For wine lovers on a travel budget, a trip to Napa is often out of the question. Between flights, hotels, and other expenses, the cost of a California jaunt can be prohibitive. Jersey folks, don’t despair! Our home state is one of the top ten wine producers in the country, boasting over 40 working wineries. Many of these locales are open to the public and feature some of the region’s most breathtaking vistas, mouth-watering wines, and are only a short distance from home.
On a recent Sunday, my husband and I traveled south to New Egypt, New Jersey in search of a wine tasting adventure. Our destination was a Pour & Pedal bike tour, and despite temps in the mid 90s, the five-hour voyage was completely booked with a brave and fun-loving group of 20 from all over the state.
After being outfitted with a pristine bike and helmet, we were off with our guides on the first part of the journey – a 7.5 mile trip through the beautiful New Jersey countryside to the Cream Ridge Winery. Along the way we wove through a quaint town, cycled around horse farms, and traveled alongside lush fields bursting with late summer hues.
Once at Cream Ridge, we were treated to a tour of the vineyard and production room, and later enjoyed a generous tasting of their award-winning specialty grape and fruit wines. We learned about the history of the winery, the complexity of their product, and really got a sense of the owners’ passion for winemaking.
Following a brief rest with the group in the vineyard’s shade – the luscious grapes just weeks away from harvest – we were soon pedaling the 7.5 miles back to the Laurita Winery where the tour originated.
Upon arrival, we turned in our equipment and headed inside where we enjoyed lunch in their magnificent function room overlooking the expansive vineyard. Our witty tour guide led us through a competitive trivia game that taught the group many different facts about the winemaking process. (Who knew that it takes approximately 700 grapes to make one bottle of wine?) He then conducted a tasting of Laurita’s prized wines, which concluded with a sample of their delicious Chocolate Therapy dessert wine. A perfect way to end the day!
Before heading home, my husband and I wandered Laurita’s rolling landscape, stopping to listen to live music in the picnic grove. It was an added bonus to this already excellent expedition.
For more information, or to book your own adventure at either of the New Jersey sites, visit: http://www.pourandpedal.com. Tours run through early October. If you are interested in traveling to any of the state’s wineries on your own, visit http://jerseyfresh.nj.gov/wine/ for a list of locations.