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When Expedia asked Jersey Bites about culinary adventures in New Jersey, I knew right away that the Garden State’s glorious wine trails would be the way to go.
Rolling hills of vines. Blooming trees. Great wine. Outdoor tastings. Sonoma County? Nope. When it comes to great wine trails, they don’t have to be so far away. Vino aficionados can experience wines that rival the best in the country throughout the New Jersey Wine Trails. Even better, you choose where to go, when to go, and how long to stay. Set among the Pine Barrens, rivers, and the shore, New Jersey’s Wine Trails offer escapes to several New Jersey wineries. Whether you’re exploring the classic wineries of the Vintage North Jersey Grand Wine Trail, the coastal wineries of the Jersey Shore Wine Trail, the rustic Pinelands Reserve Wine Trail, the Pennsylvania-bordering Two Bridges Wine Trail, or the Victorian-inspired Cape May Wine Trail, you’re in for a tasty afternoon.
On any given weekend, just choose your wine trail and follow the map located on the Garden State Wine Growers Association website. While you’re there, download directions and check out each winery’s event calendar. Travel at your own pace and try one or all of the wineries on any trail. Each winery is unique, but a common thread exists: the high quality of the wines made with grapes grown right here in New Jersey.
On a beautiful weekend, I grabbed my best friend and set out to experience New Jersey’s wine country to see if it was really up to par. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. Before doing anything else, I downloaded the New Jersey Wine Trails Passport app on my iPhone, which gave me updated information about events at each winery and allowed me to “check in.” If you don’t have a iPhone, be sure to grab a Passport where you can collect stamps from each winery. When you collect all of them, you’ll receive a pair of tickets to any wine festival during the year, and you’ll also be entered to win a trip abroad to taste wine for a week – do I have your attention yet?
So back to my wine trail adventure. First up on the list was 4JG’s Vineyards in Colts Neck, one of my favorite stops on the Jersey Shore Wine Trail. Nestled in horse country, 4JG’s is a stunning vineyard in a very unexpected place. Just as beautiful as the neighbors’ multi-million dollar mansions, the Giunco family manages a vineyard that produces delicious award winning wines. While you’re there, be sure to take a stroll through the vineyard. And if you’re lucky, you’ll get to sample some wine straight out of the barrel.
Next up was Terhune Orchards and Winery, which is a stop on the Vintage North Jersey Grand Wine Trail. Set in the picturesque town of Princeton, Terhune Orchards and Winery is a one-stop shop for delicious wine, fresh produce, and family fun. While you’re there, be sure to sample their Chambourcin, a common grape variety that you’ll find in almost every New Jersey winery. First found in the Loire Region of France, Chambourcin has proved to be equally delicious when grown in New Jersey. The result is a full-bodied fresh red wine that goes really well with summer meals. Terhune’s version hit it out of the park.
My wine trail ended back along the Jersey Shore Wine Trail, at Working Dog Winery in East Windsor. Named after their faithful four-legged companions (who also serve as greeters), Working Dog Winery produces hand crafted rich and full-bodied wines. Not only are the wines delicious, but turns out it’s a great place to bring your dogs. On any weekend, pack some food (or order some fish tacos at the food truck), bring along some great company (including your furry friends), sit down with a nice bottle of Working Dog Winery’s Cabernet Franc (or whatever you like), and enjoy the music, sun, and views. At this point of my day, I really started to feel like I was in Napa.
Even though I didn’t get a chance to stop at every winery along the trail (and I veered off the path a bit) it’s all just part of the beauty of the wine trails. You can go to as many as you like, all on your own terms. And really, there’s always next weekend!
So next time you’re looking for an adventure, throw your hair to the wind and go on a road trip where the stops are anything but boring. It’s a side of New Jersey that deserves a “cheers.”
Hungry for more Garden State adventures? Check out Expedia’s New Jersey Photo Gallery for inspiration.
127 Hillsdale Road
Terhune Orchards Vineyard and Winery
330 Cold Soil Road
Working Dog Winery
610 Windsor-Perrineville Road