Sponsored by Garden State Wine Growers Association
On Memorial Day weekend, 20 of New Jersey’s premier wine producers will set up camp for two days on Natirar estate for the Garden State Wine Growers Association’s (GSWGA) annual Blues & Wine Festival.
The annual event, which draws several thousand festival goers each year, is one of the state’s leading annual events, according to John Cifelli, executive director of the GSWGA. “Natirar is a stunning setting, a gorgeous sprawling property that’s perfect for hosting thousands to enjoy twenty premier New Jersey wineries,” says Cifelli. “The music, food, and of course, wine, are all excellent.”
Festival attendees will have the opportunity to taste hundreds of wines, meet the winemaking teams, enjoy an array of delicious foods, and take in an afternoon of great blues bands. Dugan Thomas plays their brand of “smokin’ hot” blues on Saturday, and the Jody Joseph Band owns the stage on Sunday. The festival runs from noon to 5 p.m. each day, with Memorial Day itself reserved as a rain date.
All blues should come with some barbecue, and this event will not disappoint. Food trucks serving everything from ribs, pork and chicken, to pizza and specialty ice cream will be on hand to satisfy every appetite.
Early in the day on Saturday, the winners of the New Jersey “Governor’s Cup” will be announced. The contest, organized annually by Dr. Gary Pavlis of Rutgers University, has been awarding these trophies for almost 30 years. In addition to the Winery of the Year award, Cups are given to the best overall, best dessert wine, and best fruit wine. Judges this year include sommeliers, fine wine distributors, boutique liquor store owners, and restaurateurs from across the state.
At the end of the two-day event, one lucky individual will be drawn to win an international wine trip! The GSWGA operates a passport program, with all association members included in the book. Those who travel the entire New Jersey wine trail and collect stamps from the wineries are entered into an annual drawing, traditionally held at the Blues & Wine Festival. This year’s drawing will take place at the music tent, and the announced winner will have to get their U.S. passport ready for a grand wine vacation to Austria and Hungary.
This year, as a special treat, the GSWGA invites all civil servants to enjoy discounted tickets to the festival. All police, fire, EMS, and military veterans will receive a $10 discount at the gate with proper identification. GSWGA Vice Chair Anthony Riccio, an army veteran himself, says, “It’s the right thing to do, to give back. The support from the residents of this state has meant so much, we wanted to honor those who do some very important work in our communities.” Tickets to the event are $25 at the gate, but reduced rate advance ticket sales are online now.
Auburn Road Vineyard, Pilesgrove ~ Bellview Winery, Landisville ~ Cava Winery, Hamburg
Chestnut Run Farm, Pilesgrove ~ Coda Rossa Winery, Franklinville ~ DiMatteo Vineyards, Hammonton
Four Sisters Winery, Milford ~ Heritage Vineyards, Mullica Hill ~ Hopewell Valley Vineyards, Pennington
Monroeville Winery, Monroeville ~ Old York Cellars, Ringoes ~ Plagido’s Winery, Hammonton
Renault Winery, Egg Harbor City ~ Sharrott Winery, Winslow ~ Tomasello Winery, Hammonton
Valenzano Winery, Shamong ~ Wagonhouse Winery, Swedesboro ~ Working Dog Winery, Hightstown
Food Trucks & Vendors
Ben’s BBQ (savory ribs, pork and chicken) ~ Wingin’ It (southern gourmet) ~ Nomad Pizza (gourmet pizza)
Silver Birch Kitchens (farm to table) ~ Star of the Sea Seafood ~ Cherries on Top (specialty ice cream)
Saturday: Dugan Thomas
Sunday: The Jody Joseph Band