STAFFORD - Labor Day has just passed, schools are opening and the fall season is upon us. Americans are enjoying fine wine like never before and the Garden State has become a destination for winery tours and tastings. Many wineries also offer delightful dining on their scenic premises. We have suggestions from all around the state. Take some time and make a visit to some of the great spots that are making New Jersey a wine-lovers destination. Here are few wineries located around the state but we first begin with one in Ocean County.
Laurita Winery - Laurita Winery is located in New Egypt. The winery is housed in a 20,000 square foot building that is the result of two 150-year-old barns being merged. 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.
Cava Winery - Located in Hamburg in the beautiful Skylands of Northwest, NJ, Cava Winery is a scenic stop for wine lovers. Open weekends Friday 12pm-8pm, Saturday 12pm-8pm and Sundays 12pm – 6pm, Cava Winery operates a tasting room inside their main room or indoor bar. All tastings are served to you at a table. On Fridays wine tastings in the bar area are available with Cava’s bistro style menu until 5 pm. All Cava tastings are done in flights with seven different flights to choose from. The flights are priced between $5-$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 – Hand-crafted 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 hand-crafted 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 pm.
Old York Cellars – Located in Ringoes amongst 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, located 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 that George Washington and his troops once camped out on. A collection of four farms, Unionville Vineyards sits on 300 acres of preserved farmland. Unionville’s tasting room is open noon to 5pm seven days a week.
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 over 100 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 11:00am-6:00pm, daily for sales from 9:00am-6:00pm and at other times by appointment.
4 JG’s Orchards & Vineyard – Located in an historic farming area in Colts Neck, NJ, 4JG's Orchards & Vineyards is named after the four founding family members. The Giunco family has farmed in Monmouth County for over 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 1700's. 4 JG’s 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 is not open on weekdays but is open weekends from noon to 5 pm.
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 located in Central NJ, just minutes from I-195, the NJ Turnpike, Rt 33, and Rt 130 and is open Friday through Sunday for wine tastings and events.
Wagonhouse Winery –Dan and Heather Brown opened Wagonhouse Winery in 2004 in South Harrison Township. Leasing land and 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 they are producing over 20 wines a year and raising three boys as well, which became the inspiration for their Three Boys Brand of sweet wines.
Heritage Vineyards - is a family owned and operated estate vineyard and winery located in Mullica Hill, New Jersey that was named New Jersey’s “Winery of the Year” in 2011 and 2014 by the Garden State Wine Growers Association. The winery was established in 199 by Bill and Penni Heritage as they converted their 150 acre estate of peach & apple orchards into vineyards. Bill & Penni Heritage, 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. Visit the Tasting Room located on Rte. 322 (Mullica Hill Rd.) for a wine sampling. Guided tours of the winery are available every Saturday.
Auburn Road Vineyards – Features award-winning wines, outstanding locally-sourced cuisine and great live music. Located just off a quiet road that rolls through acres of pasture and farmland sits Auburn Road Vineyard. 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. Weekly live music acts on the Enoteca stage and “What’s for Friday” five-course dinners plus Ravella Woodfire Pizza help make a visit to Auburn Road a memorable one.
Plagido’s Winery – the 2016 Winery of the Year in the NJ Wine Competition, Plagido’s Winery in Hammonton prides itself on not only being a family owned business that treats customers like family but also, by doing things right. All grapes that are used in Plagido wines are Estate Grown and are fermented on premise in Hammonton, NJ 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 Hammonton's 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 have 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 their beautiful catering hall with on premise chef. You can also enjoy a Sunday at the opera at Tomasello Winery four times per year or just sample some of their wines inside their brand new tasting room.
Cape May County
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, from which over 16 different varieties of grapes are produced. Through the years, Cape May Winery has become one of Cape May's top tourist attractions. Cape May Winery offers tours every day at 2 pm and offers a Tasting featuring 5 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, NJ- 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 hand-crafted wines found this side of Europe. Willow Creek is open to the public for daily farm and vineyard tours & wine and sangria tastings. They offer a light tapas menu daily.
Our readers should know about the Garden State Wine Growers Association. It is the statewide organization for the advocacy and promotion of the New Jersey wine industry. Founded in 1984, the association has driven exponential growth through wine education initiatives, cooperative marketing campaigns, and a slate of annual events dedicated to taking our wines across New Jersey, and encouraging enthusiasts to visit our wineries. Comprised of over 50 members, the GSWGA produces wine festivals and wine trail weekends to market the locally produced wines of the Garden State. The Association also addresses the legislative affairs and public relations of the state’s wine. Learn more about wineries in New Jersey and keep in touch with special events by visiting their web site.
For more day travel ideas, go to the TAPinto Travels section.