A small part of all the produce grown in New Jersey is grapes for making wine. In fact, New Jersey ranks seventh in the country for wine production and while much of this is made from other fruits, there is a good amount of grape wine produced. And so, in my search to find more local sources for what I consume, I’ve made a point to visit as many New Jersey wineries as I can. Of the fifty or so wineries in New Jersey, I’ve made it to only ten so far, however, I’ve gotten the chance taste twice that amount.
Beneduce Vineyard -- Pittstown, NJ
Beneduce had some interesting wines, most notably a blaufrankisch, which is a traditional Austrian grape. This was the first I had heard of Beneduce and I think I’ll have to go visit them to find out more.
Brook Hollow Winery -- Columbia, NJ
I stopped at Brook Hollow very briefly to taste only reds and wasn’t impressed. This fell into the category of wines that are more expensive than they should be. New Jersey has trouble with that. There are a lot of wines that I think are acceptable but are just far more expensive than their quality merits.
Cava Winery & Vineyard -- Hamburg, NJ
This is one winery I had been to so I was already a little familiar with their wines. Cava definitely caters to the sweet wine crowd and does it very well because it is one of the more popular wineries in North Jersey. I’ve never been attracted, but their Ceci Bella, a line of sweet wine/fruit blends, sells incredibly well.
Four Sisters Winery -- Belvidere, NJ
This was the host winery of the event and I had actually been here before as well. This is another winery that makes several sweet wines, also not my style. The main dry wines they make are made from native grape varieties that I don’t enjoy a whole lot. There are a few that can be made well, but I haven’t tried a seyval blanc or cayuga wine yet that I like.
Hopewell Valley Vineyards -- Hopewell, NJ
This winery actually had a pretty decent selection. They were all dry, something uncommon about New Jersey wineries but which I admire, and were reasonably-priced as well. The best white was their chardonnay and their best red was, somewhat surprisingly, their barbera. They also had an enjoyable chambourcin, a native red grape common in New Jersey that can make a pleasant dry red wine.
Old York Vineyards -- Ringoes, NJ
Old York was another winery I was a little disappointed with. They focus on dry wines from vinifera grapes, but the results leave a little to be desired. I’m pretty sure the cabernet they were pouring had a little bit of secondary fermentation.
Terhune Orchards & Winery -- Princeton, NJ
Terhune makes mostly sweet wine, and they had the first apple wine I had encountered. It was a good first apple wine, but the other wines on their table were just ok.
Unionville Vineyards -- Ringoes, NJ
Unionville actually surprised me. I had visited this winery before and wasn’t thrilled but a couple of the wines I tasted during the festival weren’t bad. Perhaps the quality is improving and if so, I’d be glad for it. I also had the pleasure of chatting with Lainie Kepley who, by her own words, “does a little bit of everything” at the winery. I look forward to visiting again in the future.
Ventimiglia Vineyards -- Wantage, NJ
I’ve always enjoyed Ventimiglia, partly due to their mostly dry style of fairly decent wine and partly due to their jovial and passionate owner Gene. They make a mix of vinifera-based wines like Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon and wines from native grapes like Chambourcin and Vidal Blanc. Their Carignane was probably my favorite from the entire festival.
Villa Milagro -- Finesville, NJ
This was one winery I had heard of, but hadn’t had the opportunity to try. I’m pretty sure Jamie and I tried to visit once, but found it closed. Unfortunately, it wasn’t much worth the wait. Their wines were just ok, not much to write about.
Don't forget to watch the video of the festival!