This past weekend marked the first Blues, Wine & BBQ Festival, sponsored by the Garden State Wine Growers Association. Held at beautiful Schooley’s Mountain Park in western Morris County, the event drew over 7000 attendees.
The two-day event highlighted some of New Jersey’s finest wineries, which have tripled in number across the state in the last ten years. Festival attendees had the opportunity to taste hundreds of wines made from New Jersey-grown grapes, meet the winemaking teams, and enjoy the latest vintages and new releases.
This year’s Governor’s Cup Awards were announced on Saturday afternoon.
Heritage Vineyards took home 26 awards this year, including four gold medals for its 2013 Chardonnay, Brut, and Chenin Blanc wines, and another for its 2012 BDX. The 2013 Heritage Chardonnay also won awards for Best Estate Wine and Best Vinifera, and the 2013 Heritage Brut tied with Tomasello Winery’s NV Sparkling Rkatsiteli for Best Sparkling Wine.
“We are honored to receive these awards,” said Richard Heritage, director of sales and marketing for Heritage Winery. “We are grateful for the recognition from the Garden Sate Wine Growers Association and Rutgers Cooperative Extension. Their accolades definitely motivate us to keep contributing to the standard of excellence that has been established for New Jersey wines.”
The contest, organized annually by Dr. Gary Pavlis of Rutgers University, has been awarding three Governor’s Cup trophies annually for almost 30 years. Judges this year included sommeliers, fine wine distributors, boutique liquor store owners, and restaurateurs from across the state. More than 300 wines were entered in hopes of earning the coveted trophies.
At 4 p.m. on Sunday, Marisa Policastro was announced as the lucky winner of the international wine trip! The GSWGA operates a passport program, with all association members included in the book. Those who complete the New Jersey Wine Trails and collect stamps from the wineries are entered into an annual drawing for the vacation. This year the winner will book their real passport to Spain for a wine and food excursion from Madrid to the Spanish old country. The GSWGA also has created an app edition of the passport program, which includes maps of NJ wine country, a calendar of events, and the ability to collect stamps by checking in to NJ winery tasting rooms.