimiglia Vineyard — Handcrafted is the term that applies to the love and attention that is paid to the winemaking process at Ventimiglia Vineyard located in Wantage in Sussex County. Owner Gene Ventimiglia carries on a family tradition of making handcrafted wine in small batches. Ventimiglia Vineyards uses carefully selected top quality grapes, oak barrels and minimal chemical or mechanical intervention. The winery is open for tastings on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p m.
Four Sisters Winery — Nestled among the rolling hills of Warren County is Four Sisters Winery in Belvidere. Owned and operated by Matty Matarazzo since 1984, Four Sisters Winery offers a variety of quality wines in a warm country setting. Educational tours and comprehensive wine tastings offer visitors a greater understanding of the processes involved in growing grapes and making wine. Four Sisters Winery has won more than100 regional, national, and international awards for red, white, rose and fruit wines. It is also the setting for numerous wine-related events and activities including grape stomping, murder mystery dinners, pig roasts and harvest weekends in the fall where you can pick your own pumpkins and apples.
Villa Milagro Vineyards — In Finesville, atop a hill that offers one of the most breathtaking views of any winery in the state, is Villa Milagro Vineyards. Sustainability is the mantra at Villa Milagro. Proprietors Steve and Audrey Gambino hand harvest their grapes and then blend them to highlight the best of each varietal used in the blend. Each month offers a variety of weekend events at the winery, from dinners, cheese pairings to live musical entertainment. The winery is open weekends for tastings and sales from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., daily for sales from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and at other times by appointment.