Alba Vineyard is an award-winning winery nestled in the rolling hills of Warren County in Milford. The winery is located less than two miles from the Delaware River and picturesque Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The winery and tasting room are housed in a historic 1805-converted stone barn, which features an impressive wood tasting bar, rustic stonewalls and old oak beams.
During a recent visit, our Alba Vineyard Ambassador, Caroline, poured us a variety of Alba wines. Caroline told us a bit about each wine and about the history of the winery founded in 1980. One fact I found particularly interesting is that Alba is the only New Jersey winery to use French oak barrels exclusively. Head winemaker John Altmaier only uses each barrel four times then sells them to a local brandy and cognac maker. The wines we tasted included the following:
- Mainsail White ($9.99) – This is an easy-to-drink, light, dry wine that’s perfect any night of the week. I’d compare it to a Pinot Grigio with
slightly bolder flavors. 55% Cayuga, 45% Vidal Blanc.
- 2011 Dry Riesling ($16.99) – With this dry Riesling, winemaker John Altmaier endeavors to recreate the type of Rieslings produced in Alsace. The wine is rich yet crisp and had me craving Thai food. 100% Riesling.
- Gewürztraminer ($18.99) – This floral wine with tons of pink grapefruit flavors won a gold medal at the Long Beach Grand Cru. A really pretty, nice example of this aromatic varietal. 100% Gewurztraminer.
- 2011 Chelsea Dry Rosé ($10.99) – Lovely light pink color from the Chambourcin skins, this crisp rosé offers big strawberry aromas and peach/strawberry flavors. Perfect wine to sip on a warm summer afternoon. 46% Cayuga, 46% Vidal Blanc, 8% Chambourcin.
- 2010 Pinot Noir ($23.99) – Burgundian in style and light in the glass, this Pinot is full-bodied with big cherry flavors and a nice peppery finish. 100% Pinot Noir.
- Old Mill Red ($9.99) – I described this wine as a perfect Wednesday night pizza wine to Caroline and she completely agreed. It’s $10 and medium-bodied with cherry and dried cranberry flavors. 80% Chambourcin, 20% Cabernet Franc.
- 2011 Barbera ($34.99) – This wine took me completely by surprise. Piedmont comes to Jersey? Round, elegant, velvety with great fruit flavor. 100% Barbera.
- 2010 Chambourcin ($16.99) – Had to be a Chambourcin being poured – it’s New Jersey after all. Little funky with a jammy strawberry flavors and vanilla-scented, oaky finish. 95% Chambourcin, 5% Cabernet Franc.
- Red Raspberry ($16.99) – Was I just a bit skeptical of raspberry dessert wine? Yes. Was I pleasantly surprised after tasting it? Yes again. The raspberries used for this wine are picked at a local farm in Tewksbury. Simply a huge mouthful of raspberries enjoyable on its own and was super paired with dark chocolates during the tasting. Would be great in a cocktail also and Caroline suggested I replace the water in my favorite brownies recipe with this wine for a chocolate/raspberry combination that’s unbeatable. I’ll be trying that.
- 2009 Vintage Port ($19.99) – While I’m not a huge Port fan, this Chambourcin-based version is pretty grand. Jammy fig flavors with just a hint of sweetness. Was gorgeous with dark chocolate and would be great with a cheese plate. 100% Chambourcin.
Not all the grapes used to create Alba Vineyard’s wines are New Jersey-grown. Chelsea Cellars is Alba Vineyard’s line of hand-crafted wines made with fruit from Sagemoor Vineyards, one of the most revered grape growers of the Columbia Valley in Washington state. Alba sources the finest Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from Sagemoor to craft the Chelsea Cellars wines. As soon as the Sagemoor grapes are hand-picked, they’re chilled for 24 hours then shipped in temperature-controlled trucks bound for Alba Vineyard to arrive in New Jersey within 72 hours of picking.
The standard tasting costs $10 per person and the private tour experience costs $15 per person and must include 4 or more guests. The tasting is paired with cheeses, flatbreads, seasonal fruits or appetizers. The tasting room is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Guests are encouraged to buy a bottle and take it outside to enjoy on the beautiful grounds of the property. I suggest you do just that, very soon.
269 Rte 627
Veronique Deblois, Food & Wine Chickie: Veronique is a food and wine writer based in Morris County. As the author of the popular blog, Food & Wine Chickie Insider, Veronique shares recipes, wine and restaurant reviews and insight into the travel industry of which she’s a 15-year veteran. Follow Veronique on Twitter or like her Facebook page.