New Jersey’s Skylands Region is known for its captivating landscapes, tranquility, natural beauty and lack of “exits.” Sprinkled with nearly a dozen vineyards, the area is also making its mark as a delightful destination for a diversity of wineries. So no matter in which direction you travel, you’re sure to discover something to please your palate. And there is no better time than autumn to get lost in the rolling hills of northern New Jersey and enjoy the fall foliage.
Dubbed the Vintage North Jersey Wine Trail, the 88 miles from the extreme northern, rugged terrain of Sussex, to the rolling hills of Hunterdon and Mercer Counties, which boast world-class grapevines, there is plenty of flavor to savor. And, as you meander along the trails, your appreciation for the Garden State will surely grow.
Where else can you go and be serenaded by the fall breeze while taking in natural landscapes and picturesque mountains dotted by farms, and yes wineries? To taste it is to love it!
As an added bonus, those who visit all of the participating wineries before December 31, 2013 will qualify for a chance to win a free hot air balloon ride and lodging package. The winner will enjoy an afternoon floating over the sprawling majesty of western New Jersey before indulging the senses at one of our famed country bed and breakfast inns.
Here’s what you’ll experience as you sip, relax and let the stresses of the day melt away:
These vineyards specialize in an artful variety of hybrid grapes, such as Frontenac, Seyval and Marquette, along with select vinifera grapes and native American Grapes such as Concord.
Ventimiglia Vineyard: 101 Layton Road, Wantage
This 50-acre venue welcomes visitors to enjoy the farm and the winemaking experience. Their focus is to blend traditional European winemaking from the Old world to the Sussex County farm.
Westfall Winery: 141 Clove Road, Montague
This 300-plus acres farm is home to scores of fine red, white and Jersey fruit wines. The specialty wine recipes Spanish Passion (Sangria), Cranberry Wine and Peach Chardonnay are local favorites.
Cava Winery & Vineyard: 3619 New Jersey 94, Hamburg
This winery, whose name means “mine,” calls on its Italian heritage when making wines and offers a bistro-style menu of tapas, salads, pizzas and paninis as a “tour at every table.”
These wineries are located in an area federally-designated as perfect for growing wine grapes – Warren Hills American Viticulture Area. Here, well-drained limestone soils are perfect for growing both French-American hybrids, such as Leon Millot and French vinifera, such as Cabernet Sauvignon.
Four Sisters: 783 County Road 519, Belvidere
This 250-acre farm is committed to offering quality wines among the rolling fields. Throughout the year, it offers grape-stomping parties and murder mystery dinners. Try their “Sadie’s Apple” made from their farm’s apples.
Nestled in the heart of the scenic Delaware Water Gap, this winery prides itself on creating dry, complex varietals. In addition a fan favorite is their Cranberry Wine, made from 100 percent fresh New Jersey cranberries.
Villa Milagro Vineyards: 33 Riegelsville Warren Glen Road, Finesville
Located on the cliffs overlooking the Delaware and Musconetcong Rivers, you can view four counties and two states on a clear day while sampling unique blends of Bordeaux style wines, such as their Incendio and Casi Dulce. Bring a lunch to relax on the porch and drink in the views.
Traveling southward into Hunterdon County, the foothills of the Piedmont meet the northernmost reaches of the coastal plain, affording a rich diversity of soil profiles and microclimates, providing for fertile grounds where many varieties of grape thrive.
One of the Garden State’s newest wineries, this venue focuses on offering a large selection of high quality, dry wines. Take an antique tractor-pulled tour of their 10 acre estate vineyard, or cozy up by their outdoor bonfire and sip a glass of wine while you watch the sun set over Hunterdon’s hills.
Old York Cellars Winery & Vineyard: 80 Old York Road, Ringoes
This venue features estate buildings that double as cellars that play host to various events. As part of its recently launched “What Exit” program, buyers can customize what their label says and provide $1 from each bottle to support the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund.
Unionville Vineyards: 9 Rocktown Road, Ringoes
Unionville makes wines from five estate vineyards, each having unique soils, slopes and microclimates. The pinnacle of their operation is the Single Vineyard Series, a collection of wines which showcases the different terroirs of the three counties their estate plantings cover. Unionville has won back-to-back Governor’s Cup awards; Best Overall in ’12 and Best Dessert in ’13.
Terhune Orchards Vineyard & Winery: 330 Cold Soil Road, Princeton
It’s not just about grape growing on this 200-acre orchard. Terhune has grown various vegetables and fruits, including apples and peaches, since 1975. Their wine “Just Peachy” won the Governors Cup Gold Award earlier this year
In addition to wine tasting, there’s plenty to do as the region offers distinct shopping and terrific eateries along the way. For example, you can shop for antiques or partake in historic river town explorations in Belvidere and Phillipsburg. Or experience high fashion in Frenchtown or Lambertville.
Not a shopper, spend some time at one of the state’s best-kept secrets — Ken Lockwood Gorge in High Bridge. It’s dubbed one of the “most picturesque,” places in New Jersey.
Whatever your desire, be sure to set aside time this fall for a leisurely drive through the North Jersey Wine Trail countryside. Sip a glass of vino and enjoy the view. No exits, no noise. Just tranquil countryside and delicious wines. It’s all about the experience! Come enjoy!
The North Jersey Wine Trail is supported in part by a grant from New Jersey Department of State, Division of Travel and Tourism (VisitNJ.org). For more information on each winery, please visit www.vintagenorthjersey.com.